Scrimmage a good exercise for all involved
It was a productive trip down to Newark on Wednesday, and not just for the Albany Devils, who scrimmaged their parent club in an effort to provide a game atmosphere and enough players to simulate rolling four lines.
“It was good,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “It was probably more beneficial for them. We have some guys who haven’t played a lot and haven’t played in a while. So to get them a little bit of game experience heading into the weekend with potentially the lightest lineup we’ve had all year, as far as personnel, I think was good. Our guys skated and challenged them, and I know they [New Jersey Devils] were pretty happy with being able to have a scrimmage at that pace and having four lines and four D, and getting both their goaltenders some quality shots and minutes, I think was key for them.”
Even though New Jersey, as a whole, may have benefited more than Albany, as a whole, the AHL Devils did get something out of it. The players who have not seen much ice time, especially, can take something from the trip.
“[Phil] DeSimone hasn’t played center, but he’s probably going to play center this weekend. [David] Wohlberg, same thing, these are guys who have been in and out of the lineup. Raman Hrabarenka hasn’t played in a while,” Kowalsky said. “So we talked about systems, talked about what we need to do better in between periods, and I think the biggest thing is we competed and played with pace, which is what they [New Jersey] needed. It was definitely more beneficial for our guys who maybe haven’t been in the lineup as much.”
Kowalsky said he thinks the chance to play in front of the New Jersey brass, and against the top players in the organization, may have rattled the nerves of some of the Albany players early in the contest. They settled in, though, and made a good impression.
“I think as a player, wherever you are in your career, to get in front of NHL coaches and Lou Lamoriello and those people — who are always evaluating you on a daily basis anyways — but to actually be in that environment, even though it’s for one day, you want to put your best foot forward,” Kowalsky said. “I think guys were excited and I’ll be honest, we looked a little nervous at the beginning. We threw the puck away in the first five minutes, just along the boards and on some breakouts. I told the guys to settle down, but also, challenge yourself. It’s a good test against an NHL team. I thought we fared well, and most importantly, we gave them a good game. I talked to their coaching staff after, and Pete [DeBoer] was really happy with the pace and the way we challenged them a little bit in the defensive zone. I think they got a lot out of it, and hopefully, it didn’t take too much gas out of us for the weekend.”
Forwards Chad Wiseman (lower body) and Scott Parse (hip) comprise the injury report for the Devils this weekend.
“[Wiseman is] very questionable for the weekend,” Kowalsky said. “It’s just kind of an ongoing thing for him. It’s a progressive thing that hasn’t gotten better the way he wants it to, and we’ve got to maybe take a step back.
“[Parse is] back on the ice. He’s skated a couple days. He’s another guy where we want to take a big step back before we try to take another step forward. Obviously, right now, if we can get him healthy and back in the lineup, he’s going to play some minutes for us, if we can, indeed, do that. But he’s still at least a week or more away yet.”