Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekly review

The River Rats' website has the usual weekly rundown

Bowman eager to reach NHL

Rookie forward Drayson Bowman talks with correspondent Lindsay Kramer about his hopes of standing out and reaching the big club. 

Rodney returns, again

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned defenseman Bryan Rodney to the River Rats. 

Rodney was recalled for the second time this season on November 25th. He played one game this time around, registering over 20 minutes of ice-time, four shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating. 

Rodney was filling in for injured Canes' D-man Joni Pitkanen, who is expected to be back in the line-up tonight.

Albany captain Pat Dwyer remains in Raleigh, as forward Chad LaRose has been sidelined with a lower-body injury. 

Forward Scott Walker, who has been out with an upper-body injury since November 15, participated today at the team's morning skate. Goaltender Cam Ward was also briefly on the ice.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Micflikier, Morrison reassigned

The River Rats today reassigned forward Jacob Micflikier and goaltender Mike Morrison to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. 

Micflikier was recalled last week for the second time of the season after Drayson Bowman suffered a knee injury on November 25th. 

Micflikier played two games with Albany over the weekend and scored a goal each night. In five contests with the River Rats this season, Micflikier has three goals and a +4 rating.

Micflikier's reassignment today to Florida suggests either Bowman is recovering well or Albany is expecting captain Pat Dwyer to soon return from the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Veteran goalie Mike Morrison was recalled to Albany on November 18 after Rats' starter Justin Peters was summoned by the Canes. 

Morrison spent five games with Albany but did not get an opportunity to play. 

Peters was returned by Carolina on Friday, paving the way for Morrison's return to the ECHL.

Rats exact revenge on Admirals, 3-2

Post-game coverage:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rodney called back up

Defenseman Bryan Rodney today was called back up to the Carolina Hurricanes to fill in for the injury-prone Joni Pitkanen. 

Pitkanen left the Canes' game last night in Raleigh with an upper-body condition. He has been in and out of the line-up since the start of the season.

Rodney was reassigned to the River Rats from Carolina just last Friday, but skated in only two contests before getting the call once again.  

Albany captain Pat Dwyer, who was called up to the Hurricanes on November 19, may soon be reassigned. 

Dwyer was a healthy scratch last night as Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu returned after missing one game. 

Star forward Eric Staal, who sat out 10 games with an upper-body injury, registered over 20 minutes of ice-time in his second game back.

The Hurricanes blew a 4-1 lead to the Atlanta Thrashers, losing 6-4 after allowing five unanswered goals in the third period.

Rats edged by Admirals in OT, 4-3

Post-game coverage:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Jacob Micflikier recalled

The River Rats today recalled forward Jacob Micflikier from the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. Micflikier is playing for the Rats tonight in Norfolk. He put Albany on the board in the first period with his second AHL goal of the season. 

Justin Peters reassigned

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned goaltender Justin Peters to the Albany River Rats. Peters was recalled to the Canes on November 18 after back-up goalie Michael Leighton suffered a groin pull. Peters spent a week with the big club, but did not get a chance to start. He will likely join the Rats this weekend in Norfolk. Tracking the Storm has the news.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rats outwork Crunch, 4-2

Bryan Rodney, Brett Carson and Jerome Samson celebrate a power play goal on Wednesday night
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Post-game coverage:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

