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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Scouting the Albany River Rats

With 18 points thus far, the Albany River Rats have a record rivaled only by the hapless San Antonio Rampage, 13, Chicago Wolves, 15, and the Binghamton Senators, 17. Officially tied in last place for the Atlantic Division with the Providence Bruins, the Rats have played four more games than the bean town minor and are definitely the team to play because, it’s another in a series of Christmas gifts for the league, Albany River Rats, last in the Atlantic Division.

Head coach Robbie Ftorek is spending his second season behind the Albany bench, a place he knows well, as he coached there in the Calder winning season of 1995. He’s also coached the NHL Kings, the Boston Bruins and NJ Devils. He is backed by former goalie Chris Terreri in his first coaching assignment.

Coach Ftorek is reported to be trying to fix a broken development system, according to SLAM’s Patrick Williams. "We have a lot of ability. I definitely think there's some room for improvement. We've got a lot of young guys, so hopefully (soon) it will change,” captain Alex Brooks told Williams in October. Two months later and you wonder.

Aleksander Suglobov is leading the team in scoring with 18 points. Krisjanis Redlihs is the teams leading defense man with 11 points. Frank Doyle, who played most of last year in Idaho, is ranked 12th among AHL goalies with a 2.45 GAA and a .925 save percentage. His back is inadequately covered by a Finn, Ari Ahonen. His 4.16 GAA is ranked 39th of 40 AHL goalies. Ahonen, who was considered to be the number one goalie at the beginning of the year, has not stood up to the challenge. Earlier talk of his return to Finland is probably now wished for.

Cam Janssen with 84 Pims, David Clarkson 81, Aaron Voros 58, Alex Brooks 53, Ilkka Pikkarainen, 52 and David Hale also 52 penalty minutes, all have a shot at being considered official goons at year-end. Goons, of course being players with at least 200 penalty minutes.

Finally, the team has a 13.8 percent power play and an 85.9 percent penalty kill. The last not surprising as they have lots of opportunities to practice defending. The team, I use the phrase loosely here, has no shooters and only one goalie. Their goal seems to be reaching the top of the league for penalty minutes.

My prediction is another wash-out year for the Rats. That will be their sixth time with no post season. And that will be a new record for the AHL.


1 comment:

Michael said...

With all the talk that I hear that the Devils management drafts very very well, you'd think that the River Rats would be a really good team with plenty of depth.

Not so.

They really finished at the bottm of the barrel last year and it looks to be on pace to repeat that senario at 8-17 thus far.