After a 7 game battle with the Toronto Marlies the Albany Devils season is over. No justice in the fact that the 2nd best team in the AHL had to play the best team in the second round. It was an overall successful season for the Devils though. Finishing with 102 pts and a 46-20-8-2 record is nothing to hang their heads about. They also did very well employing a stringent defensive system that led them to a league low 167 goals against. The Devils are probably the toughest opponents the Marlies will face en route to their championship. Yet the Devils had the chance to beat them and shot themselves in the foot. A lack of discipline plagued the Devils in games 4 and 5 that lead to the Marlies getting 14 power play opportunities and converting on 6 of them. It relinquished the momentum the Devils had accumulated over the course of their 2-1 series lead. The Devils battled in game 6 to force a game 7 but beating the Marlies in a raucous Ricoh Coliseum was too tough a task. It was certainly a heavyweight bout but even in this loss there are some positives to take out of this playoff run.
Damon Severson had himself a strong playoff run. After a letdown sophomore season Severson was sent down to the AHL for the playoffs to gain some confidence and add some talent to Albany’s blue line. And he definitely succeeded in both regards. Severson was very confident throughout the series v.s Utica and Toronto. He provided some scoring with 8 assist and 27 shots and helped run Albany’s offense. It was nice to see him play like he did in his rookie season before the injury. Hopefully this stint in Albany is a sign of things to come and Severson can make a jump next season in New Jersey.
Nick Lappin was a late signing by New Jersey to provide some depth for Albany’s playoff run. Coming off his senior season at Brown where he led the team in points and made the All Ivy League First Team Lappin had an impressive college resume and it was hoped that he could provide some organizational depth at right wing. Lappin did more than that as he was a key player for Albany in the playoffs. Netting 5 goals in 11 playoff games, none of them were more important than the game tying goal v.s the Marlies in game 3 with 20 seconds left on the clock. Maybe the only one as important was the OT winner Lappin scored later in the same game. A key contributor and probably Albany’s most valuable player through 2 playoff series, Lappin could get his shot in Newark very soon.
Reid Boucher continued his stellar season between the NHL/AHL. Racking up 10 points in 11 games, Boucher was another key component of Albany’s offense. He carried a 9 game point streak through the first round series against Utica. One of those points being the game winning goal against Utica in the series clinching game 4. Not stopping there after going dormant for the first 5 games of the Toronto series Boucher showed up in the clutch and helped stave off elimination in game 6 with a goal and an assist. Boucher should get a spot on the Devil’s opening night roster so hopefully next season he can carry some of this momentum and confidence over into the NHL.
One player who underperformed in the playoffs was Joseph Blandisi. Blandisi was sent down mainly to work on his defensive game as it appeared to be a weak point. Blandisi responded to this by playing extremely undisciplined throughout the playoffs. On top of that, Blandisi only got 3 points over the 11 games, though it is hard to score from the penalty box. Though it wasn’t for a lack of trying as Blandisi put 20 shots on net. The edge Blandisi plays with is a pro most of the time, but when it is hurting the team and leading to the other team getting power play goals he needs to learn when to reel it in. Blandisi is developing into what could be a Brad Marchand type player (which the Devils most certainly would like to have) but he has to learn when it is smart to take a penalty and when it is detrimental to the team. Hopefully over the offseason he works on his defensive game and comes back better from this experience. He is still an extremely skilled playmaker who the Devils certainly want on the team next year, he just needs to improve the other aspects of his game like defensive awareness and discipline.