NEWS: Jeff Frazee To Stay With Devils Organization

Frazee will likely end up competing with Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood for one of two goaltender jobs with the Albany Devils.

Prospect Buzz: Albany Goaltending Has Not Been A Problem

Pat Pickens

While the New Jersey Devils goaltending has been a source of recent stress, the Albany Devils have not struggled with such problems.

The three-headed monster of Keith Kinkaid, Jeff Frazee and Scott Wedgewood have combined for an .899 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against average in 59 games.

Toss out Wedgewood’s so-so three games, and Frazee and Kinkaid have combined for a 2.62 goals-against and .912 save percentage.

“(Kinkaid) has been good for us all year,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said Sunday after Albany’s 2-0 loss to Bridgeport. “Our goaltending hasn’t been an issue.”

The problem is, Kinkaid and Frazee — and more recently Wedgewood — have been doomed by Albany’s sudden lack of offense. As was discussed Sunday, Albany’s power play is converting just 11.4 percent of the time.

“We’d be sitting in a lot better position than we are now if it was better,” Kowalsky said.

With Tim Sestito called up — and perhaps another forward making the jump after Alex Ponikarovsky’s recent injury — offense may continue to be the A-Devils’ downfall.

Most of you know that Stefan Matteau was sent back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Sunday.

But what does that actually mean?

Matteau was eligible to return to Blainville-Brisbois because he is only 19-years old. When Blainville-Brisbois’ season ends — the Armada open a best-of-seven series with Acadie-Bathurst Thursday — Matteau will be eligible to complete the year with Albany or return to New Jersey.

Matteau, who only recorded three points in 17 games, already has played in enough NHL games to start his waiver clock. I imagine since Matteau obviously was not quite NHL ready yet, the Devils are trying to let him gain some confidence and keep him from reaching the 160 games which also would remove him from waiver exemption.

Life On The Farm Is No Glamorous Road

Pat Pickens

No Albany Devil has recorded more points in two years than Joe Whitney.

The 5-6, 170-pound winger’s game is tenacious and feisty. Playing such a game has enabled him to record 85 points in 122 AHL games in Albany.

“He’s playing with intensity, he’s competing,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said Sunday after Albany’s 2-0 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. “He’s not a big guy, but he’s strong on the puck. He’s been doing it all for us.

“I’ve really liked his play.”

Joe Whitney

Joe Whitney

Still Whitney’s not gotten his call. Many of his teammates have. Heck, his linemate — 30-year-old winger Matt Anderson — even got his brief moment in the show, recording an assist in two games in New Jersey  earlier this year.

“I’m happy for those guys who get to go up,” Whitney said Sunday after the Devils’ 2-0 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

But Whitney’s not concerning himself with all that. The recently-turned 25-year old is working to help the A-Devils’ struggling power play and trying to help Albany reach the Calder Cup playoffs.

“We haven’t gotten rewarded much,” Whitney said of the power play. “We’ve got to figure it out down the stretch if we want to win some games and get into the playoffs.”

Albany sits in ninth, just one point behind eighth-place Syracuse, with only 16 games left.

“I’m giving it everything I’ve got every night,” Whitney said. “Right now, it’s about wins.”

The road to the NHL is littered with stories like Whitney’s. Anderson was one until he got his call this February. But after only two games, he was sent back to Albany.

Likewise, A-Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid spent eight days with New Jersey — playing in just one game — before being recalled for Jeff Frazee on March 6.

“It’s just more stuff to work on,” Kinkaid said. “It’s a battle to get back up there.”

With Martin Brodeur’s return imminent, Frazee likely will be sent back to the AHL life of riding buses and playing three games in three days over a weekend that takes you from Rochester, N.Y. to Syracuse to Bridgeport, Conn. like this past weekend did.

It’s by no means glamorous.

Still, it’s playing hockey for a living.

A Day On The Farm With The Albany Devils

The Albany Devils’ power play ranks 28th out of 30 American Hockey League teams– firing at just 11.4 percent. Albany entered Sunday’s game in Bridgeport having scored just 1-of-its-last-20 man advantages.

Yet, somehow Albany’s power play found a way to be worse.

Albany was 0-for-3, failing to score on a 5-minute first-period major. Plus, when given a third-period man advantage, the Devils surrendered a shorthanded goal– the game-winner in the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ 2-0 win.

“It’s killed us,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “It’s up to the guys to execute and make plays; ironically, on their shorthanded goal, it looked like our defenseman was afraid to make a mistake.”

Keith Kinkaid stopped 41 of 43 shots, taking a tough-luck loss. He was named the game’s No. 3 star.

“We just couldn’t get inside shots,” Kinkaid said. “I thought we played well defensively … unfortunately, a turnover leads to a goal, and that’s the way game goes.”

Nino Niederreiter and Brock Nelson each scored goals. Rick DiPietro stopped 33 shots, taking home the No. 1 star.

Through two periods, the A-Devils and Sound Tigers were scoreless. Kinkaid stopped 28 shots through two periods.

The Tigers and Devils engaged in three fights through two periods. Cam Janssen, shocker, dropped the gloves early. Unlikely scrappers Chad Wiseman and Steve Zalewski dropped the gloves as well.

Albany’s top scorer, Joe Whitney, had his six-game point streak snapped.

The Devils’ top line, Whitney, Phil DeSimone and Matt Anderson, were each a minus-1.

Albany defender Raman Hrabarenka left the game after just 34 seconds after being boarded by Kirill Kabanov. Kabanov was given a major penalty.

Eric Gelinas led the Devils with six shots on goal.

