The Albany Devils Calder Cup playoff hopes have stayed alive with a win in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday, April 17. The A-Devils still do not control their own destiny going into the final game of the 2014-15 season against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday, a 5 PM matinee at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York.
On Friday, while the A-Devils were winning in Pennsylvania, the Springfield Falcons, who currently occupy the final spot in the Eastern Conference, lost in a shootout, 4-3 to the St. John’s IceCaps (the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets), while the Portland Pirates, who the Devils are tied with for the ninth spot in the East, lost to the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, 3-2 in regulation.
With all of that, the Devils need to win at home against Hartford on Saturday, while the Falcons (who again play the IceCaps in Newfoundland) must lose in either regulation or overtime and the Pirates must fail to gain two points when they play the Providence Bruins on Saturday or the Worcester Sharks on Sunday. All of this information comes via Kevin Zalaznik and the A-Devils official website.
The A-Devils improved to 36-28-5-6 as they got their ninth win in their last twelve games. They beat the Penguins 4-0 as Scott Clemmensen got the shutout win while making 22 saves. The Devils got a goal and an assist each from Darcy Zajac (brother of Travis Zajac) and Joe Whitney. The other two goals came from Stefan Matteau and Brandon Burlon.
As mentioned in the recap of the game on the A-Devils website (in the Game Notes section), Joe Whitney, when he notched his 57th and 58th points of the season, tied for second on the team’s single-season record with Ben Walter (son of former NHL player Ryan Walter), who registered the same amount (58) in 2009-10. First overall in that category is Petr Vrana, with 61 points in 2007-08. Both Walter and Vrana set their records when the team was playing in Lowell, Massachusetts as the Lowell Devils.
Although the A-Devils do not determine their own destiny, and it would take a minor miracle for them to get into the playoffs, what they have done over the last few weeks has been nothing short of amazing. They are showing great heart and it is testament to Head Coach Rick Kowalsky and his staff (which includes former New Jersey Devil great Sergei Brylin) and their motivation and hard work. The players have really stepped up and have shown that they are being prepared nicely for careers in the National Hockey League, should they get the call-up next year or in the future.
A win against Hartford on “Fan Appreciation Weekend” will get them so far, the team just needs some pieces to fall into place for them to be included in the Calder Cup festivities this season. Hopefully this can happen because you would hate to see a story like the A-Devils have given not play out. In a way, this run by the AHL team is similar to the run the NHL’s Devils went on back in 1988 when they became a late addition to the Stanley Cup playoffs and then went on a Cinderella run for the ages. If they can complete it, the similarities will make them a good pick for upsets no matter how far they advance into the Calder Cup playoffs this year.
Heart and determination can go a long way; the Albany Devils have proven that this season. They can continue to prove that versus Hartford tonight. They will need a little bit of luck to get into the Calder Cup playoffs in 2015, but they have shown that their heart has gotten them into the mix. Heart and luck will get them in overall.