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Amerks Weekly - Dec 24-Dec 30

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Santa delivered a stocking full of coal after the Amerks dropped three straight last week to basement dwellers.

Micheline Velovolu | Rochester Americans

Amerks Games This Week

  • Wednesday 12/26 - 7:00pm - at Cleveland Monsters (16-10-4-0)
  • Friday 12/28 - 7:05pm - vs Toronto Marlies (14-11-3-2)
  • Saturday 12/29 - 7:00pm - at Utica Comets (16-14-2-1)

AHL North Division Standings as of December 24th

The Amerks went 0-3-0-0 last week and they now barely lead in the AHL’s North Division. The Crunch still have three games in hand and they’re only two points back. Those two wins against Cleveland a couple weeks back are the only thing keeping them atop the division right now.

The Amerks dropped one place to third place in the Eastern Conference and three places to fifth overall in the league.

What Happened Last Week?

Record Dec 17-Dec 24: 0-3-0-0

In a continuation of a concerning trend, the Amerks played down to the level of lesser opponents and put up three stinkers. Wednesday night was particularly bad, as the team held a 3-0 lead halfway through the first period and a 4-1 lead early in the second period before giving up four unanswered goals and losing 4-5 in regulation. I was there and I’m still dumbfounded as to how that happened.

There’s no question at this point that Lawrence Pilut was one of the the most important players on the Amerks roster - likely the single most important player - and his absence has left a gaping hole at both ends of the ice. And while there have been defensive lapses, perhaps most concerning is the lack of consistency from the offense.

Players like C.J. Smith, Victor Olofsson, Justin Bailey, Alexander Nylander, and Danny O’Regan have been streaky all season while the same lack of depth scoring that has plagued the Sabres also seems to be affecting the Amerks.

By my count, only 10 of the Amerks’ 71 goals from forwards have come from third or fourth line players, while 24 of the Amerks’ 95 total goals on the season have come from defensemen (14 from Zach Redmond alone).

Bright Spots

  • On the ice last week? I can’t think of any aside from the long anticipated return of Kyle Criscuolo following nearly two months off due to injury. He registered an assist on Friday night in his first game back and the Amerks desperately need his playmaking ability going forward. Here’s hoping he’s fully recovered and can continue to contribute going forward.
  • The Amerks have partnered with the University of Rochester Golisano Children’s Hospital this season to have an Honorary Captain of the Game, in which they invite a patient and his or her family to the game and feature them on the ice before the game. The team’s PR department released this video of the season’s first honorary captain, 17 year-old Joe Brase of Spencerport, NY:

Room For Improvement

  • Everywhere and everything.
  • Look, I’m writing this on Christmas morning and I’d rather not think about the mess that was last week. They have a lot of work to do, so let’s hope Santa wrapped up some energy, compete, and heart and gave it to all the Amerks players and coaches this morning.

Look Ahead

The end of 2018 is quickly approaching and we’re almost halfway through the regular season. This week brings three more games against North Division rivals, including another hugely important game against the Cleveland Monsters. A loss on Wednesday night could see the Amerks lose control of the North Division for the first time since Week 1.

Also rolling into town will be the still struggling Toronto Marlies on Friday night, and the surging Utica Comets on Saturday. Utica is 7-2-1-0 in their last 10 games and they always seem to give the Amerks trouble, particularly when Thatcher Demko is in their net.

This week should set the tone for the remainder of the season. If the Amerks can come out and take six-of-six points, they’ll retain control of the division. Any slip up and they will likely watch first place slip away, as second place Syracuse still has three games in hand.

Transactions

  • December 17, 2018 - Matt Tennyson (D) ⬇️ from Buffalo to Rochester.
  • December 17, 2018 - Devante Stephens (D) ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester.
  • December 19, 2018 - Devante Stephens (D) ⬇️ from Rochester to Cincinnati.
  • December 19, 2018 - Myles Powell (F) ⬇️ from Rochester to Cincinnati.
  • December 22, 2018 - Brendan Guhle (D) ⬇️ from Buffalo to Rochester.

Video Room

Game 28 - 12/19/2018 - Home Loss vs Belleville Senators

Game 29 - 12/21/2018 - Home Loss vs Hartford Wolf Pack

Game 30 - 12/22/2018 - Home Loss vs Hartford Wolf Pack

Injury Report

  • Andrew Oglevie - Concussion - Indefinite
  • Kevin Porter - Lower Body - Week to Week

Farmville

The Cincinnati Cyclones are 20-5-2-2 and are now ranked first in the entire ECHL!

Jonas Johansson is 10-3-1-2 with a 2.53 GAA and an .910 SV%. He’s rebounded nicely in Cincy since being pulled from his last start in Rochester.

Devante Stephens (D) With all the defensive turnover in Rochester, Stephens was given a promotion last week... for about 48 hours. He was scratched before the Amerks game on Wednesday night and was returned to Cincy the next day having done nothing but practice with the Amerks. His stats in Cincy are still looking pretty: putting up 5+10=15 in 26 games, and his +22 rating is the best on the team. It seems that he’s developing nicely down in Cincy, but I’ve yet to get a chance to look beyond the stats. Assuming Lawrence Pilut is never coming back to Rochester, it’s likely that Stephens will make his return to the Amerks at some point down the line this season.

Old Friends

  • Matt Moulson: 9+14=23 in 26 games with Ontario.
  • Nicholas Baptiste: 6+7=13 in 32 games with Milwaukee.
  • Colin Blackwell: 4+0=4 in 11 games with Milwaukee.
  • Cliff Pu: 1+2=3 in 26 games with Charlotte.
  • Seth Griffith: 5+10=15 in 22 games with Manitoba.
  • Jordan Nolan: 7+8=15 in 24 games with San Antonio.
  • Hudson Fasching: 9+10=19 in 28 games with Tucson.
  • Taylor Fedun: 1+2=3 in 3 games with Texas / 2+3=5 in 15 games with NHL Dallas Stars.
    (10 games remaining in Dallas until he generates a seventh-round pick for Buffalo).
    Also notable: he’s still leading the Stars in most advanced stats (obviously in limited and highly-sheltered minutes, small sample size, etc.).

Question of the Week

Assuming the Sabres get to a point where all of their non-prospect defensemen are healthy, they’ll have eight rostered D: Rasmus Ristolainen, Rasmus Dahlin, Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella, Jake McCabe, Matt Hunwick, Casey Nelson, and Nathan Beaulieu. If you were GM, what roster moves would you make in order to keep Lawrence Pilut in Buffalo — OR — would you rather they simply send him back to Rochester?