Albany dropped its second straight, falling back into ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Prospect Buzz: College Kids Hit Tournament Time

 

College hockey tournaments are in full swing, which means there are prospects to keep our eyes on.

  • Devils’ prospect Derek Rodwell scored a goal and was a plus-1 in the Fighting Sioux’s 5-3, best-of-three contest against Michigan Tech.
  • Blake Pietila, a forward for Tech, was a minus-3 in that same contest.
  • Blake Coleman, for Miami University, had a tough night, finishing minus-1 in the Redhawks’ 3-0 loss to Michigan State in the CCHA quarterfinals.
  • Michigan defender Jon Merrill was a plus-1 in Michigan’s 4-3 win over Western Michigan Friday night in the CCHA Quarters.

Last week, we talked about Scott Wedgewood’s future prospects.

Evidently, he’s OK at winning games in Albany.

The 20-year old netminder won his first two AHL starts, beating Adirondack 3-2 on Sunday.

Wedgewood had stopped 23 shots the night before in his AHL debut, beating Springfield 4-1. He

To keep their playoff hopes alive, the Albany Devils will need to be road warriors.

Albany opened a six-game road trip last night in Rochester. The A-Devils will trek to the East’s top seed, Syracuse Saturday, before taking on Bridgeport Sunday in a St. Patrick’s Day matinee.

The A-Devils, who beat Rochester to jump ahead of Connecticut and Manchester into the East’s No. 7 spot, will face a similar challenge next weekend when they substitute Rochester for Binghamton, then meet Syracuse and Bridgeport on Saturday and Sunday.

Joe Whitney, a 25-year old, 5-6, 170-pound forward, leads Albany with 40 points in 48 games. Whitney tallied an assist in Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Americans.

Keith Kinkaid made 31 saves in Albany’s win Friday.

 

Midterm Grades: It’s The Goalie!

Corey Griffin

Brodeur-Hedberg

Has the Devils’ goaltending duo been a boost or a weight around their neck? Hmm.

Being that the Devils are at the half-way point of the season (OK, a couple games past it but cut us some slack), we decided to do some “grades” for this team. Originally, this was supposed to be one full post, but after compiling them, it seems better to break them up into different pieces today. Earlier, we gave you our grades for the forwards and the defensemen. Now, we get to the goalies.

(Disclaimer: All “grades” comments are usually entirely too general and tend to omit more detail than normal, so apologies in advance if we left a player out.)

To read more of this story, click here

Prospect Buzz: Boucher Sets Sting Record; A Look At Goaltending

Pat Pickens

To hold the Sarnia Sting’s single-season scoring record is no small accomplishment.

But Reid Boucher has it all to himself.

We discussed his chances of scoring 60-plus goals in a season last week, but 59 goals in 63 games is still something else.

Mr. Boucher’s had a lot of press come his way, deservedly so, but to trump a record held by Steven Stamkos is no small feat. Plus, Sarnia still has five games left this year, so don’t discount Boucher from at least three or four more goals.

Boucher’s been getting a lot of press today, but today– as a response to Martin Brodeur’s balky back, and Johan Hedberg’s inability to stop pucks– we can visit New Jersey’s young goaltending situation.

It’s of paramount importance. As I said yesterday, Brodeur is done after next year, and Hedberg appears to be done now.

We’ve seen Keith Kinkaid, Jeff Frazee is up with the big club, and Scott Wedgewood– who recently was promoted to Albany — could be the next big thing. The Devils signed him from Plymouth of the OHL last year.

Still, Wedgewood has struggled this year. He was only 17-21-5 in the ECHL in Trenton, with an .895 save percentage and 3.24 goals-against average. He is just 20 years-old, but those numbers are alarming.

Frazee, on the other hand, has displayed confidence, and it feels like he’s been in the system forever. He’s only 25 years old, but it’s getting late quickly for him. Plus, he’s only played in 21 games in Albany, ceding much of the play to Kinkaid.

Kinkaid is 23 and has earned the lion’s share of AHL play. Kinkaid’s 17-11-5-2 in 45 decisions thus far in Albany.

I’d venture to guess Kinkaid is the heir to Brodeur’s throne. But, based on the Hockey’s Future boards, none of them are projected to be superstars.

NEWS: Kinkaid, Janssen Back To Albany

The Devils made a trio of roster moves Wednesday morning, sending Cam Janssen and Keith Kinkaid back to Albany and recalling goalie Jeff Frazee.

Corey Griffin

This move is as much about getting Kinkaid playing time as it is committing to Johan Hedberg as the Devils’ starting goalie while Martin Brodeur is out. The Devils think enough of Kinkaid that they want him to play consistent minutes and 26 minutes in a week is not enough for a young, developing goalie. Frazee had spent most of his professional career with the Devils’ AHL affiliates since being drafted in the second round in 2005. His time as the Devils’ potential goalie of the future has likely passed him by and he’ll spend the next week or so backing up Hedberg, who will see the majority (if not all) of starts while Brodeur is sidelined by his balky back.

As for Janssen, we weep for the end of the New Jersey Bash Brothers, but it was pretty obvious last night that he and Barch have no place on the same roster. In fact, I’m shocked Janssen isn’t facing some sort of NHL discipline for the hit he put on Cory Conacher last night. I can’t imagine that helped his stock with the coaching staff. With Janssen down, that creates an open roster spot — and some intriguing options. Will the Devils recall Jacob Josefson or Matt Anderson? Do they have a waiver claim in on veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik? I doubt the latter, but the former is certainly possible. We’ll know by noon if the Devils have put in a claim but if that’s not the corresponding move, we may be waiting until Thursday.