Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gameday preview

The River Rats are featured today in each of the three major local newspapers, the Albany Times Union, the Troy Record and the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Weekly recap

The weekly summary is up at the River Rats' website.

Rivalry renewed?

Bill Cain at the Schenectady Daily Gazette previews the next two games of the Northway rivalry. 

Rodney honored as all-star

Defenseman Bryan Rodney has been selected as the River Rats' sole representative for the AHL Canadian All-Star team. The Rats' website has the full roster

The all-star game is scheduled for January 19 in Portland. The PlanetUSA roster will be announced tomorrow. 

Rodney out at least a week

Defenseman Bryan Rodney, who sustained a shoulder injury Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, will be sidelined for at least a week. The Albany Times Union has the story, along with some notes from yesterday's practice. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rats fall to Pens again, 3-2

Post-game coverage:

Pistilli sent down

The River Rats yesterday reassigned forward Matthew Pistilli to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

Pistilli, an undrafted rookie signed by Carolina during the offseason, has registered three goals and three assists in 25 games with Albany this year.

Pistilli performed admirably with the River Rats, skating in a checking role and earning a plus-2 rating. 

Pistilli was edged out of the line-up by the return of forwards Drayson Bowman, Jiri Tlusty and Michael Ryan. 

Bowman was out with a knee injury, Tlusty was dealing with immigration issues, and Ryan was sidelined with a concussion. 

Pistilli, who rejoins Florida for the second time this season, has a goal in five games with the Blades this year. 

Pistilli has been commended for his community efforts in the Capital District. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rats frozen by Penguins, 2-1

Post-game coverage:

Ryan needed lots of patience

Michael Ryan talks with Bill Cain at the Schenectady Daily Gazette about his long wait on the sidelines.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Boychuk on the right path

Zach Boychuk is putting together quite the highlight reel in his first professional season.

In Syracuse on Saturday, the 20-year-old rookie forward took a pass from Jerome Samson, weaved the puck between the legs of a Crunch defender, cut across the goal mouth and buried it on the short side. 

The night before in Lowell, Boychuk went end-to-end, blew past two defenders, and out-maneuvered the sprawling Devils' netminder for another beauty

Against Providence the previous week, the youngster flew down the left wing and unleashed a shot so fast and accurate most on the arena never even saw it hit the top corner of the net. 

Fast hands, a deadly release, tremendous acceleration, creativity with the puck, and continuous determination on the forecheck are just some of the traits that make Boychuk the natural-born goal-scorer and playmaker the Hurricanes were hoping for when they selected him in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. 

Coming off a spectacular junior career, Boychuk is adapting quickly to the professional level. 

Boychuk's offensive talents were never really in doubt, but the limitations of his size and defensive play had some people questioning his ability to make the transition. 

Zach Boychuk
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Now, nearly three months into the season, Boychuk has proven to be one of the top rookies in the league, tallying 20 points (9 G, 11 A) in 30 games, not to mention an assist in two games with the Hurricanes during a call-up in November. 

Boychuk's small stature rarely slows him down, as the shifty forward easily avoids and spins off checks. He has been lined up a few times, but absorbed the hits well and showed no signs of weakness. 

Boychuk has even rattled the glass with a few checks of his own.

Knowing when and where to take chances and how to recover when things go wrong is an essential part of the game, one that Boychuk is picking up fast. 

Boychuk held a team-low minus-9 rating after his first 22 games, underscoring a lack of defensive awareness. 

Lately, however, Boychuk has demonstrated a new level of responsibility in his own end, staying aware defensively while remaining aggressive offensively. 

In Boychuk's last eight contests, he has a plus-7 rating. He has not registered a negative game in all of December. 

Boychuk is equipped with all the tools of an elite player. He still requires some slight fine-tuning, but is developing well at the AHL level and is certainly in the running for a full-time NHL slot by next season. 

For now, fans in Albany have a future star to watch. Boychuk is on the path to a long and prosperous career.

Young Canes keep earning ice time

Defenseman Brett Carson is the centerpiece of a story published today in the Raleigh News & Observer

Peters' play quite the present

Goaltender Justin Peters is stealing headlines at the NHL's website. 

Harrison reassigned

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned defenseman Jay Harrison to the Albany River Rats. 

Harrison returns to Albany having picked up two assists in an eight-game stretch with the Canes. The veteran stay-at-home D-man was recalled on December 6 and performed well during his time with the big club.

Harrison started the year with Carolina and has now skated in 18 NHL contests this season, registering a goal and four assists. 

