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Amerks Weekly - Jan 21-Jan 27

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Three of four points in their weekend trip through Pennsylvania helps Rochester maintain their North division lead.

Micheline Velovolu

Amerks Games This Week

  • Wednesday 1/23 - 7:05pm - vs Binghamton Devils (19-21-4-0)
  • Friday 1/25 - 7:05pm - vs Utica Comets (23-18-3-1)
  • Saturday 1/26 - 7:00pm - at Syracuse Crunch (22-13-2-1)

AHL North Division Standings as of January 20th

The Amerks went 1-0-0-1 last week and retained their slim North Division lead. The Points Percentage (PCT) column is where we should really be looking at this point, as each team still has discrepancy in number of games played (GP). Syracuse (who continue to slump) dropped another head-to-head matchup with Utica (who continue to play well), while Toronto made a statement with back to back wins in Charlotte against the Checkers, who are by far the league’s best team.

Overall, the Amerks remain in third place in the Eastern Conference and fourth place in the league.

What Happened Last Week?

Record Jan 14-Jan 20: 1-0-0-1

It’s going to take a while to get used to this...
@LVPhantomns

In a move that was simultaneously surprising and somewhat expected, the Sabres traded Justin Bailey late on Thursday night to Lehigh Valley in exchange for forward Taylor Leier. Most analysis of the trade indicate that this was primarily a change-of-scenery move for Bailey, who struggled to separate himself from the pack of prospects and seemingly fell out of favor with the Sabres management. Bailey was a fan favorite in Rochester for nearly four seasons. His final stats in Rochester were: 196GP, 62G, 54A, 116 points, and 2G in their 3 playoff games last year, notably being one of the only forwards to show up in that series.

It’s a bit too early to tell what Leier will bring to Rochester and it’s tough to compare the players simply because they play such a different style. In four years at Lehigh Valley, Leier’s stats were: 226GP, 56G, 80A, and 136 points.

The team must have taken the news in stride, as they went into Wilkes-Barre/Scranton the following night and earned a strong 5-4 victory, including two goals each from both Zach Redmond (more on that later) and Victor Olofsson.

On Saturday night they made the short trip to Allentown, PA to face Lehigh Valley, just 2 nights after the teams swapped forwards. The Amerks trailed 2-1 in the third period before Matt Tennyson (D) scored his second goal of the season to tie the game. Ultimately the Amerks would lose in a shootout, as Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon played the game of his life, stopping an impressive 49 of 51 shots in regulation and overtime as well as all three shooters in the shootout.

Bright Spots

  • Zach Redmond (D) - Redmond has officially tied the Amerks record for goals in a season by a defenseman, scoring his 17th and 18th goals on Friday night. One more goal during the season’s final 36 games will give him sole position of the scoring title, passing the mark set by Amerks Hall of Famer Rick Pagnutti way back in the 1972-1973 season. Redmond added two more assists in that game in posting his first four-point game of the season.
  • Victor Olofsson (F) - Two more goals on Friday night. While a lot of Sabres fans are eagerly waiting to see him wearing blue and gold, those of us watching him in Rochester would like to remind you all that while the points are coming, they haven’t been entirely consistent. With that said, his overall game is definitely improving as the season progresses and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a taste of the NHL sometime after the trade deadline. Here’s a look at his game winner from Friday night:
  • Jack Dougherty (D) - Let’s give a little love to Jack, who was acquired in the trade that sent Nicholas Baptiste to the Nashville Predators organization. Jack has quietly put up six points in 24 games this season. He missed 11 games due to injury early in the season, but since returning has found a regular role on the blue line, being a healthy scratch only four times in that time among a crowded D corps. His +13 rating leads all active Amerks - trailing only Lawrence Pilut’s astonishing +19 in 16 games. He’s been a welcome addition to the right side of the Amerks defense.
  • Taylor Fedun (D) played his 25th game with the Dallas Stars, and thus the NHL Trade Fairy left a 7th Round pick in the 2020 draft under Jason Botterill’s pillow.
  • Scott Wilson (F) - Went Penguin hunting on Friday night...

Room For Improvement

  • I’m going to pick on the Power Play again, as they went 0-for-7 on Saturday night in the loss to Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms have the league’s best PK, but elite teams take advantage of man-advantage opportunities, and if the Amerks truly want to believe that they are an elite team in this league, it’s time to start holding them to a higher standard. A goal on any one of those seven opportunities very likely could have changed the entire tone of the game, instead LV’s goalie grew more and more confident and ultimately carried his team to victory in a game in which they were outshot by a 51 to 25 margin.
  • Speaking of that Power Play, yes, it currently ranks sixth in the league, however, that ranking is buoyed by the fact that it ranks number one in the league on the road (even after Saturday night). At home, they have a truly abysmal 15% PP%, to rank 25th in the league.
  • Year after year it seems the team plays better on the road than at home, and this season is no different. The Amerks are only 12-9-0-0 at home vs 12-4-2-1 on the road, and their four regulation-road-losses are tied for fewest in the league.

Look Ahead

It’s another tough week of divisional play, with three games this week. Binghamton rolls into town on Wednesday night. The last time they visited BCA they handed the Amerks an embarrassing 5-1 loss on December 12th.

They’ll follow that game up with two big games against the teams directly behind them in the standings - Utica at home on Friday night and Syracuse away on Saturday night.

Amerks fans are on Lawrence Pilut Watch, hoping that the Sabres may loan him back to Rochester to get some games in while the Sabres are on their break. Additionally, the AHL All Star weekend is set to take place on January 27th and 28th; Pilut, along with Zach Redmond, was selected to be a part of the event, so we’ll have to wait and see if Buffalo decides to let him participate while they wait out their league-mandated time off.

Update:

The Amerks vs Marlies game this Friday night will be broadcast on MSG!

Transactions

  • January 17, 2019 - Justin Bailey (F) ➡️from Rochester to Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
  • January 17, 2019 - Taylor Leier (F) ⬅️from Lehigh Valley Phantoms to Rochester.

Video Room

Game 39 - 1/18/2019 - Away Win vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

Game 40 - 1/19/2019 - Away Loss vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Injury Report

  • Andrew Oglevie (F) - Concussion - Indefinite
  • Sean Malone (F) - Unknown - Unknown

Farmville

The Cincinnati Cyclones are 27-7-3-3, remain in first place in their division, and second overall in the ECHL.

Jonas Johansson (G) is 13-5-1-2 with a 2.79 GAA and an .900 SV%.

Old Friends

  • Justin Bailey: 0+2=2 in 2 games with Lehigh Valley.
  • Nicholas Baptiste: 10+8=18 in 43 games with Milwaukee.
  • Colin Blackwell: 6+0=6 in 12 games with Milwaukee / 0+0=0 in 1 game with NHL Nashville Predators.
  • Hudson Fasching: 9+10=19 in 36 games with Tucson.
  • Taylor Fedun: 1+7=8 in 12 games with Texas / 2+4=6 in 26 games with NHL Dallas Stars.
    Fedun’s trade has now officially met the conditions to send a 7th Round 2020 draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Seth Griffith: 6+20=26 in 33 games with Manitoba.
  • Matt Moulson: 14+17=31 in 36 games with Ontario.
  • Jordan Nolan: 10+9=19 in 30 games with San Antonio / 0+2=2 in 13 games with NHL St. Louis Blues.
  • Cliff Pu: 1+5=6 in 37 games with Charlotte.

Question of the Week

Should Jason Botterill send Lawrence Pilut back to Rochester for some games while the Sabres are off?