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Devils ready to start 2013 against Springfield

Look for the Albany Devils to try to play a little keep-away from the Springfield Falcons on Saturday night. They managed a 4-3 win at Springfield on Dec. 27 by keeping the action in the Falcons’ zone as often as possible.

“Some quick, skilled forwards, and it’s the same on the back end. Their D are very aggressive,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “They’re a skating team that is dangerous off the rush because they’ve got skill up front, but their D are very involved in the rush. We have to respect that and be aware of it, because a simple three-on-two or three-on-three situation with them can turn into a five-on-three the way they get up ice. I thought we did a good job, after Christmas, of getting pucks deep and making them play in their own end, and that’s something we’re going to have to do again because they’re a dangerous team with a lot of skill.”

The win was part of a 7-3-1-1 month of December for Albany.

“Scoring some goals helped,” Kowalsky said. “The penalty kill has been really strong. The power play, obviously, still needs to get better, but in a few games where we needed it, contributed a little bit. And just as a group, we’ve been playing well. Four lines, we’ve managed to get a lot of people involved in this stretch. Goaltending has been good. It’s just been that we’ve been playing a good team game, and that’s what we need to continue to do. I still wish we could put the puck in the net a little bit more, and I still think we have to spend some more time on the power play. We made an adjustment after Christmas, and we had three goals in three games on it. Hopefully, that’s a step in the right direction, because I think it definitely has hurt us. We’d be in a lot better position if we could have capitalized on the power play a little more in the first two months.”

“We had a few bounces go our way and got a couple wins, and I think the team just rolled with it,” Albany right wing Bobby Butler said. “We felt how good it felt to win, and we just went from there.”

Butler had 11 goals and five assists in the month. He is on a four-game point streak (4-2-6).

He also has five power-play goals on the season. The power play has been awful for most of the season (13-for-134, 9.7 percent, last of 30 teams), but Kowalsky said he has seen some improvement since Christmas.

“Unfortunately, we put ourselves in a position where, no matter what we do on the power play, if we don’t score, we’re upset,” he said. “But we have to look at the tape and see this is what we were trying to do, we created chances, we created shooting opportunities. Did we shoot the puck enough? So we’ve made some adjustments, and we’ve got something to show for it, but it’s still about getting as many opportunities as possible, even if you don’t score.”


Many of the Devils will be turning on the tube early in the morning to watch the World Juniors championship game between the United States and Sweden on Saturday at 8. There are four Swedes on the team (defensemen Adam Larsson and Alexander Urbom, and forwards Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby) and another behind the bench (assistant coach Tommy Albelin).

“Just yesterday, when Sweden was in the shootout, was when guys started to pay attention,” Butler said. “It’s a big match-up, USA-Sweden. We’ve got a bunch of guys from Sweden, so it should be fun. We’ll see what happens.

“We have a family dinner on the line,” Butler said. “We’ll see who wins. It should be good. I live in a building with most of the Swedes, so it should be interesting.”


Jean-Sebastien Berube has been skating with Albany since Dec. 26.

“He’s coming along,” Kowalsky said. “It’s been good that he’s been able to skate with the team. When he first came back, we had a three-in-three there, so he didn’t get a lot of team practice. This week’s been good for him, and he’s looked good. He’s a big body who keeps it simple and goes to the net. He’s not ready yet, he’s not in game shape, and his shoulder might still need some strengthening. He’s cleared enough for contact, but practice contact and game contact are a little different.”

Scott Parse (lower body) is out indefinitely. Joe Whitney (knee) skated with the team briefly Friday.

“I’m guessing he will be available for next weekend, but we’ve got all next week to practice,” Kowalsky said.

Beyond that, the Devils are just battling the usual bumps and sniffles.

“We’ve got the usual cold and flu season,” Kowalsky. “[David] Wohlberg got hit with it real bad over the break. Energy level, weight is down a bit. We’ll see how he feels. He’s skated. Dan Kelly had that before the break and is good now, but wasn’t available after the break. Some of these things linger on these guys because this game takes a lot out of you.”

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