In 15 games with Albany, Harrison has a goal, seven assists and a plus-4 rating. 

Defenseman Brett Carson and forward Pat Dwyer remain with the Hurricanes. 

Canes' blueliner Aaron Ward, who cleared waivers on December 15, is still on the chopping block. If Ward is traded or dumped on re-entry waivers, Brett Carson would likely take his place. 

Carolina defenseman Joe Corvo, who suffered a serious laceration on November 30, is expected to be sidelined for at least another two months. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekly summary

The weekly review is up on the River Rats' website

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hockey's Future update

Cory Lavalette at Hockey's Future reviews some of Albany's notable prospects and their performance so far this season. 

Rodney back in town, Reid reassigned

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned defenseman Bryan Rodney to the River Rats, while Albany sent down blue-liner Elgin Reid to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. 

Rodney returns to Albany after earning three assists in three games with Carolina. He was recalled for the fourth time this season on December 15 and skated just last night in the Canes' 3-2 victory over the Panthers. 

In 10 NHL games this season, Rodney has five assists, including four on the powerplay. 

With the River Rats this year, Rodney has two goals and seven assists in 20 games.

Elgin Reid heads back to the Everblades after appearing in the first two AHL games of his career over the weekend. The 21-year-old notched his first American league point last night in Syracuse, assisting a tally by Stefan Chaput. 

Reid has three goals and five assists in 19 games with the Blades this season. 

Rats rip Crunch, 5-2

Post-game coverage:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ryan, Reid assigned to Albany

The Carolina Hurricanes today activated forward Michael Ryan and assigned him to the River Rats, while Albany called up defenseman Elgin Reid from the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. 

Ryan, who has been practicing with the Rats since October, has not played since suffering a concussion during an NHL preseason contest in September.

According to the Rats' website, Ryan will skate for Albany tonight in Lowell, although coach Jeff Daniels said earlier this week that Ryan would not play until next Saturday. 

Ryan has appeared in 261 career AHL games, scoring 85 goals and 84 assists. The 29-year-old vet has a decent share of NHL experience, notching seven goals and eight assists in 83 big league contests. 

Despite skating in just 40 AHL games last season, Ryan led the River Rats with 25 goals. He totaled 42 points (25 G, 17 A) with Albany and landed an additional two assists in 18 NHL contests with Carolina. 

Second-year pro Elgin Reid will make his AHL debut tonight with the River Rats on the road in Lowell. 

The 21-year-old blue-liner, who signed a two-way AHL/ECHL deal over the summer, appeared at the Traverse City prospects tournament in September, attended training camp with Carolina, and skated with Albany during the preseason. 

Reid has three goals and five assists in 19 games with the Everblades this year. He has appeared in a total of 75 ECHL contests, accumulating 20 goals and 30 assists. 

McBain a big contributor on blue line

Rookie defenseman Jamie McBain talks with Chris Fitz Gerald at the Troy Record

Michael Ryan ready to play

After missing more than two months due to a preseason concussion, forward Michael Ryan is ready for game action. 

The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday placed Ryan on waivers, meaning team doctors have cleared him to play.

Coach Jeff Daniels said last week he hoped to bring Ryan into the fold for tonight's game in Lowell, but nows says he will wait until next weekend. 

Injured during an NHL exhibition game in September, Ryan has been practicing with the River Rats since October, but is still technically with the Hurricanes, as league rules prevent injured players from being reassigned. 

If Ryan clears waivers, he will be eligible for official reassignment today at noon. 

Ryan, along with injured forward Drayson Bowman, plan on returning December 26 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Both are taking an extra week of rest as a precautionary measure. 

Last season Ryan skated in 40 games with the Rats, scoring 25 goals and 17 assists for 42 points. He also played 18 games with the Canes, landing two assists. 

Ryan joined the organization last October and re-signed with Carolina this summer on a one-year, two-way deal. He spent the previous five seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans, skating in a total of 261 AHL and 83 NHL games.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dwyer, Rodney recalled

Pat Dwyer, Bryan Rodney
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

The Carolina Hurricanes today recalled forward Pat Dwyer and defenseman Bryan Rodney from the Albany River Rats. 

Hurricanes' forwards Erik Cole and Chad LaRose remain on injured reserve and Sergei Samsonov is now listed as day-to-day with a lower-body complication. 

Defenseman Joe Corvo, who is out with a severed achilles tendon, is now accompanied on the sidelines by blueliners Niclas Wallin, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, and Tim Gleason, who took a puck in the face Friday night in Washington. 

