Devils looking for more 60-minute games

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TROY, NY – The success of a team cannot always be determined by just looking at a stat sheet. However, statistical information can provide some insight into trends and how teams react in certain situations. For example, the Devils have had success when scoring first (14-4-1-4), when leading after the first period (10-4-0-1) and when ahead after the second (14-0-0-1).

This season the breakdown of scoring for and against by period looks like this: first period 40-40, second period 35-47, third period 50-44. The team has trailed in the second, but rebounded in the third.

“I don’t know you can attribute that to anything other than that it’s not 60 minutes; that’s the most important part,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky after Thursday’s practice. “ We’ve struggled to put a stretch together where we have played a solid 60. At times we’ve gone into third periods down and when we get that goal, we seem to get energized like we did on Sunday against Binghamton. It was a lifeless game and then, that tying goal, we came to life.

“We have to find a way to create that energy, that passion or that life right from the drop of the puck right to the final buzzer. If we do, we are going to end up winning a lot more hockey games than we have lately.”

This season the Devils wins and losses have come in bunches. Consider that the Devils have had winning streaks of five games (Dec.1-14), three games (Dec. 29-Jan. 6; Feb. 5-10), and two games (Jan. 25-26). Currently, the team is trying to buck a four-game slide.

“After a loss, you should have a little bit more fire in your belly from a competitive standpoint,” Kowalsky said. “You should want to redeem yourself regardless if you played well or not. We need to win. We have to start identifying and looking at the schedule and realizing the games that we should or need to have.”

With two months remaining in the season, the Devils expect a tough battle for the top eight spots in the Eastern Conference.

“We want more consistency,” said defenseman Dan Kelly. “We are five points out of a playoff spot. We really want to get there. We can’t let our highs get too high and our lows get too low. We are trying to have more highs than lows. We have to start winning these points and stop giving teams points and just put points on the board.”

The Devils will face two teams ahead of them in the standings this weekend. They travel to the fourth-place Binghamton Senators Saturday at 7:05 pm before hosting the eighth-place Hershey Bears Sunday at 4 pm at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

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On Thursday, New Jersey reassigned Jean-Sebastien Berube and Harry Young from Albany to Trenton (ECHL). Also, Albany returned Kelly Zajac on loan to Trenton.

“You have to play to get your confidence back,” Kowalsky said. “If they are going come in here and not play many minutes, it’s more beneficial for them to play down there. All of them can get in the lineup, just not right now.

“There are just guys who are going to play ahead of them right now. They have to understand that. They are all players who have the ability to play here and will still possibly get that opportunity. But right now, I think it’s better for them to go down and play specialty teams situations, play a lot more minutes and in a lot more situations than they would here. It’s good for their conditioning. It’s good for their timing and again they get confidence so when they do get back they can step right into the lineup.

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