ALBANY, NY — The Albany Devils capitalized three times in the second period en route to a 4-1 victory against the Springfield Falcons Tuesday at Times Union Center.
Here are three thoughts on Tuesday’s action:
Short Roster? No Problem
Even prior to injuries, the Devils are essentially short an entire starting lineup with six players (three forwards, two defensemen, and a goalie) playing significant roles for New Jersey. Compounding the players missing to call ups are a laundry list of injuries which have sidelined six more players. While the team has seen several roster upheavals this season, Kowalsky felt this was thinnest the roster had been all season.
However, he was rightfully confident in his team’s abilities. Players stepped up to fill the void and dominated play early. In addition to great nights from the top line, Johnson picked up his first goal of the year and Burlon added his fourth of the season (and first since December 19th). Newcomer Gunnar Hughes had the primary assist on O’Brien’s goal and defensive stalwart Corbin McPherson had an assist.
“These are extreme situations right here and now,” Kowalsky said. “I talked to guys about our structure and our habits and the details of our game which have been great all year. We don’t even have twelve forwards. It’s a little more ice time for a lot of guys. Gunnar Hughes came in and did a great job, Ben Johnson was exceptional tonight. The guys who are supposed to be good were good for us.”
Welcome Back Yann
Danis returned to action for the first time since March 4. He was used sparingly while recalled to New Jersey, but he was in game rhythm from the drop of the puck. Danis looked very calm in net, he was quick and used both his glove and blocker well. It wasn’t his toughest game, but his solid play helped the team remain confident before the offense came alive.
“You don’t want him sitting too long,” Kowalsky said. “You see with Yann, he’s a veteran guy, even in practice he was really sharp. He picked right up where he left off. He makes some tough saves look easy. He was solid for us, in games like this he can be an extra boost for us when we’re short some bodies.”
O’Brien Red Hot
O’Brien’s offensive explosion since March 11th has seen him be among the best in the league. With his second period goal, he has 12 points in seven games. O’Brien was a force in all three zones throughout the game. It was no surprise that the veteran was named an alternate captain for the game with his strong two-way play and incredible determination.
O’Brien’s goal was a beautiful slap shot. Racing into the zone on the rush O’Brien sniped his shot from the near circle to beat the goaltender far side, just inside the post and below the crossbar.
“We had a really good first period, but couldn’t find the back of the net,” O’Brien said. “We just kept at it and eventually the goals came. It’s a great honor to named an alternate captain, but we have a lot of good leaders in that room. Not much has changed. We’ve got a good group.”