News & Notes

  • Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union chats with Tim Conboy, Bryan Rodney and coach Jeff Daniels about the Rats' well-fortified defensive corps. 
  • The Rats talk to Chris Fitz Gerald at the Troy Record about their goals for the coming week, including their hopes of improving scoring chances, particularly on the power play. 
  • "Coach preaches consistency," says rookie forward Chris Terry to the Schenectady Daily Gazette, "and I think if we become more consistent with our plays and the strategies the coaches draw up for us, I think we'll be more successful."
  • Defenseman Bryan Rodney will play tonight for the first time since being returned from Carolina. Rodney was reassigned to Albany on Friday, but sat out the weekend with the flu.
  • Rob Hennigar is in town and will make his first appearance as a River Rat tonight against Syracuse. He should be wearing #19. Meanwhile, Harrison Reed, who was sent to the ECHL in exchange for Hennigar yesterday, is expected to play for the Florida Everblades this evening in Wheeling, West Virginia.  
  • Forward Tuomo Ruutu of the Carolina Hurricanes left Monday night's game in Dallas with a lower-body injury. He is questionable for tonight's contest against Anaheim. Eric Staal, who missed the Canes' last 10 games with an upper-body injury, is expected to play tonight. Goaltender Michael Leighton, who was curbed with a groin injury on November 17, is recovering well and traveled with team on the road trip.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sutter sticking with Canes

Brandon Sutter
(Photo by jbk-ltd)

Center Brandon Sutter was called up to the Carolina Hurricanes on October 24th. Since then he has tallied five goals and four assists in 14 NHL contests. Sutter has been filling in for Eric Staal on the top line and skating on both special teams. He has almost certainly earned a permanent spot on the big club's roster. Tracking the Storm has more on the "future of the franchise."

Micflikier takes out frustrations on ECHL

Rat-in-reserve Jacob Micflikier has 24 points in 13 games with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. "I know when I come down to the East Coast, my job is to dominate and create as many points as possible," Micflikier tells Lindsay Kramer at "I'm here to prove at some point, that I don't belong here." 

Read the full story here.

River Rats weekly

Hard to believe we are already nine weeks into the season. The Rats' website has the usual rundown

Rats call on Hennigar, reassign Reed

The River Rats today recalled forward Rob Hennigar and reassigned center Harrison Reed to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. The Rats' website has the news. 

The Naples Daily News recently ran a story on Hennigar. Read it here

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rodney's long journey

Bryan Rodney
(Photo by jbk-ltd)

Bryan Rodney had to overcome several obstacles to reach this point in his career. The undrafted defenseman and current Albany alternate captain was once considered a lost cause, but he defied the naysayers and has now proven capable of contributing at the NHL level. 

Writer Gare Joyce at traces Rodney's long journey from juniors to the pros.

Rats squashed by Senators, 4-1

Post-game coverage:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rodney returned

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned Bryan Rodney to the Albany River Rats. 

Rodney was called up on November 11 to fill in for injured defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is set to return tomorrow night. 

In five games with the Canes, Rodney averaged 17:51 of ice-time, tallied two assists and was credited for boosting the team's power play. 

The return of Rodney to the Rats puts eight solid defenders on Albany's roster.

Conboy's return bolsters Rats 'D'

Tim Conboy
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Tim Conboy has returned to Albany, fortifying the River Rats' defense and bringing experience and leadership to a young club. The former team captain is featured in today's Troy Record

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Olson assigned to Everblades

Defenseman Benn Olson today was loaned by the River Rats to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. 

Olson was edged out of the regular line-up by the return of Brett Carson from injury and the reassignment of Jay Harrison and Tim Conboy from Carolina. 

In nine games with Albany this season Olson holds a +1 rating and 21 penalty minutes, including three fighting majors. 

Canes recall Pat Dwyer

The injury-plagued Carolina Hurricanes today recalled Albany's respected captain and top goal-scorer Pat Dwyer.

Dwyer will likely remain with the Canes until star forward Eric Staal recovers from an upper-body injury. Coach Paul Maurice told the Raleigh News & Observer that Staal may return as early as next week. 

In similar news, goaltender Justin Peters will remain with Carolina for an indefinite amount of time. Canes' netminder Michael Leighton, who suffered a groin injury on Tuesday, is listed as "week-to-week." Top goalie Cam Ward, who was cut by a skate blade on November 7, is hoping to return to action on December 5th.  

The Hurricanes play tonight at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Canes to take another?

