A welcome break
The AHL will break for a few days for Monday's All-Star Game in Providence, and the break arrives right on time for the Devils, who have played in six games and one scrimmage in the last 11 days.
Albany played in a scrimmage against New Jersey on Jan. 16, then played a three-in-three in three different cities, then hosted Springfield Wednesday, then played a home-and-home this weekend against Adirondack. Just 17 hours separated the end of Friday's game and beginning of Saturday afternoon's.
"This was a tough one," Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said of the 2 p.m. start Saturday. "We haven't had a game with this quick a turnaround, I think, ever. We've had some 3 o'clock starts, but even that hour is big. If you really look back to the scrimmage game two Wednesday's ago, we've gone Wednesday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday afternoon, here we are. I think we looked a little tired, mentally and physically, and this break comes at a good time. But again, I told the guys after, it wasn't our best, but those are four big points to finish before the break.
"I think we're ready for a break. I think tonight gave you an idea that we are. The Christmas break is such a short one, and usually guys come back more tired from that because they're racing back to see family and friends, and they're not getting the rest and they don't treat their bodies right. Then you come back, and you're right at it. This is definitely a time to heal and mentally get right away from the rink, whether the guys go somewhere or not. We're able to get back, and we come back and only play back-to-back games, albeit on the road. But I think it is a good time for these guys to have a rest. And the second half of the schedule, which we're into now, is going to be a grind."
Albany left wing Harri Pesonen and defenseman Eric Gelinas both said they're ready for the break, but Adirondack coach Terry Murray said he'd rather play right through.
"I like to keep going," Murray said. "I don't really like to have a break. These weeks where you have four days of practice, I think that takes a lot away from your ability to build some momentum. I think young hockey players need to play hockey, and I'd rather just keep pushing on right now."
"It's a well-deserved break," said Gelinas, who will head home to visit family in Canada. "We've played a lot of games lately. It can't hurt to just rest and go back at it, finish the season strong after the break. I think people will come back rested."
"I think it's a good break for everybody just to reload and take it easy a couple days and maybe not think about hockey, just do something else and relax," said Pesonen, who will go on a road trip with a friend to Boston. "Come back with full energy, a full tank and keep playing the next half. Our goal is to make playoffs, and that's a big challenge for us."