– I’ll get to comments from Kevin Dean and Dave Caruso in a bit…but let me get some stuff out of the way real quick.
— Dave Leaderer has, in fact, been called up to AHL Albany. That should be made official tomorrow. About time. All you need to know about Leaderer is tonight’s was the first Trenton Devils game he’s missed since he signed. Steady in every way, I hope he does well up there and sticks.
— Also, Dan Charleston (leg) is physically in Trenton and was in the locker room after the game. Probably the first time I’ve seen a player in a suit taping up sticks…think he’s anxious to get back out there? I wouldn’t rule him out for tomorrow, but I wouldn’t be too optimistic there, either.
— Andy Thomas (lower body) is progressing pretty well, according to Dean. Matt Vokes (ankle) will have a decision made on him in a little bit, and Gord Burnett (back) should be available in about a week.
— Caruso starts tomorrow.
— I’ll have a bunch more on the game in a minute, but nobody comes here for what I say…here’s Deaner and Dave after the game.
“Defense is team defense. When I say the defense, I don’t mean just the defensemen. But the team defense played much better. We protected the dangerous area of the ice in front our net. We weren’t turning pucks over in the neutral zone as much, sometimes you can’t help it. We just did a lot of little things that cut down…they had 34 or 36 shots or whatever…but I don’t feel like they had a ton of quality, Grade-A chances. Not like they had the first four games.”
(On his team coming right back after the first Gwinnett goal) “I was (happy). I kind of just saw the end of it. I haven’t seen it yet, but I was kind of wondering about that. If you say it was soft, I’ll take your word for it. But other than that, he played very well. He handled the puck extremely well, broke us out a couple times. He played a solid game for sure.”
“(Kell-Ginand-Zajac) You’ve got a little bit of everything on that line. You’ve got some grit with Kell and Zajac. You’ve got a lot of hockey sense and just good hockey players in Kell and Ginand and some offense with those guys. And speed with Ginand. So you’ve got a little bit of everything in that group. When they’re playing the right way, they’re hard to play against because they’ve got speed and a little bit of size and grit and they should be tough to play against. If we get them to stop and start on broken plays, their game’s going to be really hard to play against.”
“It was moreso (chippy) than the first few games for sure. But they’ve got, I wouldn’t say chippy guys, but a couple guys that look for that stuff. Vince and I were talking between the periods, and that’s good for us, I think. It gets guys a little bit annoyed and raises the level of intensity a little bit. I think that’s good, and I think it’s good for the young guys to see that a little bit as well.”
“We had a couple good chances (on the late 5-on-3). (Sauer) made a real good save on Ginand. He made a good save or two on Ginand on a nice play. But I want to see more urgency there. You’re smelling blood, it’s a 5-on-3, push the pace, play with some confidence. We looked shaky and nervous on it, I thought. Very controlled and scared about the puck. Just boom — attack the puck and play with some urgency. That’s all. You’re not going to score on every one of those, but you should score on the majority of them. At that point in the game, you’ve got to get pucks to the net and just play with some urgency.”
(The first goal) “They were shooting kind of weird shots today. It was almost like a grenade. When a slower shot comes in, it’s harder to control because it doesn’t go into your body as easy. When it came in, it kind of got me and exploded. Sometimes, when they shoot pucks from the point — not this team, but in general — the D shoots a slower shot and that’s harder to stop than an actual hard shot. It just caught me funny. Maybe I was cheating a little too much.”
“I guess the third time’s a charm (Caruso won his first game in his third start last season). It feels good. It feels good to do it against my former team and it feels good to get a win. We want to get something going. Our D played well, so it was a pretty good all around game.”
“You always want to play well against your former team. You know their tendencies, so maybe you feel a little more confident when you’re going against them. I know their power play pretty well. I know their coach, I know their system. I think I might feel a little more comfortable playing against them. And I like playing against them here and not in Gwinnett. We’ve played against them enough in Gwinnett.”
“I don’t really have a preference (on going first or second in the shootout). Whatever the coach says, because you have no control. You could be first the first time, you could be second the next time. I only had one shootout last year. You control what you can control, try to follow the puck. For me, it’s follow the puck with my stick. That’s my key. I really like our shootout guys, they have a lot of good moves. (Ginand) almost had one. I feel confident in them. I think this is the best shootout team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
“Now, they’re not doing the ice, so I think that’s an advantage to the goalies. I don’t think you’re going to see as many goals, they’re going to need to shoot a little bit more.”
— The power play was 0-for-8 tonight. It never looked good. Too much hesitation in entering the zone most of the time. And, as Dean said, not enough shots on the 5-on-3. They should have ended the game then.
— Nice effort out of Caruso tonight. Best game I’ve seen him play in a long time. The first goal was bad, but he knows it, I know it…no point in rehashing it. It didn’t cost them, and that’s the big thing. He made the big stops when he needed to, and his save with 30 seconds to go on that 2-on-1 was huge.
— Am I overstating how impressive Ryan Ginand has looked in the first three home games? He’s really seemed like the best player on the ice on most occasions. I can only think of one occasion where I was disappointed with him tonight…he was a little hesitant on a pass by the bench-side boards in his own end. Other than that, another good effort.
— Liked Matt Lombardi’s skating…strong skater. Didn’t put up much on the scoresheet though, just one shot.
— Taylor Vichorek. I’d seen him in practice and didn’t think he was a strong skater then. Saw him tonight, same thing. He skates like a big dude, and he needs to…well, make great strides if he’s going to continue to progress. Instincts, skating…you see flashes of what he can be, but he has a way to go.
— Was nice to see Jeremy Akeson with a letter on his sweater tonight. Thing is, and I hate to say it, he hasn’t looked too good so far this season. And that’s surprising given how impressive I thought he was in camp. But he looks tentative at times and isn’t hitting the net when he is able to generate chances.
— Did anyone notice Chris Poli tonight? I didn’t. That wasn’t the case most nights he was in Trenton, so I was surprised by that. Maybe it was just me.
— I’m a little surprised that Caruso will get back-to-back starts. His play certainly warranted that, but I wonder if it’s more indicative of the struggles of Jeff Lerg.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com