Be on the lookout today for news of another call-up. Jim Rutherford, General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, tells the Raleigh News & Observer that his club is considering recalling either Jerome Samson or Pat Dwyer. 

Rats crack Crunch, 5-2

Drayson Bowman
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Post-game coverage:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peters called up; Conboy sent down

Having lost two goalies in less than two weeks, the Carolina Hurricanes today recalled Justin Peters. 

Former Albany captain Tim Conboy was reassigned to the River Rats to make room for Peters on the NHL roster, which is limited to 23 players. 

Goaltender Mike Morrison has been called up from the Florida Everblades to back up Mike Murphy in Albany. 

It will be interesting to see who arrives in time for tonight's game.

News & Notes

  • The River Rats' busy schedule continues with three games in four days. Albany will skate at home tonight against Syracuse, in Manchester on Friday and at Binghamton on Saturday. The Rats dropped the first contest against each team, so they should be thirsty for revenge. The standings are also a concern. The Rats fell to fourth place last night after Norfolk picked up two points against Portland. Read the Rats' weekly recap for more.
  • The Rats limped home from Springfield on Sunday, but the tough loss to the Falcons only provided inspiration for the coming week. The team held a spirited practice yesterday, full of heavy skating, on-ice chatter and even a few hits. Albany worked hard on improving special teams and the quality of their scoring chances. Hopefully it will pay off. Look for the Rats to come out aggressive tonight. The Schenectady Daily Gazette has more from practice.
  • It is no secret. Pat Dwyer was named captain because he leads by example. Now in his fourth year with the River Rats, Dwyer is arguably Albany's most valuable player. He serves as a role model for the rest of the team, giving everything he has on every shift. Dwyer is featured today in the Albany Times Union.
  • Rookie forward Drayson Bowman, who sat out the last three games with a chest injury, will not play tonight or this weekend. He will be sorely missed. Bad info!!! 
  • The injury woes of the Carolina Hurricanes continue. Goaltender Michael Leighton left last night's game against Montreal with a lower-body complication, likely a groin pull. It was Leighton's second start since Cam Ward was curbed with a laceration on his leg. Eric Staal, Scott Walker and Joni Pitkanen also remain sidelined. Carolina's next game is on Thursday. If Leighton is unable to dress, Justin Peters could be on the way up. 
  • Brandon Sutter and Bryan Rodney continue to shine in Raleigh. Sutter has five goals and three assists in 11 games. Rodney has two assists in 4 games. Both are skating extended minutes and getting time on the power play. Rodney was even included in the shootout line-up last night in Montreal. Read more about their stellar performances at the Raleigh News & Observer, Canes Country and Tracking the Storm.
  • Players on standby in the ECHL are stacking up impressive numbers. Jacob MicFlikier has an unbelievable 22 points (7 G, 15 A) in 10 games. Rob Hennigar has 21 points (7 G, 14 A) in 14 games. Goaltender Mike Morrison has a solid GAA of 2.79 and a SV% of .903 after 10 games. The way things are going, their services may soon be required in Albany. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

News & Notes

  • After missing 12 games with a broken wrist, alternate captain Brett Carson is back. With fellow defenseman Bryan Rodney recalled to Carolina, the timing could not have come sooner. The Troy Record catches up with the Albany blueliner. 
  • Coach Jeff Daniels says the struggles of the Carolina Hurricanes are not affecting the River Rats. If anything, the problems in Raleigh provide extra incentive for those hoping to crack the NHL line-up. The Albany Times Union has more.
  • With a busy weekend ahead of them, the Rats are looking to tighten their game and boost their position in the standings. To get things done, they'll need to stay focused and play with consistency. The Schenectady Daily Gazette has the story
  • Rookie forward Drayson Bowman is out with a chest injury that apparently occurred last Saturday against Adirondack. After being taken down from behind, Bowman slid hard into the boards and looked pretty shaken up. He returned to the ice later that night, but was absent Wednesday in Syracuse and is not expected to play this weekend. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tim Conboy placed on waivers

The Carolina Hurricanes have placed former River Rats' captain Tim Conboy on waivers. Conboy is on a one-way contract this season, but would be eligible for reassignment to Albany if he cleared. Tracking the Storm has more.

