It’s not often that Amerks Coach Chadd Cassidy and I agree on things, but we agree on this: there was "nothing remarkable about this game."
"Blood pressure: Do better. Keep rising. You’re on a road, on a road that’s bound for nowhere." (MuteMath, Blood Pressure)
The Amerks came out looking alright. That’s about it. Alright, not great. With the very extreme exception, as always, of the Mikhail Grigorenko/Joel Armia pairing. The team, as a whole, was lackluster, and could hardly keep up with the rapid, deep rushes generated by the Binghamton Senators. Although Rochester was able to get on the board first, on a beauty of a goal from Grigs, it was an uneventful period. WGR’s Matthew Coller called the pass "sick" (and I’d have to agree), but Grigorenko had other words for it, "The more [Armia and I] play together, the more we feel each other. We get better chemistry every day." I wish I could say that the Amerks escaped the first period unscathed, but that was not the case. There were no more goals, but defenseman Nick Patrecki left in the waning minutes of the first period and did not return. His absence was surely felt, and will be, as he’s day to day with an upper body injury.
With only five men left on defense, it was only a matter of time before the Senators struck, and strike they would. A depleted D-core didn’t benefit from Jake McCabe’s poorly planned fight in the second, either, putting him and Sens LW Alex Guptill in the penalty box for five minutes each and leaving Rochester with just four defensemen. Nearly half way into the second, Binghamton’s Ryan Dzingel capitalized on a sprawling Nathan Lieuwen to tie the game.
Five tired defensemen really were able to showcase how off his game Mark Pysyk has been. He isn’t exactly playing poorly … but he isn’t exactly the NHL-caliber defenseman that you may expect him to be. Sure, he’s coming off of injury that has caused some setbacks. Sure, he’s in Rochester instead of Buffalo, where I’m sure he’d rather be. But, as Cassidy said in his post-game, "You gotta play where you’re at." Prove yourself, essentially. And, in the third period, Pysyk didn’t. He didn’t properly cover his man, leading to Alex Guptill scoring Binghamton’s game-winning goal in the 3rd. Spencerport native, and Sens forward, Shane Prince would put the final nail in the coffin six minutes later.
Another loss. The Amerks third in a row. Are things dire? The Coach and team don’t seem to think so, with everyone stating the same thing: We go into tomorrow with the same attitude as always. I did notice something interesting in Nate Lieuwen’s post game. Opening weekend, he was a goaltender convinced he can stop anything. Tonight, he is getting "better" and has "a little bit to cleanup." Well, Nathan, which is it? Are you good, or are you getting better? He’s definitely looked better than he did tonight, but so has the team as a whole, especially the defense. These were not the Amerks who I watched play a few weeks ago, not by a long shot. And, with a game against the best team in the Western Conference looming tomorrow, something better change quick.
Speaking of, the Utica Comets handily defeated the Lake Erie Monsters Friday night 4-1, bringing their record to 9-1-2 (20). They’re not only the best in the West, they’re the best in the AHL. Friday saw Joacim Eriksson in goal, giving credit to my friend (from Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle) Kevin Oklobzija’s tweet that we’re likely to see former Amerk Jacob Markstrom Saturday in net. That’s probably not exactly cool for the Amerks, since Markstrom is 5-0-1, with four shutouts and has allowed just five goals. Not necessarily good news for the Amerks, who have scored three goals in their last three games. Maybe the sun will shine on the Amerks Saturday, however. Or a miracle will happen. Or something, because hashtag it’s always a former Amerk.
Also! I’m not a spokesperson for the Amerks by any means, but if you’re a Veteran, you should check out the deal the Amerks are running for Monday’s Military Appreciation Game. And, if you’re not a Veteran, don’t be a tool and try to take advantage of it, because that would make you a jerk and I don’t want any jerks hanging out around these parts. But pass it along if you know any Veterans who are into hockey!