Goaltending Not A Concern For The Devils
ALBANY, NY – Goaltending is not something Rick Kowalsky is losing sleep over. If he is, it’s trying to decide who his Game 1 starter will be Friday when the Albany Devils host the Utica Comets at Times Union Center. All season long, Yann Danis and Scott Wedgewood have helped the Devils post the second-best goals-against average in the AHL at 2.20.
When asked Wednesday who will lead the Devils out of the tunnel for Game 1, Kowalsky didn’t exactly answer the question.
“We are going to have another discussion today, but they both played well,” Kowalsky said. “Both have done a pretty good job against Utica as well. Some factors go into it, but we will sit down with Scott [Clemmensen] and have an idea tomorrow.”
The good news for Albany is, statistically, they have two of the top netminders in the league. Danis tied a franchise record with 28 wins and eight shutouts and finished with a 2.22 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage. Wedgewood, who missed significant time throughout the season with various injuries, was 14-3-3 with a 1.55 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and two shutouts.
Kowalsky indicated that splitting duties is not out of the realm of possibilities. Certain situations will dictate who is between the pipes.
“It’s been a healthy competition and guys have played well in front of them both,” Kowalsky said. “I think the biggest thing is the schedule; back-to-back games right away to start. Depending on what the temperature is, dehydration, all that stuff comes into play.
“There is no question it’s a luxury to have two guys we can go with. You are seeing it in the NHL games right now. Teams are switching goaltenders mid-series and it’s making a difference.”
By The Numbers
Danis is making his fifth stint in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He won the championship with Hamilton in 2007 and played significant minutes for Oklahoma City in 2012 and 2013 and with Hartford last season.
Along with Danis’ 26 career Calder Cup Playoffs wins, the veteran netminder also bring a calming demeanor to the players around him.
“I’m not the most talkative guy out there, but I think that’s one of my strengths: being calm no matter what happens,” Danis said. “I try to be a source of that during the course of the game. Hopefully I can bring that to the team in the playoffs.”
Wedgewood doesn’t have the Calder Cup experience that Danis has, but Wedgewood is no stranger to the big stage. He represented Team Canada during the 2012 World Junior Championship and recently made his NHL debut, posting a 2-1-0 record with a 1.25 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage.
Wedgewood seems to welcome the challenge.
“The pressure always builds moving into the postseason,” Wedgewood said. “The pressure of playing your first NHL game and the stakes up there. Playing at the World Juniors was a big stage with big crowds. I had a lot of good experience throughout juniors. Our team made it every year. It’s a different atmosphere and it’s a different mindset. I’ve always liked to rise to the occasion and be able to perform at a high level in high pressure situations. I like that side of the game and it’s kind of what I live for.”
Danis and Wedgewood have posted strong numbers against Utica as well. Both are 3-0-1. Wedgewood had a 1.48 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage. Danis had a 2.21 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Typically, teams are only as strong as their goaltenders during postseason hockey. If the duo carries over its play to the second season, Kowalsky can certainly sleep easy.