Pistilli already an off-ice presence in Albany

Matthew Pistilli
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Rookie forward Matthew Pistilli was heavily involved in community programs and humanitarian efforts during his junior career. Now a proud member of the River Rats, Pistilli is reaching out to the Capital District and is already adored at the local schools. AHL On the Beat has more.

News & Notes

  • Some say a two-goal lead is the hardest to keep. Look no further than last night's game against Syracuse for an example of why. Hockey is a sport based largely on momentum and perseverance. If a team is comfortable, their opponent is usually desperate. The best players and teams are those that play hard every shift of every game, no matter the situation or score. The River Rats have plenty of talent, but they are still struggling with consistency. The players, coaches and captains need to keep the bench energized at all times. Look for that to be the deciding factor as Albany heads into a busy weekend. 
  • The River Rats have a packed schedule ahead of them. Albany will play three games in three nights: Friday at home against Wilkes Barre/Scranton, Saturday at home against Norfolk, and Sunday in Springfield. The East Division remains extremely tight so these games are vital. Albany, Norfolk and Wilkes Barre/Scranton are all tied with 16 points each. Remember, the crossover rule applies to the Eastern Conference this year. If the season ended today, only three teams in the East Division would qualify for the playoffs. 
  • Rat-in-reserve Jacob MicFlikier continues to tear through the ECHL. The Florida Everblades' top-scorer was named Sher-wood Player of the Week for November 2-8. MicFlikier scored nine points in his first two games back from assignment in Albany. He landed a hat-trick and three assists on November 5. He has accumulated 17 points (7 G, 10 A) in just eight contests with the Blades. The Naples Daily News has more on everyone's favorite ECHL'er.
  • Forward Milan Gajic, who was assigned to the ECHL after attending training camp with the River Rats, suffered a lower-body injury on November 4. He was ranked second in scoring on the Everblades with eight points in nine games. He was placed on 21-day injured reserve and is walking with the assistance of crutches. The Naples Daily News keeps us up-to-date.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes have lost 13 games in a row. Veteran goaltender Manny Legace, who was signed after Cam Ward was injured, allowed four goals on 30 shots last night in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Forwards Stephane Yelle and Scott Walker both left the game with injuries. Tim Conboy was the only healthy scratch on the Canes' roster. Bryan Rodney, who was called up to replace an ill Joni Pitkanen, registered 21:29 of ice-time, the third-highest on the team. Rodney had an even plus/minus rating, skated on the power-play unit, and was not on the ice during any of the goals against. He was given a tripping penalty in the first period, but Carolina killed it off. 

Crunch rally over Rats, 4-3 in SO

Post-game coverage:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rodney called up

Defenseman Bryan Rodney was called up to the Carolina Hurricanes today, as Canes' D-man Joni Pitkanen has a fever and will not be able to play tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chatting with Zach Boychuk

Zach Boychuk
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Zach Boychuk recently stepped into the AHL Chat Room to answer some questions from the fans. Read the transcript here

River Rats weekly

The River Rats are ready for a "bloody" good week. The team's website has the regular weekly rundown.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend highlights

Video highlights from Friday and Saturday are now available on YouTube. Watch here and here.

Canes sign Manny Legace

With goaltender Cam Ward expected to miss significant time with a lacerated leg, the Carolina Hurricanes today signed veteran netminder Manny Legace to a two-way, one-year deal. 

That means Rats' starter Justin Peters will be sticking around, at least for now.

The Canes would rather bring in Legace than put all the weight on two goalies with limited experience. Justin Peters, along with Michael Leighton, both lack time in the NHL, whereas Legace is a battle-tested goalie with more than 15 years of professional play under his belt. 

Still, if Legace does not perform, Peters will be waiting on deck. 

