The Amerks went into the weekend 5-2. That's pretty good, all things considered. It could be better, but it could be a lot worse (ahem, Iowa Wild). The Amerks exited the weekend ... well, they ended a three game stretch including Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday, with a 6-4-0-0 record, including a five-goal loss yesterday. Wake. Up. Guys.
"It's chaos that defies imagination." (Panic Sation, Muse)
Things started off great. Andrey Makarov pitched (is that the right word? Pitched? I have baseball on the brain, sorry) the first shutout of his professional hockey career with a 3-0 performance against the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night. According to everything I read on the game, Makarov was ... underwhelmed with the fanfare surrounding the shutout. He was excited, sure, just more excited that the Amerks won. You know - excited. In that Eastern European way. Excited. Joel Armia, Jerome Leduc, and Phil Varone had the Amerks goals against Syracuse. With Makarov stopping 38 shots, he continues to make his bid for more ice time and less time on the pine, despite what I might say in the rest of this piece.
It's probably a good thing that Makarov, and the rest of the Amerks and their coaching staff, were excited on Friday, because the rest of the weekend left some things to be desired. Mostly goals. And saves. Saturday, they faced Toronto at Ricoh Coliseum. Nathan Lieuwen got the start, making 21 saves. The Amerks put 26 shots on net, but only Phil Varone managed to slip one past Marlies' netminder Christopher Gibson, while the Marlies put three goals past Liewuen. One good game, and one bad game - then came Tuesday in Hamilton.
Understandably, Makarov got the start for the 10am game Tuesday morning, but the whole team missed the memo about the early start. Lasting only 34:34, Makarov allowed five goals on 17 shots. Lieuwen came in as relief, but allowed one more goal in the five shots he faced, bringing Hamilton's total to six, while Rochester managed one measly goal. Too little, too late. After the game, Coach Cassidy said that the team could've used "a few more saves" from Makarov at the beginning of the game. I'd imagine that they could've used a few more goals and scoring chances, too. Hamilton improved to 2-1 against the Amerks this season, with a 4-4-2-0 record overall. I want to note that Nick Petrecki left the game in the first period against Hamilton after fighting Jack Nevins and didn't return, which may make him questionable for this weekend. As soon as I know more, folks, I will surely let you know, so keep your eyes peeled to the twitters.
I don't think that one bad game should put Makarov's hiney on the pine(y). I think that he needs more time with his skates on the ice - after all, he was one of the biggest reasons that the Amerks ended up in the playoffs last season. And, let's face it, Lieuwen stunk it up against the crummy Flames not too long ago. I am hopeful that I will (FINALLY) get to see Makarov play this weekend, as the Amerks will have three games on Rochester ice coming up.
The Amerks will take on the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa's farm club) on Friday, who possess a 3-5-2-0 record, and the Utica Comets (Vancouver) on Saturday, who are sitting pretty with a 7-1-2-0 record. While Utica was nearly a gimme every time they faced the Amerks last season, they're currently in first place in the North Division and second in the Western Conference. Finally, on Monday, the Amerks will once again host the Adirondack Flames for Military Appreciation Night. The Flames are 3-6-1-0, with 7 whole points. Hopefully we won't give them, or anyone else, more. It's shaping up to be a fun weekend - and I even get to be a fan for some of it (I think I remember how that works - I think beer is involved!). Hopefully home ice and friendly fans will do the boys some good.