Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
Today, the most anticipated series of the Calder Cup Playoffs switches cities, as the Marlies and the Devils move their battle to Albany for the next three games. Albany, known by many as the Steamed Ham capital of the world, is a place where the Devils feel mighty comfortable; they were a league-best 0.763 at home. Toronto, however, had an identical 0.763 on the road, and in their season series, Toronto won two of their three games at the Times Union Center. Can they keep that up, though? We’ll see this week, starting in just a few hours.
Toronto pushed back hard with a huge Game 2 win on Friday night, but and it’s expected that there won’t be too many lineup changes. One that could happen, though, is the North American debut of Andreas Johnson, though nothing has been confirmed yet. Johnson was second in scoring for SHL Champions Frolunda this season, though he had just 4 points in 16 games come playoff time. With that said, the SHL is believed to be a tougher league than the AHL and to be a key player on a championship team is huge, so it’s possible he gets brought in if Sheldon Keefe feels that he needs scoring help on the wing.
It doesn’t look like much will change here either. Jim O’Brien and Pavel Zacha both stayed out of practice yesterday. Brian O’Neill skipped out as well, though he’s believed to stay in the lineup. Both teams are pretty confident with their own odds at the moment and it would be a shock to see anything radical happen unless a team moves to the brink of elimination.
Scott Wedgewood may have let in five goals on Friday, but that hasn’t waved coach Rick Kowalsky’s faith in him. Expect him to start in goal again for Albany. Meanwhile, it appears that Antoine Bibeau will get another look. While he was shaky to start Game 2, he ended the night with 40 saves and was lights out in the back 40 minutes, in which he stopped 27 of 28.
What To Watch For
Albany allowed just 67 goals in 38 games at home this year, a number only bested by Ontario (65), who played four fewer home games. Toronto, on the other hand, were the league’s second-best defensive team on the road (also to Ontario), allowing just 88 goals.
Basically, expect these next three games to be defensive battles. At least one of these is going to end with a 1-0 or 2-1 result if I were to guess.
Puck drop is at 5:00 PM. You can catch the game on LeafsTV, TSN 1050 or AHL Live.