Where Legace lands when Ward returns is anyone's guess. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Boychuk is back

Zach Boychuk is back with the Rats. With Carolina forward Ray Whitney expected to return from an upper-body injury on Wednesday, the Hurricanes this morning reassigned Boychuk to Albany. He was called up on November 5th and played two games with the big club, registering an assist and an even plus/minus rating.

Cam Ward injured (UPDATE)

Justin Peters will likely be getting a call from the boys in Raleigh. 

Netminder Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes was cut badly by a skate blade last night in a contest against the Columbus Bluejackets. The laceration required stitches and Ward was hospitalized overnight after losing a significant amount of blood.

Justin Peters will likely be recalled to back up Michael Leighton for the Hurricanes' next game on Wednesday.

As for Albany, Mike Murphy will take charge of the Rats' crease and Mike Morrison will likely be called up from the ECHL for backup. 

The Rats' next game is Wednesday at Syracuse. 

UPDATE: Cam Ward is expected to be out for three to four weeks. The Hurricanes are considering several options, including a trade or a new signing. Chip Alexander speculates that Carolina may pick up veteran goaltender Manny Legace, who is currently playing for the Chicago Wolves. 

Rats rise over Phantoms, 3-1

Post-game coverage:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Harrison ready to contribute

Jay Harrison
(Photo by jbk-ltd)

Defenseman Jay Harrison may have started the season in the NHL, but the veteran blueliner is looking forward to his time in Albany. He considers it an opportunity to demonstrate his skill and provide leadership to a young club. The Troy Record and the Schenectady Daily Gazette each have a story today on the latest addition to the team. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Boychuk called up

The Carolina Hurricanes last night lost another game and another two players. Forwards Ray Whitney and Tuomo Ruutu both suffered upper-body injuries in a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers. 

Zach Boychuk is headed to Raleigh to fill in. Chip Alexander breaks the news.

Rats blanked by Senators, 2-0

Post-game coverage:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Captain trying to right ship

Captain Pat Dwyer is determined to lead the Rats out of their recent slump. The Albany Times Union has the story. The Schenectady Daily Gazette has more

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jay Harrison assigned to Albany

As expected, veteran defenseman Jay Harrison has been assigned to the River Rats. Harrison will bring size, experience and toughness to Rats' defensive corps. The Rats' website has the news.

News & Notes

  • Forward Jacob MicFlikier has been reassigned to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. MicFlikier was called up to Albany on October 24th after Steven Goertzen suffered a concussion. Goertzen is now healthy. In three games with the River Rats, MicFlikier had a goal and a +2 rating. Expect him back at some point this season.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes have placed defenseman Jay Harrison on waivers. Harrison will likely clear waivers and be reassigned to Albany. He will hopefully provide some much-needed relief at the Rats' blue line. Harrison was filling in for Canes' D-man Tim Gleason, who is expected to return to action tomorrow night. 
  • The Carolina Hurricanes have won just two of 13 games. General Manager Jim Rutherford is preparing to make some major changes. Trades and call-ups could be on the horizon, especially if the Hurricanes keep losing. 
  • Carolina's top forward Eric Staal is expected to miss several games with an upper-body injury sustained over the weekend. He is listed as week-to-week. The Hurricanes have two extra players to insert in the line-up: Stephane Yelle and Tim Conboy. If the Canes are not satisfied with those options, well, you know the drill. 
  • The River Rats' weekly recap is available here
  • Watch the next installment of Murphy's Mailbag here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Seeking consistency

Stefan Chaput is checked by Springfield's Johan Motin
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

"Consistency is key." It is a common cliché phrase in sports, but it often rings true, especially for the River Rats at this particular juncture. 

After a strong start to the season, the Rats have fallen into a slump. Albany has just one win in the last six games. 

The Rats suffered two losses over the weekend and dropped to fourth place in the East Division with an overall record of 5-5-1.

