Kelly, Gelinas a successful odd couple on D
It seems like an odd couple, the defensive pairing of Dan Kelly and Eric Gelinas, but this weekend showed that it works.
"I think me and Gely balance each other out pretty good," Kelly said. "He's more offensive, and I'm defensive. I move the puck to him, and he gets it up the ice. I take care of the corners in our end and in front of our net, if need be. It's a good balance. He's shooting more, and I'm backing him up so he feels a little safer to jump up."
Gelinas had a goal and an assist Saturday night as fans sat in the stands holding his bobblehead likeness.
Kelly showed Sunday the toughness he brings to the defensive end.
After a deflection left the puck to rookie goalie Scott Wedgewood's right side, Wedgewood stranded above the crease and off his feet, Kelly flung himself down on the goal line across the crease to keep the Phantoms from adding to their one-goal lead in the first period. It caused a ripple effect that brought other Devils piling into the crease to put up a wall in Wedgewood's brief absence.
"A guy went to shoot it, and Dan Kelly made a nice two-pad stack with his shin pads and kept that one out," Wedgewood said. "Then he dove across the net, and I just grabbed the one guy's stick. It could have been a penalty on me, but the puck was just laying there and it's the only option I had. So I grabbed on his stick and made sure he couldn't move it. Then [Alexander] Urbom came in, then [Cam] Janssen came in. Everyone was behind me. It's huge for me, knowing I can trust them and that they're going to put their bodies on the line and bail me out when I need the help."
"You know what? That's the way you've got to play," Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. "Desperation hockey. Dan knows that. He's heart and soul. It certainly isn't pretty, but he's a guy, he lays it on the line every night. He's consistently the most physical guy, he plays a ton of minutes, defensively for us. He plays against the top line all the time and makes life hard on them, as much as possible. That Akeson had a hat trick last night, he's a scary player, and Dan's assignment tonight was to shut him down. He did a pretty good job of it. You like to see that. You want to see guys sacrificing their bodies. You need to this time [of the season], because everybody else's going to do it. The teams that do it more and are willing to pay the price are going to get rewarded."
"It's a desperation play," Kelly said. "Scott's been playing good for us, and you want to do everything you can do to help him. I just saw the puck, so I slid across the net to try to get a piece of it, and it worked out for us."
As much as Kelly wants to be the tough one in the odd coupling with Gelinas, he had to work for that distinction Sunday night.
Right before he went crease diving, Gelinas lit up Adirondack's Tyler Brown in the corner behind the Albany net, separating the second-year man from his stick.
Whether the hit sparked something in Kelly can only be guessed, but he also blocked a shot in the second period and put a hit on Ian Slater in the third that warranted a couple replays on the video board.
"You know, I try to be the most physical D on the back end. So once you see other guys hitting, you get fired up and you want to join in. Slater opened himself up, so I was lucky enough to get a good hit."