Wherever Jacques Lemaire is residing in the New Jersey Devils organization these days, they might want to bring him in to teach their young defensemen how to effectively bring the puck out of the zone. The team that was revolutionary in changing the sport of hockey with their legendary trapping scheme, now appears trapped more often than not without being able to create a solid rush to aid their offense.
Granted I’m more of a quality over quantity guy when it comes to shots on goal, but nothing personifies this enigma more than when against the Worcester Sharks, not only did the Albany Devils get out shot 42-20 on the whole, but during the first period the Sharks had almost as many (19) as that Devils final output. Even with Olivier Magnan and Anssi Salmela (who was a -2) on the blue line there still remains some back there that can’t move the puck out cleanly like Alexander Urbom, Tyler Eckford or even a veteran player like Rob Davidson who gets himself into trouble with poor positioning and pursuit of the puck.
Mid-way through the first Worcester got on the board first when Andrew Desjardins broke through on Mike McKenna as he couldn’t corral a bouncer, for the 1-0 edge. After Stephen Gionta took a needless holding penalty near the neutral zone boards, the Sharks doubled their lead with under a minute to go on a sweet one-timer Sean Sullivan power-play goal. It was a brutal 19-5 advantage in shots after one and a two goal lead for Worcester.
It was more of the same for the Sharks as they hopped aboard the Cheechoo-train, when T.J. Trevelyan from behind the net found Jonathan Cheechoo in the slot to put Worcester up three.
Then moving ahead to the third the “worst lead in hockey” became cliche no more. Early in the period Tyler Eckford sent a nice pass high off the glass, down the side board to a streaking Matt Anderson who beat Carter Hutton for his tenth goal of the year. As an aside, AHL All-Star voting has begun and if you give anyone a nod in the balloting, number 29 of Albany is as deserving as anyone of getting the nod.
Following the Anderson goal, mid-way through the third it was captain Stephen Gionta with the spin around goal in front from Michael Swift to cut the lead to one, for Gionta the marker was his third of the season. Exactly one minute later on the dot, Tim Sestito who is always a true gamer, ended up with a grinder goal (his second of the season) from Olivier Magnan and Chad Wiseman and the Devils were back in business with the score locked at 3-3.
However a little over a minute later the wheels came off again. Albany couldn’t clear the puck out front and Tommy Wingels was there for the ever deflating goal, one the Sharks would never relinquish. Worcester also added a score from Jason Pitton and an empty net goal from Brandon Mashinter to salt away the 6-3 win.
So alas in the end the Devils despite their best efforts could not fully replicate the valiant comeback they made against these same Sharks in Worcester. As their Albany home woes continue (you can count on former Chicago Cubs pitcher Mordecai Brown’s hand just how many wins they’ve totaled in front of the home faithful: (hint his nickname was “Three Finger” for a reason) they’ll try to cast their luck with a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins down in Atlantic City.
With the loss the Devils record falls to 11-16-0-0 (22 points) on the season. They are ten points behind the Charlotte Checkers for the final playoff spot in the East Division and trail the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by six in the final Atlantic Division crossover playoff spot, if one is tracking such things at this point in the year. Speaking of Bridgeport, they will be the next home opponent for the Devils in Albany. That game taking place on December 28, 2010 is in fact a Tuesday, contrary to the “Saturday” listing on the “Red Alert” sheets given out prior to Saturday night’s game. But really, what do you want for free? Accuracy.
On another minor footnote, locals Nick Petrecki and Jay Leach suited up for the Sharks but did not factor point wise into any of the six Worcester goals.