Albany was defeated Friday by the Springfield Falcons in a shootout, 4-3, and beaten down the next night by the Hershey Bears, 4-1. In both games, the team looked slow, sluggish and out-of-sync. Every attempt to build momentum fell flat. 

Much of the Rats' offense depended on a strategy of dump-and-chase, but they were slow to enter the zone and were out-battled along the boards. Rarely did they come up with the puck. 

Miscommunication resulted in repeated offsides, unnecessary icings, and turnovers in every sector of the ice. The Rats were also caught off guard on line changes more than once. 

Defensively, Albany did a decent job of clogging the center of the ice, but they were slow to gain control of the puck, which allowed the opposition repeated break-out attempts. 

On several occasions, the Rats failed to cover traffic in front of the net. The defenders and centers were not keeping track of the open forwards as both Springfield and Hershey moved the puck down low. 

Some of the blueliners also need work handling the puck under pressure. There were far too many turnovers in the defensive zone. 

Some limited praise is still deserved. The team was not functioning as a whole, but extraordinary individual efforts by a small group of names kept them on life support.

Not enough can be said about captain Pat Dwyer. As usual, he forced the puck in the zone and created chances from all angles. He was also deadly on the penalty kill and now is a league-leader with two short-handed goals. Dwyer is a constant spark of light for the Rats.

The same goes for Drayson Bowman, whose fast legs, quick shot and extra effort helped generate numerous scoring chances in both weekend games. Bowman also showed more grit than usual. He refused to get pushed around after whistles. 

Props also go to Jerome Samson for showing extra energy when everyone else appeared to be half asleep. At times, Samson looked like he was putting on a stick-handling clinic. He, too, stepped up his physical game. 

Zach Boychuk continues to show off his talents and produce highlight reel quality goals. He scored another beauty against Springfield.

Matthew Pistilli was another standout. He played exceptionally well and scored two goals against the Falcons.

Nonetheless, the momentary outbursts of a few could not overcome the overall poor performance of the team.

The home crowd offered little help. Attendance at the Times Union Center continues to disappoint. There were only 2,422 people at Friday's game. Meanwhile, folks in Hershey were complaining Saturday about the "low" turnout of 6,802. 

The Rats will have a chance to bounce back with three big home games this week, including two against division rivals. Albany will face off against the Binghamton Senators on Wednesday, the Lowell Devils on Friday and the Adirondack Phantoms on Saturday. 

The River Rats have the skill and depth to be true competitors this season, but they need to balance intensity and intelligence. They must skate hard and stay focused, game-in and game-out.

Consistency is key. 

Goertzen returns; Rats have an extra

Now that energy forward Steven Goertzen has returned to action, the Rats actually have a spare player. The Albany Times Union has more.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Canes' update

The Carolina Hurricanes continue to struggle. With a 6-1 loss yesterday to Philadelphia and a 5-1 loss today against San Jose, the Canes' record now stands at 2-8-3. Carolina is one point away from occupying last place in the Eastern Conference. 

The team's line-up continues to shuffle. 

The Hurricanes today saw the return of Tuomo Ruutu, who just finished a three-game suspension, as well as Erik Cole, who suffered a fractured leg early in the season. Center Stephane Yelle, who was recently put through waivers, was scratched. 

Brandon Sutter, who was called up from Albany last weekend, replaced Yelle as the team's fourth-line center. Sutter scored the Hurricanes' only two goals this weekend. The chances of him coming back to the Rats are slim to none.

Eric Staal suffered an upper-body injury in the second period against San Jose. He did not return for the third. If Stall is unable to play in the Canes' next game on Wednesday, Stephane Yelle and former Albany captain Tim Conboy are available. But another call-up could always be in the works, especially with the team's recent poor performance. 

Tim Gleason is practicing in Raleigh and could return to action as early as this week. That would give the Canes an extra defenseman. Jay Harrison may or may not be sent down.

Bears claw Rats, 4-1

Post-game coverage: