For the first time since 2012, playoff hockey will return to St. John’s as the IceCaps look to win their first round series against the Albany Devils at home beginning with Game 3 tonight from Mile One Centre.
Friday Night Heroics
Game one of the IceCaps first round series with the Devils went particularly in favour of the IceCaps. The game itself lacked any big offensive breakouts as both clubs played a very safe, and conservative game as both sides looked to get to know their opponent as the two teams did not meet in the regular season. Both goaltenders - Michael Hutchinson for the IceCaps, and Keith Kinkaid for the Devils put on great performances as neither goalie wanted to give up an edge in the series.
In fact, both teams remained tied for the final 38-minutes of the game, locked at one-goal apiece until IceCaps defencemen Ben Chiarot beat Kinkaid with a shot with 24-seconds remaining in regulation for the 2-1 victory.
Game Two Equalizer
After having game one slip through their fingertips, the Albany Devils played a more fast paced game as they doubled up the IceCaps 4-2 to even the series at one.
The IceCaps got two goals from Brenden Kichton as he opened the scoring for both teams, and later in the game tied the match at 2. However, it would not be enough as the Devils scored two unanswered goals for the victory.
Both Kinkaid and Hutchinson made 30-saves in the contest with different results.
Improvements to be Made
For the IceCaps, there are several improvements which must be made if they want to win the series. one improvement which must be made coming out of game two is the need to take away the Devils powerplay opportunities and to shut down their powerplay unit. The Devils went 3 for 9 with the man advantage on Saturday. The IceCaps were charged with 4-minor penalties in the second period, including a 5-on-3 for almost 2-minutes, meaning Hutchinson had to be on top of his game to keep his team in it. As a result, the IceCaps managed just on 3-shots on net in the frame - one of the lowest totals for the team all season.
As well, the team must take more quality shots on net as they outshot the Devils 20-5 in the third period without capitalizing once. As a result, the IceCaps faced a well-rested Kinkaid - as he only saw 3 shots against during the second period, resulting in a rejuvenated goaltender in the third, and with each stop his confidence building. If the IceCaps want to build momentum on Kinkaid, they need to fire pucks at him early and often, and to make them count.
Top Guns Producing
Finally, if the IceCaps want to move on to win this series, the club is going to need to get more offense from their big guns. In particular Johnny Albert, Jerome Samson, and Andrew Gordon are a trio which the IceCaps will need to light the lamp. During the regular season, the three combined for 78-goals, however, they have yet to score in the two-games against the Devils. In fact, 3 of the 4 IceCaps goals have come from defencemen, and if St. John’s want to move on, their big guns are going to need to start burying some opportunities.
Regular Season Standings
St. John’s IceCaps: 46-23-7 Overall ; 23-10-5 At Home
Albany Devils: 40-23-13 Overall ; 16-14-8 On The Road
Powerplay in Playoffs
St. Johns IceCaps: 1/9 – 11%
Albany Devils: 4/11 – 36%
Shots on Goal
St. Johns IceCaps: 64
Albany Devils: 60