Albany 3, Adirondack 2 12/2
If you take a look at Adirondack's efforts Friday and Saturday -- generating 40-plus shots on goal in each game -- he argued the team is going to come away with a win on most nights they play that way.
"It's an important time for the young players, for our team to understand," the coach said. "There are not a lot of things that are wrong. We're outshooting teams by a wide margin and getting good territorial play, good scoring opportunities. There's not a lot of things that need to be changed or worked at. I think we're doing a good job. Just stay with the program and things will turn around."
You'd hope, though, it's sooner rather than later. Adirondack has fallen back below .500 and wrapped up a six-game homestand 3-3. They had opened it 3-0. The fact that this latest loss came to a last-place Albany team that has scored the least goals in the Eastern Conference is particularly tough.
The Devils have won an American Hockey League-low five times in 18 outings. They are 3-1 against Adirondack. For whatever reason, the Devils have had their rival's number this season.
"They play pretty similar to a lot of teams," Murray said. "Their focus is the checking part of the game. They really play a territorial game along the boards. Three, four guys are on you right away in their d-zone, but you see that around the game now. I don't think anything that's unusual about it."
The Phantoms, Murray noted, ended up with 46 shots. Kinkaid played extremely well. Hard to believe that was only the second game he's won all year.
"I think we were the better team today," defenseman Erik Gustafsson said. "We pretty much gave them three goals on individual mistakes. We have to be sharper from the get-go through 60 minutes."
Joe Whitney banged in a rebound with three seconds left in the first period. Jacob Josefson may or may not have kicked a puck in in the first minute of the second period. Mattias Tedenby harmlessly threw one at the net in the third period that hit Cal Heeter's goalie stick and trickled in for a 3-1 lead.
Tye McGinn had a strong effort on his last power play goal, sticking with the play and bouncing a puck off Kinkaid's mask from behind the net to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 76 seconds to go. They got no closer. Interestingly, though, Murray shortened the bench for the final 10 minutes of the third period. I didn't see Tyler Brown, Eric Wellwood, Mike Testwuide, Oliver Lauridsen or Zack FitzGerald out there at all as the Phantoms were trying to climb out of their two-goal hole.
"That's what you have to do," Murray said. "You have to try to get back into it. You play your best players. You load up your one line, put (Brayden) Schenn on the left side, and you're hoping that something good can come out of it. You want to play players who have the ability and have some momentum behind them like (winger Harry Zolnierczyk) has some nice things going for him in his game right now, so you want to take advantage of that. It's not anything against anybody else that's not playing a lot, it's just that we're trying to find a way to get it done there."
Zac Rinaldo missed the game. He took a puck off the foot/ankle during yesterday's game and was icing it down afterwards. I didn't get a chance to ask Murray about a timetable for his return, but I saw Rinaldo after the game and he wasn't on crutches or wearing a boot or anything. Actually, he was on the ice for the post-game skate, standing right by the home team entrance in a suit.
Now, onto FitzGerald. He played his fourth game of the season -- this time on defense -- and was not used a whole lot. The Phantoms seemed to go with five defensemen pretty much the whole night -- four when they were down late in the third period -- and rotated FitzGerald in sporadically.
I didn't get the move at all. If you're going to use FitzGerald, why wouldn't you use him on a regular shift? You're asking more of your other five d-men and it seems like they'd tire faster. If you want his toughness in the lineup to replace Rinaldo, why not put him in at forward and dress Jeff Dimmen?
Murray, though, said Dimmen was injured. He's been skating lately, so I suppose that means he's still not back in game shape after an injury he suffered in practice three weeks ago. We're nowhere near Clear Day territory yet where players develop phantom injuries as a way of getting around the roster.
And the official word for Marc-Andre Bourdon's scratch was that he was ill. Seemed to be a game-time decision, so it sounds like FitzGerald going wasn't exactly planned. More out of necessity.
FitzGerald did make sure the Devils were on their best behavior when he was on the ice, though. Corbin McPherson leveled Garrett Roe in the left-wing corner late in the first period. FitzGerald came on a few minutes later and bumped McPherson and gave him a slash. That was the extent of it.
The team is back on the ice Monday. Expect an update then.
Until next time,