If the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins absolutely love skating at the opulent PPL Center in downtown Allentown (and they certainly do, as the historical record clearly indicates), then it is the Albany Devils who are simply overjoyed to play against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms anytime, anyplace and, quite literally, anywhere. As it stands, the Albany Devils have defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms all five times the two teams have met so far including the two American Hockey League matches last season held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Tonight, the AHL farm club of the New Jersey Devils look to continue their dominance over the Philadelphia Flyers’ top affiliate as Albany welcomes Lehigh Valley to the Times Union Center (originally known as Knickerbocker Arena and later Pepsi Arena) in the capital city of the State of New York for the very first time ever.
Albany are actually in the midst of a five-game winning streak and not only show the third-most victories in the Eastern Conference but, indeed, have the fourth-highest total of wins in the entire 30-team AHL at present. As has been typical of the New Jersey organization for the past two decades now, the Devils-In-Training play a very conservative, defensively responsible game of which the overriding philosophy is ‘safety first’. Some refer to this as rather boring ice hockey but the bottom line oftentimes is that it does bring results (and Calder Cup participation).
Not surprisingly, the number one farm club of the franchise that Wayne Gretzky, himself, once called a “Mickey Mouse organization” has one of the stingiest defensive records in the whole 30-team American Hockey League at this moment :
61 go – 30 ga – 2.03 avg … Ontario Reign
69 go – 32 ga – 2.16 avg … ALBANY DEVILS
72 go – 32 ga – 2.25 avg … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
76 go – 32 ga – 2.38 avg … Grand Rapid Griffins
88 go – 37 ga – 2.38 avg … Toronto Marlies
Albany have been significantly strengthened by the return of veteran Scott Wedgewood (6 ga, 1.87 avg, .926 svpct), the 3rd round pick (# 84 overall) of the New Jersey Devils at the 2010 NHL Draft who missed most of the first half of this 2015/16 AHL season suffering from the lingering effects of an ankle injury. The bulk of the load so far has been more than capably carried by veteran Yann Danis (25 ga, 2.09 avg, .915 svpct), the very well traveled 34-year-old from Brown University who has appeared in 53 career NHL games for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils as well as the Edmonton Oilers and was a also goaltender for the Adirondack Phantoms during their last season in upstate New York. These two netminders have essentially alternated games since Wedgewood got back; since Danis got the start for the Albany Devils on Friday night the 6-4 win over the Syracuse Crunch, it will probably be Wedgewood in between the pipes against the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday evening.