Thursday, April 15, 2010

River Rats' balance paying off

The Albany River Rats hope their team balance carries them far this postseason.
So far, its paid dividends with their 4-3 victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday night in the opening game of their East Division semifinal series.
With a wave of reinforcements arriving from the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week, Albany coach Jeff Daniels had plenty of options to mull over and drew up an intriguing lineup, with plenty of talent sprinkled through on each line.
“That’s been kind of our goal all year to have four lines that can play and kind of wear teams down and that’s really no different from the Wilkes-Barre’s set up, they have four lines that can play,” Daniels said after Thursday’s practice. “We try to balance it where we have some scoring and some guys who can do the dirty and gritty work. Now it’s just a matter of finding some chemistry.”
One of the most notable changes was moving center Mike Angelidis the checking line to the top scoring line with Jerome Samson and Zach Boychuk.
Ang is a guy who can do the dirty work,” Daniels said. “He’s been a guy who has been invaluable for us in that role, but he’s also scored some big goals for us.”
Forward Oskar Osala anchored a line with Jiri Tlusty and Jacob Micflikier, who responded with a goal and an assist against the Penguins.
Rookie Drayson Bowman returned from Carolina and skated with Nicolas Blanchard and rookie Zac Dalpe.
“If they’re doing a good job on Sammy, it doesn’t mean we’re not going to score goals,” Daniels said. “We have other guys, like we saw (Wednesday) night, Dodge scored two goals and Flicks really contributed for us.
“That’s the mindset of being well-balanced, in case they shut down one line, hopefully the other lines can pick it up.”
The only line which remained intact from the regular season — Dodge, Chris Terry and Steven Goertzen — stood out in Game 1, combining for five points, including two goals.
“They’ve been a great line for us all year,” Daniels said. “We put a lot of responsibility on those three guys both defensively and offensively and last night it showed.”
Albany will likely stay with these line combinations for tonight in Game 2.
“That’s the plan right now,” Daniels said.
The series then shifts to Wilkes-Barre for Game 3 on Sunday and Game 4 on Monday.


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