TROY, NY – After going 6-2-0-0 during the first month of the season, the Albany Devils feel they have put to rest the concerns about filling the holes left from this off-season’s free agency. The team’s depth on defense is proving a weapon.
Entering Wednesday’s 11 am game at the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the devils are tied for fourth in the league with a 2. 38 goals-against average.
As Steven Santini nears returning to health, Albany has eight extremely capable defensemen on its blue line. That benefit has allowed Head Coach Rick Kowalsky to rest players whether it to be to recover from bumps and bruises or to reflect on their performances.
Fourth-year pro Seth Helgeson’s absence from Saturday’s 4-3 win against the Toronto Marlies was a coach’s decision. An unexpected move that Kowalsky believes will pay off very soon.
“When we have seven to eight defensemen who can play and we want to give these young guys a look, there needs to be a reason for some of these guys to come out,” the Devils’ bench boss said after Monday’s practice. “Helgeson has been through a lot the last couple of seasons with recalls. Sometimes if you just sit up top, watch a game and you look at it differently. Moving forward we are going to have to continue to rotate guys through here. He’s got to be better and I think he certainly knows it. Hopefully this is all it takes.”
• INJURY UPDATE
Santini skated with the team Monday and is an option for Wednesday’s game. After playing at Providence on Oct. 23 and at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Oct. 26, the Devils’ rookie missed back-to-back games with an upper-body injury.
“We’ll see how he feels today and tomorrow,” Kowalsky said. “He’s still sore today. He’s with the last group going on so we’ll see how he responds today. The next step is to get him into a full practice and go from there.”
Carter Camper, who has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury, could make a return Saturday at the Hershey Bears.
“If all goes well today we’ll get him on the ice tomorrow,” Kowalsky said. “If he feels good, he’ll skate when we are gone and hopefully he’ll be back to full participation Thursday.”
• DAY WITH THE CUP
Ben Sexton, who had the game-tying goal during the Devils comeback victory against Toronto Saturday, missed last Thursday’s practice for personal reasons. By “personal reasons” we mean to say, he got to hang out with the Stanley Cup.
Sexton’s father Randy, is the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Thursday was his day with hockey’s Holy Grail.
“It was pretty special,” Sexton said. “I was very fortunate that Rick and management allowed me to go home for the day. You hope it’s not an once-in-a-lifetime experience, but anytime a family member or someone close to you wins the Stanley Cup it’s something special. I was very fortunate enough to go home and spend the day with some family and friends.”
Don’t worry he didn’t touch it.
“I didn’t, no. The lady who was taking pictures for the family kept telling me to put my hand on it. I just kept putting it right in front of it.”