ALBANY, NY — When asked after Monday’s 5-2 win against Bridgeport if he would rather have a goal and an assist or a +3 rating, Dan Kelly thought for a split second and responded:
“Probably the +3. It got me out of the minus column and back to even.”
Now in this fourth professional season, the Devils defenseman has been able to avoid playing in the “minus” for the past three years. He ranks first all-time in franchise history with a +24 rating.
“Me personally, that’s the stat I love,” Kelly said. “I try to be on for as least goals as possible — that’s my job. When I’m out there for when we score goals that’s a plus.”
Thanks to the help of a +5 rating during the last three games, Kelly is a +1 in 14 games. In the offensive zone, he has a goal and four assists, including his multi-point effort against the Sound Tigers.
“That’s an added perk,” he said. “I’m not offensively gifted normally. I’m a crash and banger and I play strong defense. When you get those opportunities it’s just a bonus.”
At 24 years old, Kelly is the second oldest blueliner on Albany’s roster and served as an assistant captain while Mike Sislo was sidelined between Oct. 23-30.
“He’s a competitor and always has been,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky, who has been with Kelly for the last four seasons. “He’s slowly improved and developed every year. He’s a meat-and-potatoes-type guy. Those points are just a bonus, but I think his energy, his effort, his grit and what he brings to the rink not only in games, but in practice is something that’s contagious. He’s a leader in that room.
“We’ve asked our [defensemen] to get a little more involved and he has done that. They have to be smart about it. Dan should be a plus player. With that being said, he usually plays against the top guys every night, so it’s not an easy task. He’s hard to play against and that’s really what makes him an important guy for us.”
Defensively, the Devils rank near the top in the AHL. They are first for shots-against per game (24.93) and eighth for goals-against average (2.71). Albany is 5-1-0-1 when allowing two or fewer goals.
Upcoming, the team heads to Hartford Friday and Syracuse Saturday. Albany is scheduled to practice Thursday at Times Union Center at 10:30 am.
Reid Boucher, Riley Boychuk, Mike Hoeffel, Stefan Matteau, Chris McKelvie, Rostislav Olesz, Rod Pelley, Harri Pesonen, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Scott Timmins, Joe Whitney, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac, Kelly Zajac