Dwyer and Rodney join Brett Carson and Jay Harrison, both of whom were recalled from Albany last Sunday, as well as center Brandon Sutter, who earned a spot on the NHL roster earlier this season. 

This is the third call-up of the year for Dwyer, who just returned to Albany on Sunday after playing for Carolina the previous two nights. In eight total contests with the Canes this season, Dwyer averaged 11:58 of ice-time and performed admirably on the penalty killing unit. 

Rodney, entering his fourth NHL stint of the year, notched two assists and averaged 18:27 of ice-time in seven games during his previous assignments. He was applauded for moving the puck well and holding down the point on the power play.

The call-up of Rodney leaves the River Rats with just five defenseman.

Leighton claimed by Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers today claimed goaltender Michael Leighton off re-entry waivers. Tracking the Storm has the story.

News & Notes

  • Seven straight wins by the River Rats has earned the team some extra coverage at the AHL's website
  • The latest installment of Murphy's Mailbag is up on YouTube
  • The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday placed defenseman Aaron Ward on waivers and he cleared today at noon. Read more at Tracking the Storm.
  • Call-ups could be in the works. The Hurricanes are short two players with a game tomorrow night. Carolina has just five healthy blueliners, including Brett Carson and Jay Harrison, who were recently recalled from Albany to replace injured D-men Niclas Wallin and Joe Corvo. Tim Gleason, who was hit in the face with a shot Friday night, is listed as day-to-day. The team is also down one forward after returning Pat Dwyer and Jiri Tlusty to the River Rats on Sunday. According to Tracking the Storm, Dwyer will likely be headed back up. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dwyer, Tlusty reassigned

Captain Pat Dwyer and newly acquired forward Jiri Tlusty are back with the Rats. Tracking the Storm has the news

Rats beat Bruins, 3-1

Post-game coverage:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Leighton returns

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned former Rats' netminder Michael Leighton to his old stomping grounds here in Albany.  

Leighton rejoins the River Rats after spending one and one-third seasons as a back-up for Cam Ward in Carolina. 

In 2007-08, Leighton led an underperforming Albany squad to the playoffs, earned first-team all-star honors, and was named AHL goalie of the year. He led the league with a 2.10 goals-against average and was tied for second with a save percentage of .931. 

Leighton played 19 games with the Hurricanes last season, registering a 2.92 GAA and .901 SV%. 

This season Leighton was given only one start before Cam Ward was injured with a severe laceration. Manny Legace was signed immediately after the injury and was picked to start the Canes' next two games. 

Leighton was handed the two starts after, but pulled his groin midway through the second game. Upon his recovery, Leighton started two more contests and was then placed on waivers.

Leighton appeared in a total of seven contests with the Canes this season, recording a 4.29 GAA and .850 SV%. 

The River Rats, now with three goaltenders, may reassign Mike Murphy to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, where the rookie netminder would likely be given starting duties.

UPDATE: Leighton will be placed on re-entry waivers today (12/13). 

Rats shut out Hershey, 3-0

Post-game coverage:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dwyer, Tlusty recalled

The Carolina Hurricanes today recalled Rats' captain Pat Dwyer and newly acquired forward Jiri Tlusty, while Albany called up center Harrison Reed and winger Matthew Pistilli. 

Canes' forwards Chad LaRose and Erik Cole were both placed on injured reserve today. LaRose is expected to miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury and Cole will be out for two to three weeks with an upper-body condition.

Dwyer, who is tied for the lead in goals scored for Albany, will join the Canes for his second NHL stint of the season. Dwyer played six games with Carolina in late November, averaging 10:53 of ice-time and filling in on the penalty killing unit. 

In 22 games with Albany this season, Dwyer, arguably the AHL club's most valuable player, has 11 goals, 12 assists and a plus-1 rating.

Jiri Tlusty, who was acquired by the Canes in a trade on December 3, heads to Carolina after just one game of action with the River Rats. 

Tlusty was mostly a non-factor in his first contest with the organization. He demonstrated exceptional skating ability, but was still adjusting to the new team and system. 

Tlusty heads into Carolina with 74 games of NHL experience under his belt. He holds ten goals and ten assists during his time in the big league. 

Harrison Reed reunites with the Rats after a rock-solid eight-game stretch in the ECHL. Reed, who was reassigned to the Florida Everblades on November 24, earned eight goals, five assists and was named ECHL player of the week for November 23-29. 

Prior to joining the Blades, Reed skated in 19 games with Albany, registering two assists and a plus-1 rating. 

