Despite some struggles in the last couple of weeks, the Albany Devils will play tonight for some momentum heading into the Christmas break.
After the franchise’s first-ever win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday, the Devils didn’t skate Tuesday, instead resting for tonight’s home game against Binghamton. They then will be off until Monday, when they play at Binghamton.
“If we get two points, then we get some time to rest, I think it’s coming at the right time,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “As much as there might be a little bit of physical fatigue, I think there’s some mental fatigue.”
He said some of the Devils seem to be frustrated with their individual games, and it may be wearing on them. A little time off for the holiday could help freshen them.
Despite any fatigue, Albany beat the Penguins on Monday for the first time in 15 tries. Looking back to 2005, the Pens had a streak of 18 wins against all AHL affiliates of the New Jersey Devils.
“I don’t have to look past last year’s games, as far as the organization is concerned, to know that was a big win in that building,” Kowalsky said. “We talked about it, we really addressed it, and for two periods, we were really solid.”
Rookie Mike Hoeffel put Albany on top for good with his second goal of the game at 15:22. The defense tightened up late in front of goalie Jeff Frazee, who made 25 saves for the win, some of them after injuring his hand or arm in a collision.
“Frazee was outstanding,” Kowalsky said. “He was the key. Not real busy for the first two periods, but made five of his best saves of the year in that third period when we needed him to.”
Frazee’s status was undetermined early Tuesday afternoon because the extent of his injury was unknown. He may not even dress to back up rookie Keith Kinkaid tonight.
Other Devils who could use the time off to heal include right wings Nathan Perkovich (upper body) and Steve Bernier (broken thumb), and defensemen Jay Leach (lower body) and Dan Kelly (illness). Kelly had just had surgery on his broken nose before getting sick.
“Then the poor bugger got strep throat,” Kowalsky said. “I don’t know if he’s breathing out of his ears or what, you know? Your nose is all plugged up, and your throat — you can’t even swallow.”
Devils defenseman Matt Corrente (upper body) is a game-time decision, Kowalsky said.
“From a confidence standpoint,” he said, “I think I would like to get him one game before the break.”