It's official: New Jersey Devils move AHL afilliate back to Albany

With the Albany River Rats leaving for Charlotte, NC, the New Jersey Devils have formally been approved to move their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils, to Albany for the 2010-2011 season. The River Rats had been the Devils affiliate in the AHL from 1993 to 2006, before New Jersey decided to switch the affiliation over to the Lowell Lock Monsters in 2006.

It wasn’t exactly the friendliest departure either, as relations between the fans and the team had soured in the latter stages of the Devils’ affiliation with the River Rats.

Yet with the River Rats headed to Charlotte, and the lease with the arena expiring in Lowell, the Devils felt it was time to give it another shot in an area that should be a great town for minor league hockey. This new team will be called the Albany Devils, completely with a wholly generic AHL logo. Here’s the press release:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO
David
Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has
approved the relocation of the franchise owned by the New Jersey Devils
from Lowell, Mass., to Albany, N.Y., to begin play there this fall.

The Albany Devils will mark the return of New Jersey’s affiliate to New
York’s capital region and the Times Union Center. The Devils were the
parent club of the AHL’s Albany River Rats for 13 years from 1993-2006,
winning four division championships and the Calder Cup in 1995, the
same season the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup.

The River Rats played a total of 17 seasons in Albany before they were
sold and relocated to Charlotte, N.C., to begin there in 2010-11.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top
development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85
percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates,
and for the ninth year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended
AHL games across North America during the 2009-10 season. The 2010
Calder Cup Finals are underway, with the Hershey Bears and the Texas
Stars tied at two wins apiece in their battle for the AHL’s 74th
championship. Game 5 is Friday night.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Are Thornton and Marleau done in San Jose?

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    –After reaching the Stanley Cup Final last year, the San Jose Sharks lasted just one round in 2017. With both Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st, could their time in San Jose be over? We know that Logan Couture wants both players to come back, but would that be the right decision? Allowing them to leave could thrust young players into roles they’re not ready for, but keeping them around and icing a similar team could lead to another first-round exit. (Mercury News)

    –The Philadelphia Flyers took a step back this season, as they failed to make the playoffs, but at least the future appears to be bright. They’ve managed to stockpile quality prospects and their farm team finished with the second best record in the AHL. (Philly.com)

    –Former NHLer Brandon Prust spent a couple of months hanging around the Leafs earlier this season, but he never ended up getting a contract so he went off to Germany. Prust said the experience was great, but he was a little frustrated that Toronto decided to acquire players like Eric Fehr and Brian Boyle instead of giving him a shot. “I feel I belonged there and I could have helped that team; but what are you going to do? That’s hockey. I felt they really needed a guy like me; and I know I could have helped them. Then they go and make trades for players similar to me. It’s tough.” (Yahoo)

    –Justin Bieber made an appearance at the ACC last night. He was wearing a custom Leafs jersey, and he seemed to be pretty into it. Unfortunately for Biebs, his team couldn’t extend the series to seven games. (BarDown)

    –The Toronto Maple Leafs pushed the Washington Capitals as much as they could, but they just ran out of steam in Game 6. Check out the highlights from the Caps’ 2-1 OT win by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    Braden Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky and Carey Price were named finalists for the Vezina Trophy. The Hockey News makes a case for each of the three goaltenders, but Bobrovsky’s gotta be considered the favorite.  Jared Clinton writes: “It’s not just Bobrovsky’s base numbers that are impressive, either. His underlying numbers makes his case further. The only goaltending with 1,000-plus minutes at 5-on-5 to post a better SP than Bobrovsky’s .939 mark was Craig Anderson.” (The Hockey News)

    –It sounds like Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is pretty confident that Auston Matthews is going to walk away with the Calder Trophy this year:

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round schedule

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    Time to get your ducks in a row (Anaheim or otherwise), as the second-round schedule has been released.

    As you can see, the West series begin on Wednesday while the East ones kick into gear on Thursday. Read up on the matchups here.

