Dealing with the Devils has proven to be a losing position thus far in the AHL season. The Albany Devils, farm club to the NHL's New Jersey Devils organization, got off to a hellacious start right from the opening bell. Team scoring and defense and star goaltending have been the early story. Netminders Mackenzie Blackwood, Scott Appleby, and Scott Wedgewood have combined for a sparkling .932 save percentage and a 1.96 goals-against average. Albany is the last remaining undefeated team in the AHL with a perfect 5-0-0 record. Luckily the club did some math to see what type of pace the team is on.
Just ran some calculations and we are on pace for a 76 win season! #UnitedInRed— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) October 23, 2016
John Quenneville is leading the Baby Devils with three goals and an assist in the early going. Fresh off a WHL championship with the Brandon Wheat Kings with a trip to the Memorial Cup, Quenville is quickly transitioning to the professional game. The 30th pick in the 2013 draft posted 73 points in the WHL last year and 27 more points in the postseason. With a seemingly endless search for offense in New Jersey, Quenneville could be in line for a call-up later this season or next if he continues to flourish.
The quality goalies in New Jersey continues to roll onward. Corey Schneider is one of the NHL's best, comparing favorably across the board to Henrik Lundqvist.
Scott Wedgwood cleared waivers to get down to Albany and likely, with the Goalie Groin Flu pandemic going around in the NHL, wouldn't make it back up if New Jersey needed him. Ken Appleby was recently sent down to the ECHL, but the crease at every level of the Devils organization looked to be in fine shape.
The Great Goalie Groin Flu Pandemic of 2016
The AHL is feeling the effects of the The Great Goalie Groin Flu Pandemic of 2016. Los Angeles Kings goalies Jon Quick and Jeff Zatkoff both caught the bug leaving the incredible situation where a father-son duo of Johan Imoo and Dusty Imoo were the starting and backup goalies for the Ontario Reign as they took on the San Jose Barracuda
Despite the history between the pipes, the Reign would drop a 5-4 OT decision to the Barracuda as San Jose's Danny O'Regan would pot the overtime game-winning goal.
This flu didn't stop there. Mike Smith is week-to-week, forcing the call-up of Justin Peters from the Tuscon Roadrunners, leaving Adin Hill in his first year out of the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks, the shoulder the load for the young squad.
The Goalie Groin Flu is not just a West Coast illness. Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Kohbodin recently went down, forcing the Bruins to call-up both Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre from the Providence Bruins on an emergency basis. Daniel Vladar and Matt Ginn both have been called-up from the ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators to fill the suddenly double openings throughout the organization.
Add in the struggles in net for the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, and Ottawa Senators, with good prospects down in the AHL it could be a big year for call-ups (and scrambles to fill those gaps) for teams in the AHL.
Other AHL notes:
Brendan Leipsic currently leads the AHL with nine points in six game. After a 54 point effort last year, he likely will get a cup of coffee with the Toronto Maple Leafs at some point, even with the youthful line-up.
Anthony Mantha was sent down to the Grand Rapid Griffins, which was a surprise to some. Reports are he’s playing well on both sides of the puck and leads the team and the league with six goals, but not a single assist. This is similar to his production in the QMJHL where his goals to assist ratio was nearly 1:1 in 189 games. Detroit fans should not be panicked with Mantha, who has played over 120 games in the AHL thus far and is coming along as expected.
Juuse Saros was lights out for the Milwaukee Admirals before a call-up to the Nashville Predators, where he promptly won his first game as a starter. Saros gave three goals in three games with a .964 save percentage. Last year was the lowest season save percentage (.920) with his main club since Saros was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He has to be considered a top goaltending prospect in the AHL and his quick acclimation to each increased in competition, his time in the AHL may be nearing an end.
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