ALBANY, NY — Despite going 14-5-2-1 during the last two months, the Albany Devils are still in the Springfield Falcons rearview mirror. Entering Friday’s 7 pm contest against the first-place Falcons (22-5-1-3, 48 pts.), the second-place Devils (19-8-2-2, 42 pts.) are six points behind in the Northeast Division.
Not only is Friday’s game at Times Union Center important, but three of Albany’s next four outings are against Springfield.
“I just said to the guys this is certainly four games we have circled on the schedule,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “We’ve been fortunate this year because of our play and where we are, we haven’t been chasing too many teams. Now we are playing a team that’s just ahead of us in the standings. Our goal is to get to the top of the division and they are ahead of us. This is an opportune time.”
The Devils and Falcons have already met twice this season. Springfield earned a 5-3 win on Nov. 22, but Albany responded with a 6-4 victory on Dec. 2.
“Very similar,” Kowalsky said when asked to compare the two squads. “We are a tight defensive team that likes to push the pace, use our [defense] to keep plays alive in the offensive zone. They are probably a little more aggressive with that off the rush than some of our group. They are well coached. They play a good system and they are an honest, hardworking bunch.”
Both teams have logged 31 games and sport similar numbers. The Devils are outscoring opponents 99-77, while the Falcons are outscoring foes 102-76. Albany is 7-1-1-1 in its last 10, while Springfield is 7-1-0-2.
After Friday’s game, the teams will meet again Tuesday at Times Union Center and next Friday at MassMutual Center. From there the teams meet at Springfield on Feb. 4 and Mar. 14 and at Albany on Apr. 19 — the last game of the season.
• The Devils practiced Thursday at Times Union Center. The team is coming off its first three-in-three weekend, earning five-out-of-a-possible-six points.
“I told the guys after that all three were hard-fought games,” Kowalsky said. “I thought they were tight-checking, physical games; they had a little bit of everything. The pace: just a torrid pace in all three games.
“Five-out-of-six points we are certainly happy with. We would have liked six, but overall I thought the guys did a heck of a job.”