Rookie forward Matthew Pistilli, who was reassigned to Florida on December 3, was held scoreless in three games with the Everblades. 

In 21 games with the Rats this season, Pistilli has three goals, two assists and a plus-2 rating.

Chaput continues break out

Stefan Chaput
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)

Chris Fitz Gerald at the Troy Record chats with center Stafan Chaput, who is continuing the break out season he never had a chance to finish last year. 

Tlusty faced hurdles en route to Albany

Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times Union talks with forward Jiri Tlusty about his journey to the Capital District. 

Rats taking nothing for granted

The River Rats may have four consecutive wins under their belt, but the team is taking nothing for granted. Coach Jeff Daniels, captain Pat Dwyer and goaltender Justin Peters talk with Bill Cain at the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Catching up with coach Daniels

Cory Lavalette at Canes Country catches up with Rats' coach Jeff Daniels. 

Ryan, Bowman on the way

Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times Union has the latest on injured forwards Michael Ryan and Drayson Bowman. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rats weekly

The weekly rundown is up at the Rats' website

Monday, December 7, 2009

Michael Leighton put on waivers

The Carolina Hurricanes today placed back-up goaltender Michael Leighton on waivers. 

Leighton, a former starter for the Rats, could be snatched up by another team at half price or reassigned to Albany should he go unclaimed. 

The Hurricanes signed veteran goalie Manny Legace earlier in the season after Cam Ward was injured. With Ward expected to return December 9, the Canes have a surplus of netminders.

Legace was favored over Leighton from the start and the vet outperformed the younger goaltender in the handful of games they split.

Leighton, 28, in the final year of his contract with Carolina, was hoping to find a starting job in the NHL next season, but the chances of that happening now are slim to none. 

In seven games with the Hurricanes this season, Leighton has a less than impressive 4.28 GAA and a .850 SV%. 

In 19 NHL games last season Leighton registered a decent 2.92 GAA and a .901 SV%. 

With the River Rats in 2007-08, Leighton recorded seven shutouts, a 2.10 GAA and a .931 SV% after 58 games.

If Leighton is reassigned to Albany, he would likely share time or serve as a back-up to Justin Peters, while rookie Mike Murphy could be sent to the ECHL for extra playing time.

UPDATE: Leighton cleared waivers today (12/8) at noon.

Rats hold strong against Pens, 4-1

Mike Angelidis, Justin Peters
(Photo by Jennifer Bock)
Post-game coverage:

Carson called up

Defenseman Brett Carson, alternate captain of the Albany River Rats, was recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes shortly before Sunday's contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Carson impressed the NHL coaches during the Canes' training camp in September, but was sidelined early in the season with a broken wrist. His performance in Albany, both before and after the injury, has been nearly flawless.

Carson has developed tremendously over the past year and provides a unique combination of offensive and defensive awareness, putting him in the running for a permanent spot in the NHL, either this year of the next. 

In 14 games with the Rats this season, Carson has three goals, eight assists and a plus-4 rating. 

The dependable blueliner is a core member of the AHL squad and will be sorely missed.
Carson joins Jay Harrison, who was recalled to Carolina earlier on Sunday. 

Hurricanes' defenseman Joe Corvo was sidelined with a severe laceration to his leg and achilles tendon on November 30th.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Harrison recalled, Rodney reassigned

The Carolina Hurricanes today recalled defenseman Jay Harrison and reassigned Bryan Rodney to the River Rats. 

Rodney was called up to Carolina for the third time this season on December 4th. He skated in one game and registered 17:24 of ice-time. Rodney will return to Albany, where he has a goal and five assists in 15 games thus far this season. 

Jay Harrison, who started the year with the Canes, has a goal, seven assists and a plus-4 rating in 15 contests with Albany this season. Harrison will rejoin Carolina, where he accumulated a goal, two assists and 27 penalty minutes in 10 games prior to be reassigned on November 3rd.

With defenseman Joe Corvo on injured reserve, the Canes will need a substitute for the next two to three months. Rodney offers an offensive, puck-moving style, whereas Harrison is more of a stay-at-home D-man. Brett Carson, who falls somewhere in the middle, will likely earn the next audition. 

