The final sprint

By Kevin Zalaznik || AHL On The Beat Archive

The seven-month methodical journey through the American Hockey League schedule has turned into a sprint towards the finish line.

With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Devils are tied for 11th in the Eastern Conference, six points out of the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs. Albany will try and jumpstart its push tomorrow when the Hershey Bears, who currently occupy the final playoff position, arrive at Times Union Center at 7 pm.

“We just have to worry about each game individually and we have to get back to the way we can play and the way that we were playing,” said Phil DeSimone. “That just comes with focusing on the process more so than the result or how many points we need for this or that.”

Nearly six months with 64 games logged has left the Devils in a battle with nine other teams for the sixth, seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re in a grind here; we are,” said Cam Janssen. “I’ve been through this before in my career. There are ways to get out of it and everyone needs to be on the same page. We’ve had meetings. We’ve talked about what we need to do, what we need to change and it’s simple. It really is simple. Everyone needs to focus, be on the same page and work. We need to work.”

During those 64 contests, the Devils have proven to be a streaky team. They have won three-or-more games five times and have lost three-or-more outings six times, including the current six-game skid.

Despite the waves in the results column, the Devils believe their character and cohesion will carry them past the Apr. 21 regular-season deadline.

“Despite the injuries, despite the call ups, we really have a good group of guys in here,” DeSimone said. “Everyone can play and I think we have a really good team. I agree that we do have more to give and I think that’s why everyone is so frustrated and eager to get back on the winning side of things, because we really do have a good, solid group in here.”

“People always ask me, ‘how are the guys?’” Janssen said. “I’m like, ‘we have a great group of guys on this team.’ That’s hard to find, really. It’s hard to find a tight-knit team like we have and the teams that do win, they have good guys on the team, tight, everyone respects each other and everybody will bleed for one another.

“I told the guys that we need to take advantage of having such a tight team. It just helps. It helps when you are going through the playoffs; it helps when you need to get a win streak going. We have the guys to do it, so we need to put it together.”

After Friday’s matchup, the team hosts Portland Saturday before traveling to Springfield next Tuesday. Seven of the team’s 10 games in April will be at Times Union Center.