TROY, NY — The playoff spot has been secured, but there is still regular-season hockey to be played. The Albany Devils put the finishing touches on their 76-game schedule with a 5 pm outing against the Northeast Division-leading Springfield Falcons Saturday at Times Union Center.
Even though that team is in the Calder Cup Playoffs, the team is jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference. Albany can finish as high as fifth and as low as eighth. With 13 AHL games Friday, Head Coach Rick Kowalsky says he will wait to set a lineup for Saturday’s contest.
“We are going to sit on it until the morning,” he said. “Obviously, there will be some guys we rest. We have a couple of guys who are banged up. We are going to take a look at what happens tonight, but we are still going to approach the game regardless. We want to win. We want to prepare. It could be a first round opponent. There are quite enough capable guys here who we can put a good lineup together even with, potentially, key players out.”
Springfield, along with Manchester, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Binghamton,is a potential first round opponent. The Devils will try and extend their current four-game winning streak and build momentum heading into next week’s series.
“No matter if it makes a difference or not, I think you want to be going into the playoffs playing well,” said assistant captain Mike Sislo. “Our focus is on playing well and playing the right way.”
“I think it’s important to just focus on where you are at and what you can do to help the team,” Sislo said. “All of us are happy to be up [in New Jersey] and coming down [to Albany] we knew we were a playoff team and wanted to help and contribute as much as we could.”
The Devils, who have 15 players on the roster with NHL experience, practiced Friday at Knickerbacker Ice Arena.