TROY, NY – Albany Devils captain and veteran blueliner Jay Leach has been out for the last four games with a lower-body injury. In his absence, Dan Kelly, Corbin McPherson and Alexander Urbom have been tabbed to fill the void, logging more minutes and playing in different situations.
“Urbom, Kelly and McPherson really are probably our steadiest stay-at-home guys,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky after Thursday’s practice at Knickerbacker Ice Arena. “[Brandon] Burlon and [Eric] Gelinas are a little more offensive minded, puck moving guys. The first three are the ones who are going to eat up the minutes since Jay has been gone. We have to find someone to fill that void.”
Leach brings his 478 career AHL game to the team when he is in the lineup. Combined Kelly, McPherson and Urbom have logged 370.
“Obviously losing Jay — him being our captain on and off the ice — he’s an old school guy,” Kowalsky said. “He wants to win. We are eager to get him back, but those guys are going to have to hold the fort until he does.”
Kelly and Urbom are in their third professional seasons, appearing in 149 and 166 career AHL outings, respectively. Kelly has registered four goals and 14 assists for 18 points with a plus-14 rating and 222 penalty minutes. Urbom, who has appeared in 13 NHL games and was a 2012 AHL All-Star, has posted four goals and 37 assists for 41 points with 141 penalty minutes.
“Guys have to step up their games and play a little smarter and conserve a little more energy in the d-zone,” Kelly said. “We miss him out there and hope he gets back quick. I think the guys are trying to step up and are doing a pretty good job.”
McPherson, who played nine games with Albany at the end of last year, has played 55 career games, producing two goals and four assists for six points with a plus-1 mark and 27 penalty minutes. The rookie defenseman has played in 45 consecutive contests.
“With more games and more time on the blue line, I’m definitely a little bit more confident with the puck,” McPherson said Sunday after netting a goal just 22 seconds into the game against Binghamton.
The Devils defensemen will be tested during a pair of games this weekend. Binghamton has outscored opponents 151-125, while Hershey is ahead 129-123.
Albany, which ranks seventh in the league for fewest shots against, is on pace to set a franchise record, averaging 28.73 shots against per game. The current record is 29.91 set last year.
Listen to Corbin McPherson interview, which will be played during Sunday’s second intermission CLICK HERE