Anderson's magical recall and other notes
When I think of someone making it to “The Bigs,” I think of the description Crash Davis gives his teammates on the bus in the movie “Bull Durham.”
He tells them the team hires someone to carry their bags, and the news brings ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the young prospects on the bus.
Albany Devils’ right wing Matt Anderson got a taste of “The Bigs” last week, playing his first two NHL games at age 30 with New Jersey and collecting his first NHL point on an assist.
His welcome-to-the-majors moment, though, had nothing to do with luggage.
“When I first got to the hotel in Boston, it wasn’t really anything hockey-wise. I got to the hotel, and Magic Johnson got out of the car behind me,” Anderson said after Thursday’s practice. “It was kind of, ‘Wow, I’m in a little different city,’ you know? But it [the moment] wasn’t anything too special. The guys made it real simple, and the Devils, as an organization made it really, an easy transition for me. We do a lot of the same things here that they do there, so kudos to them for making it easy.”
Asked if the NBA Hall of Famer congratulated him on his first NHL recall, Anderson joked, “Yeah, he did. He was most impressed by the hair on my bobblehead.”
Anderson came back to the Devils and turned in a great performance in Tuesday’s shootout win over Connecticut. He scored the first goal and assisted on the next two as the Devils built a 3-0 lead. They later lost that lead and had to go through a shootout — they had been 0-8 in shootouts entering the night — but Anderson and Chad Wiseman both tallied in the breakaway contest, and goalie Keith Kinkaid stopped all four shooters the Whale threw at him, giving Albany its first shootout win of the season.
The big day for Anderson was residual success from his stint with New Jersey, he said.
“I think, coming back from New Jersey, it was a great experience,” he said. “I think I regained a little bit of focus and picked up some little things in the limited time I was there, and some of the little things I picked up — the intensity of the game, the intensity of that game — I’m trying to bring a little more of that into mine.”
He admitted the taste he got of the NHL whetted his appetite, making him a little hungrier to get back to the top level, but said that hunger hasn’t made him impatient.
“Yeah. Having said that, though, I think I’ve got to have some perspective,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve seen guys go up and down and bounce around. I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I have, and I understand these situations don’t come around very often, and when they do, you have to take advantage of them. When that time comes again, it comes. It’s not something I can really worry about or think about before I go to bed at night. I’ll just continue to work hard, and hopefully, those opportunities will come more often than not.”
The Albany Devils were scheduled to play at Springfield on Friday to start a three-in-three entirely on the road, but the incoming winter storm Nemo forced Springfield to postpone the game to April 2 at 7 p.m.
“It’s in our favor,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “You take three in three nights away, with a lot of travel. It would have been troublesome, no matter what.
“These don’t always work out in your favor, but I think in this situation, it may.”
Having an extra day for practice also helps.
“It gives us a little more time to work on some things and get a full practice in,” Kowalsky said. “We decided to go with an optional yesterday, didn’t have a lot of guys skate. The majority of the guys just did off-ice workouts. So it gives us a little extra today, and now tomorrow can be a little shorter, we can specialize, do some power-play stuff, things like that. That extra day right now, when you were worried about three in three, and now you have two, your concern with resting the guys isn’t quite as important as it was.”
The team will likely travel to Syracuse on Saturday for its game that night at 7:30 instead of getting there Friday night. After Saturday’s game, they will decide whether to head straight to Binghamton for Sunday’s game or to head out in the morning.
PERSONNEL AND INJURIES
The Devils have added a trio of players in the last week. They got right wing Cam Janssen sent down from New Jersey in time to play the last three games, and since have added two Russian players to the mix.
Defenseman Stefan Stepanov is a rookie Kowalsky is seeing for the first time and learning about on the fly. Centerman Andrei Loktionov is a fourth-year guy who has split time between the Los Angeles Kings and their AHL club, the Manchester Monarchs.
“The young kid, [we know] nothing. Nothing at all,” Kowalsky said. “He’s here, right now, from an organizational standpoint, just to see where he’s at. Obviously, they saw some things they liked and really, this is, there’s no promise of playing. He’s just here to get a look at him.
“Loktionov, I haven’t seen him a ton, but I like him. He’s got skill, but I really like his play away from the puck in the games where we’ve seen him. He has speed, he’s a power-play guy, he’s a penalty killer, he plays in all those situations. He’s a guy who, there’s no question, is going to step in and help us right away. I think if he plays well here, he’s going to be looking at an opportunity at the next level.”
Left wing Jean-Sebastien Berube is back with Albany, as well, and the ice at Knickerbacker Arena in Troy on Thursday was pretty crowded. Left wing Mattias Tedenby (lower body) practiced with the team, but Kowalsky was unsure of his status for the weekend. Centerman David Wohlberg (lower body) was also questionable.
“He’s looked better,” Kowalsky said of Tedenby. “A little bit better every day, but hasn’t felt 100 percent.
“Wohlberg, I think, should be clear to go. Again, it’s with our scheduling here, whether we think he’s in game shape yet.”