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Amerks Weekly - Dec 31-Jan 6

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Two out of three convincing wins were not enough as the Amerks watch their division lead slip away.

Micheline Velovolu | Rochester Americans

Amerks Games This Week

  • Wednesday 1/2 - 7:07pm - vs Bridgeport Sound Tigers (21-9-4-1)
  • Friday 1/4 - 7:30pm - at Laval Rocket (13-16-3-2)
  • Saturday 1/5 - 3:00pm - at Laval Rocket (13-16-3-2)

AHL North Division Standings as of December 31st

The Amerks went 2-1-0-0 last week but that wasn’t good enough. For the first time since Week 1, they are no longer leading the AHL’s North Division. That honor now belongs to the Syracuse Crunch. Don’t panic just yet... these teams will face each other nine more times this season, so there are 18 points up for grabs just in those games alone (“36 points” when you factor in the head-to-head nature of the games).

Overall, the Amerks dropped one position to fourth place in the Eastern Conference and retained fifth place in the league.

What Happened Last Week?

Record Dec 23-Dec 30: 2-1-0-0

On the surface, four out of six points doesn’t look too bad, especially when one of those wins was a shutout on the road against the Cleveland Monsters (the team directly behind you in the standings) and the other win was a 5-1 demolition at home against the Toronto Marlies (a team that is a shell of its former self, yet remains within striking distance in a tight North Division).

The problem lies in the fact that the lone loss came on the road against the Utica Comets (a team that has consistently given the Amerks trouble for the better part of two seasons and is now in fourth place in the division) - and the Syracuse Crunch continue to play well, going 7-3-0-0 in their past ten games vs the Amerks’ 5-5-0-0.

The top four teams in the division are separated by just five points in the standings, though there is still some variation in number of games played at this point.

Full game recaps are linked below.

Bright Spots

  • Zach Redmond broke a seven game goal scoring drought. The Amerks are 12-1 when Redmond scores a goal, compared to 8-10 when he does not.
  • Kyle Criscuolo is a welcome addition to the Amerks roster. He’s gone 1+4=5 in the five games since returning from injury, including this excellent assist on Wednesday night against the Cleveland Mutant Ninja Turtles:
  • C.J. Smith has consistently been the Amerks best forward all season and he’s finally been rewarded for his efforts, earning his first NHL recall since the 2016-2017 season.
  • Let’s give Scott Wedgewood some recognition for his performance last week. He allowed just one goal in two starts to lead the Amerks to two victories. Wedgewood has been the stronger of the two Amerks goaltenders over the past month.
  • The Power Play has woken from its long slumber, going 7 of 16 last week and climbing back to 5th in the league overall. The Penalty Kill has also improved a bit, killing 17 of 20 while still lumbering down at 24th in the league.
  • Dalton Smith is a wrecking ball. Keith over at LetsGoAmerks.com wrote a great profile piece on what he brings to the team including some great quotes from his teammates.

Room For Improvement

  • Injuries have finally taken their toll on the Amerks options at forward. Here’s hoping that whatever is affecting Alexander Nylander is just a minor issue, as it would be a real disappointment for him to miss any extended time now that he is finally starting to show flashes of his true potential.
  • I don’t have the stats to back this up, but my eyes tell me that the officiating in the AHL this season has been tighter than ever, with the referees calling more penalties than ever before, and many of them are often terrible. If I can notice that, then surely the players notice it too. Hopefully they are able to avoid situations that wind up with them in the penalty box while simultaneously using it to their advantage to draw as many power plays as possible. Dalton Smith and Yannick Veilleux have both been suspended this season.
  • Secondary scoring isn’t just a problem in Buffalo. The Amerks could also use some more production from down the lineup. We’ll have to wait and see who steps up if this C.J. Smith recall keeps him off the ice in Rochester for any games.

Look Ahead

On Wednesday night the Bridgeport Sound Tigers come into town. The Amerks beat them twice early in the season, but since that time Bridgeport has turned it up a notch and they now have the second most points in the league - they’d be leading the league if you gave them the four points from those two games vs Rochester. This game will be the Amerks best test of the season so far.

They’ll finish the weekend with back to back games in Laval against the Rocket who are in the midst of another disappointing season.

So far this season, the Amerks have typically played to the level of their competition, which is great when they’re playing good teams, but it’s embarrassing when they’re playing bad teams. I’d like to see them go out and grab at least five points. Syracuse has games vs Utica, Bridgeport, and Toronto, while Cleveland gets Utica twice. In any event, the North Division will continue to be a tight race for the foreseeable future.

Transactions

  • December 26, 2018 - Vasily Glotov (F) ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester.
  • December 28, 2018 - Scott Wedgewood (G) ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo.
  • December 28, 2018 - Jonas Johansson (G) ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester.
  • December 30, 2018 - Scott Wedgewood (G) ⬇️ from Buffalo to Rochester.
  • December 31, 2018 - C.J. Smith (F) ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo.

Video Room

Game 31 - 12/26/2018 - Away Win vs Cleveland Monsters

Game 32 - 12/28/2018 - Home Win vs Toronto Marlies

Game 33 - 12/29/2018 - Away Loss vs Utica Comets

Injury Report

  • Andrew Oglevie - Concussion - Indefinite
  • Kevin Porter - Lower Body - Week to Week
  • Alexander Nylander - Upper Body - Day to Day
  • Matt Tennyson - Unknown - Unknown

Farmville

The Cincinnati Cyclones are 21-6-2-2, remain in first place in their division and are second overall in the ECHL.

Jonas Johansson is 10-4-1-2 with a 2.68 GAA and an .907 SV%.

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.

Vasily Glotov (F) has earned his first recall of the season as a result of the AHL’s two-game suspension of Yannick Veilleux. He played an uneventful game on the fourth line in Wednesday night’s shutout victory over Cleveland. He was scratched on both Friday and Saturday night.

Old Friends

  • Matt Moulson: 9+14=23 in 28 games with Ontario.
  • Nicholas Baptiste: 6+8=14 in 34 games with Milwaukee. On December 31 he received his first recall of the season and will join the Nashville Predators this afternoon.
  • Colin Blackwell: 4+0=4 in 11 games with Milwaukee.
  • Cliff Pu: 1+2=3 in 28 games with Charlotte.
  • Seth Griffith: 5+12=17 in 23 games with Manitoba.
  • Jordan Nolan: 7+8=15 in 24 games with San Antonio.
  • Hudson Fasching: 9+10=19 in 30 games with Tucson.
  • Taylor Fedun: 1+2=3 in 3 games with Texas / 2+4=6 in 17 games with NHL Dallas Stars.
    (8 games remaining in Dallas until the Fedun trade generates a seventh-round pick for Buffalo).

Question of the Week

Pick an Amerks player and write their New Year’s resolution!

I realize that’s not a question, but just roll with me here.