Rats blast Phantoms, 4-1

Post-game coverage:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

News & Notes

  • Pete Dougherty at the Albany Times Union catches up with injured defenseman Casey Borer, who recently returned to Albany and started skating for the first time since having neck surgery in September. 
  • Forward Rob Hennigar, who was recently recalled from the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, chats with Chris Fitz Gerald at the Troy Record about his new role as a member of the Albany River Rats. 
  • Goaltender Justin Peters talks with Bill Cain of the Schenectady Daily Gazette about his time with the Canes and his desire to stay focused and prepared for any and all opportunities.  
  • Center Harrison Reed, who was reassigned to the Florida Everblades on November 24, earned ECHL player of the week honors after scoring seven goals and five assists in four games with the Blades.
  • Hurricanes' General Manager Jim Rutherford has expressed interest in "transitioning" his team. "If we could [move contracts out], we would probably move a handful of guys out today and move the younger guys in, even if they weren't ready," Rutherford told Tracking the Storm. The process is easier said than done. 
  • Hurricanes' goaltender Cam Ward, who was cut by a skate blade on November 7, returned to practice this week and is hoping to play in net against New Jersey on December 9th. Barring any more injuries, the Canes will soon have three healthy netminders. Veteran goalie Manny Legace, who was signed to a two-way deal after Ward went down, could be reassigned to Albany. 
  • Cory Lavalette at Canes Country has a bit more on the latest addition to the Rats' squad, Jiri Tlusty.
  • Who is the funniest River Rat? Watch the latest installment of Murphy's Mailbag and find out. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jiri Tlusty to join Rats

The Carolina Hurricanes today acquired forward Jiri Tlusty from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the rights to 2009 first-round draft pick Philippe Paradis.

Tlusty (pronounced "To-loo-stee") will join the Albany River Rats, while Paradis, 18, remains in juniors with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. 

Tlusty, a six-foot-tall 209-pound goal-scorer and playmaker from the Czech Republic, was a first-round pick by the Leafs in 2006. The 21-year-old has skated in 74 NHL contests, scoring 10 goals and 10 assists. 

In 130 regular season and playoff games with the Toronto Marlies, Tlusty netted 45 goals and accumulated 70 assists for 116 points. Tlusty tallied 66 points (25 G, 41 A) in 66 games last season with the Marlies and has 15 points (8 G, 7 A) in 19 games so far this year. 

Highlights of Tlusty's five-goal game against the Syracuse Crunch on February 18, 2009.

"They're two different types of players," said Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford, referring to Paradis and Tlusty. "We need to score more goals and we need to have skill. In our opinion, Philippe is more along the lines of a power forward and Jiri is more skilled where we project him being able to put up points in our top six."

"This trade gives us an opportunity to pick up a young, skilled forward who is further along in the development phase," Rutherford said. "I'm dealing with trying to put a player in our lineup by the start of next season that's going to be able to help produce points."

Read more at Tracking the Storm.

Micflikier swapped with Pistilli

The River Rats today recalled forward Jacob Micflikier from the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and reassigned forward Matthew Pistilli. 

Micflikier has three goals in five games with Albany this season and is the ECHL's top scorer with 32 points (9 G, 23 A) in 16 games. He was recently named ECHL player of the month for November. 

Matthew Pistilli has three goals, two assists and a +2 rating in 21 games with the Rats this season. The undrafted rookie forward, signed during the offseason by the Carolina Hurricanes, has been heavily involved in humanitarian efforts around the Albany area.

Bryan Rodney recalled, again

Defenseman Bryan Rodney today was recalled by the Carolina Hurricanes to fill the void created by the injury to Canes' D-man Joe Corvo.

Corvo, who has averaged more ice-time than any another other Hurricane, suffered a serious laceration on his achilles tendon on Monday night during a contest against the Washington Captials. He underwent surgery and is expected to miss two to three months.

This is Rodney's third call-up of the season. The others were short-lived, but this one may last a while.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Canes lose Corvo for 2-3 months

Defenseman Joe Corvo of the Carolina Hurricanes is expected to miss two to three months after suffering a serious laceration on the back of his leg last night in Raleigh. 

General Manager Jim Rutherford said the team will likely call up either Brett Carson, Jay Harrison or Bryan Rodney as a replacement.

Corvo has been averaging over 25 minutes of ice-time, more than any other player on the Canes' roster.

Dwyer reassigned

The Carolina Hurricanes today reassigned Pat Dwyer to the River Rats. 

Albany's top goal-scorer and respected captain was recalled on November 19 after a string of injuries left the Canes without a complete line-up.

Dwyer played six games with Carolina, averaging 10:53 of ice-time and filling in on the penalty killing unit. 

Dwyer nearly scored on November 28, but the net was knocked off a fraction of a second before he put the puck over the line.