Saturday, January 26, 2013

Albany 5, Adirondack 2 1/26

Before we get into the post-game analysis of the Adirondack Phantoms 5-2 loss to Albany Saturday afternoon, a couple items of note.

First, as you can see from the photo at right, Tye McGinn scored his first NHL goal in the Philadelphia Flyers' 7-1 rout of Florida. He also added his first NHL assist.

Secondly, Eric Wellwood was sent back to the Phantoms to open up a roster spot for Danny Briere, who returned from a wrist injury. I think the fact that Wellwood was sent down over McGinn illustrates just how effective McGinn has been in the NHL. If you need more proof, refer to the photo above right.

Then, at the opposite end of the spectrum, The Trentonian's Mike Ashmore writes that Cal Heeter could be in some hot water after an incident that got him ejected from Trenton's loss to Wheeling Saturday night. After the Nailers' Matt Germain got a puck past him, Heeter shot the puck off the glass and into the stands, earning a game misconduct in his Titans debut. Ashmore noted that a similar incident netted a former Trenton Devil a 12-game suspension in the 2010-11 ECHL season.

"I got scored on and sort of lost my cool," Heeter told The Trentonian. “That’s my fault, I’ve got to take responsibility for that, I need to be more level-headed. I turned around and fired the puck and it took off on me. That’s my first experience with that rule, so I guess that’s a game and they kick you out.”


Now onto the game at hand.

The breakdowns that ultimately doomed the Phantoms Friday night in Glens Falls again doomed them Saturday afternoon in Albany. Except instead of taking place late in the game, they were right there in the first period. Steve Zalewski was given a lot of time in front and he deflected a point-shot right past goalie Scott Munroe's glove. Then, Bobby Butler is standing right in front of the crease and he just pokes a loose puck right past Scott Munroe. Harri Pesonen also batted in a rebound.

"The low coverage was not good," Phantoms coach Terry Murray said. "We got beat from boards to the front of the net. They had people in position on the first goal - the point shot - then just beat us to the net off of other plays. Our reads were not good and we were not ready to play."

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson was on the ice for all three Phantoms goals in the first period. He and Brandon Manning both finished -3 for the second straight night. Manning was pretty candid after yesterday's loss, saying the two of them had to be better, but Gustafsson took it to a new level today.

He said it was good to get back out there and get two games under his belt after missing six weeks with an ankle injury, but wasn't exactly thrilled with his performance.

"It was fun to play, but I played like sh-," Gustafsson said, catching himself before he uttered the second syllable. "I played terrible. So that's not good."

There's an old axiom that says that more machines break down because of rust than overuse, and Gustafsson said he was still feeling some rust out there.

"Timing is not really there," Gustafsson said. "There's some other few things, other small things that I didn't do right, but overall just playing bad. I don't know. I just have to be better than that."

The Devils, who are 6-1-0-1 against the Phantoms and 11-13-1-7 against the rest of the American Hockey League, clinched the Time Warner Cable Cup with the win. With four games left in the season series, the most points the Phantoms can get is 12. The Devils already have 13, but the Phantoms were more focused on the overall standings, and the impact these back-to-back losses have.

"It’s too close right now (in the) fight for the playoffs," center Marcel Noebels said. "Albany is six points ahead of us (in the standings). We can’t lose to the same team twice on the same weekend."

Noebels and Danny Syvret scored power play goals to twice cut Adirondack's deficit down to two, but the Phantoms could never bounce back from that dismal start. Albany was up 3-0 before the game was 15 minutes old, then Pesonen scored to make it 4-2 and Darcy Zajac added an empty-netter.

"We lost way too many one-on-one battles in our own zone," Noebels said. "We got beat to the net twice or three times and that cost us goals. The same goals happened twice in a row."

They'll get four days off for the All-Star break, but it's not exactly coming at a great time. Thanks to their three-game losing streak, there's now just one team in the entire AHL with fewer points than their 37. The Phantoms know exactly the magnitude of the task waiting for them when they get back.

“Now we’re just delaying the obvious,” Phantoms winger Harry Zolnierczyk said. “We have to get out of this hole. Obviously we’ll have to take this break and use it to our advantage and regroup and be ready when we come back, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us here.”

I'll be at the All-Star skills competition and game Sunday and Monday in Providence, so check for some blog updates throughout the next couple days.

Until next time,


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