    For the sixth consecutive year, every Stanley Cup playoff game will be presented nationally across the platforms of NBC Sports Group and select NBCUniversal networks.

    (Games listed by date, start time, teams and network.)

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Washington vs. #2 Pittsburgh Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Monday, May 1 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD
    *Monday, May 8 TBD Washington at Pittsburgh TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #2 Ottawa vs. #4 NY Rangers Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 3 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Thursday, May 4 7:30 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Ottawa at NY Rangers TBD
    *Thursday, May 11 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Anaheim vs. #2 Edmonton Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 7 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 10 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD Anaheim at Edmonton TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #3 St. Louis vs. #4 Nashville Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 3 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD St. Louis at Nashville TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD

    Starting time and national broadcast information for games listed TBD will be announced when available.

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second-round matchups

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    Want to know when and how to watch each game? Check out the second-round schedule here.

    Eastern Conference

    Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Washington really had to sweat it against Toronto, but while the journey took more twists and turns than expected, both juggernauts ended up in a position to justify their statuses as favorites.

    During the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby runs for the franchises, the Penguins won both second-round series (first in 2009 and then last year). In each case, Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup.

    Will the Capitals finally break through in what might be their best chance ever? There isn’t a better way for them to truly prove their mettle than to do so against a Penguins team that looks dangerous, even with key injuries to consider.

    Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

    Both teams beat higher seeds in the first round, surprising at least some. There are some fun storylines here, from a clash of two star Swedes (Erik Karlsson vs. Henrik Lundqvist) to fun trade talk involving Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard.

    On paper, these teams aren’t as linked as the other East series, but playoff glory can make franchises become hated rivals in little time.

    Western Conference

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

    So much orange. So many goals?

    With the Blackhawks, Kings, Wild and Sharks out, the Ducks get home-ice in the West and probably rank as the most familiar contender in a conference that seems heavy on “new blood.” Then again, they’re still driven by a red-hot Ryan Getzlaf, but this isn’t the same Anaheim squad as the last time they made a longer run.

    Speaking of new blood, it’s unavoidable to describe the Oilers any other way. Edmonton hopes to keep its first playoff run in more than a decade going, and this series might actually be a better showcase for Connor McDavid than those tighter games vs. the Sharks.

    St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

    Is there a matchup of goalies on hotter streaks right now than Jake Allen vs. Pekka Rinne? These “underdogs” held the top teams in the Central Division to one playoff victory combined.

    While there are plenty of carryover characters from previous postseason editions of the Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen) and the Predators (Roman Josi), there’s also a new Blues coach in Mike Yeo and newly featured Nashville pieces such as P.K. Subban.

    Which team will go deeper than many outside of their locker room expected? We’ll find out.

    Capitals close out Maple Leafs after one last OT classic

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t grab the torch from the Washington Capitals in this series, but they put up a tremendous struggle.

    Auston Matthews continued to make an impression with a goal in his fourth consecutive game, yet it wasn’t enough to send this scintillating series to a Game 7. Instead, Marcus Johansson collected tying and game-winning goals, leading Washington to a 2-1 OT win to take the series 4-2.

    Here is video of the tally that ended Toronto’s season:

    While the Capitals taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins is “expected,” the path to get there wasn’t as many drew it up. Toronto gave Washington all it can handle in a series that tied a record with five trips beyond regulation.

    The Maple Leafs can take heart in pushing the play for large spans of the series, although there have also been spans where it felt like the Caps found that extra gear.

    Toronto fans who’ve been longing for a return to playoff glory must be experiencing mixed feelings. This young bunch achieved more than just about anyone expected, particularly in this series against the Presidents’ Trophy winners. That might be why it burns, though; Buds fans deal with the bitter feeling of so close.

    Then again, the Capitals know all about that. They hope to avoid repeating such history in this huge opportunity. Perhaps facing a far tougher-than-expected challenge to start things off might be a blessing in disguise?