It's been suggested, throughout history, that the "apple doesn't fall far from the tree." For example, my dad has a wealth of hockey knowledge that he has passed down to my sisters and I, and us to our offspring (well, my sisters to their offspring, and me to anyone who will listen. I, blessedly, have no children.) As it turns out, sometimes that apple theory applies to ACTUAL hockey, too. The Amerks did some things this weekend. They weren't all good, kind of like the Sabres. Unlike the Sabres, however, they weren't all (totally) bad.
"I can see your white-knuckled hand from holdin' on and, lately, I've been wonderin' if we rely on the sure thing ..." (Bronze Radio Return, Everything Moves)
The Amerks faced the Adirondack Flames in a split decision home-and-home series this weekend. Though Friday's score suggested a 4-1 Amerks win, all signs point to Andrey Makarov being Rochester's only good player on the ice. Said coach Chadd Cassidy, "Thankfully, our goaltender was our best player." Despite the score, and a couple of pretty goals from the Mikhail Grigorenko/Joel Armia pairing (which I am a particularly big fan of), the Amerks looked ... sad on Friday. Which didn't bode well going into their game Saturday.
The Flames aren't the strongest team in the AHL. But they are physical and, sometimes, that translates in a big way. They're hungry. They want to win, and they did, in a big way. They put five goals past starter Nathan Lieuwen, and two more past Makarov. Fun fact: five of the seven goals scored by Adirondack were first goals of the season! Oh, that's not fun? It must be fun for someone. Probably for the guys who scored them, at least. Rochester did manage three goals, but three isn't a lot up against seven.
I suppose you're allowed some nights when things just don't work, but this makes me nervous. I will preface what I'm about to say with this: I didn't see these games. I had a family emergency Friday night and I wasn't in Glens Falls Saturday. But I see a theme already and it makes me worry about what may come. Cassidy said it two weeks ago, after back to back games: they were tired. Were these Amerks tired? I don't know. But I read the tweets, and the other recaps and I watched the news, and this is a league of back to back games. I don't buy "tired," and neither should anyone else who calls themselves an AHL fan ... or a hockey fan, for that matter.
We're sold the ideal that hockey players are elite. That they're special. They're the best of the best. No other athlete can touch them. So play like it. You won a 4-1 game because your back up goaltender is routinely known to stand on his head - he saved your season last year and, some can reasonably argue, handed you the playoffs. You lost to a team with one prior win 7-3. Get your acts together, guys. This is embarrassing. You have a 4-2-0-0 record going into Wednesday's matchup against Hamilton at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. But fix this. I don't expect you to win every night. But I expect you to show up. So hey: show up on Wednesday.
Note: This piece was written before last night's Amerks game at the FNC, which they won 3-2. Read all about it here.