TROY, NY – How good has the Albany Devils penalty kill been as of late? Just ask Bridgeport, Manchester, Hershey, Adirondack, Norfolk and Utica. Those have been the Devils opponents during the last eight games where the penalty kill has gone a perfect 35-for-35.
The result is a 5-2-0-1 record during that span, leading into the Devils weekend set against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Saturday at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall and against the Providence Bruins Sunday at Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
“The penalty kill is just a commitment thing,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “It’s players willing to block shots. A sense of urgency needs to be done on both specialty teams situations, but I just think our four-man pressure and our reads off each other have been much better.”
For the season, the Devils penalty kill ranks tied for eighth at 83.9 percent. Last year, the team finished 25th in the AHL with at 81.1 percent.
“They’ve been hurrying out, coming back to their spots and not letting up big opportunities,” said goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who was between the pipes for two of Albany’s wins last weekend. “[The unit is] not letting the other teams walk in and keeping them to the outside.
“First and foremost, our pressure on [teams] getting into the zone has been great, so it has been keeping them out of the zone quite a bit.”
“It’s a huge momentum swing,” Kowalsky said. “There’s nothing like getting on a power play; Adirondack was a prime example. They have an opportunity to maybe take a lead in the game and take over the game. They had momentum. We not only get one [shorthanded goal], but we get two. It’s very deflating.”
Springfield was the last team to net a power-play goal against Albany – back on Feb. 4. This weekend, the Devils face the 22nd-best power play in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (15.1) and the eighth-best power play in Providence (18.5).
Reid Boucher, Mike Hoeffel, Cam Janssen, Stefan Matteau, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Mattias Tedenby, Scott Timmins, Joe Whitney, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac, Kelly Zajac