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Amerks Weekly - Mar 25-Mar 31

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The battle for the North Division rages on.

Christian Bonin

Amerks Games This Week

  • Friday - 3/27 - 7:05pm - vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (32-27-4-3)
  • Saturday 3/29 - 7:05pm - vs Laval Rocket (28-27-6-0)
  • Sunday 3/30 - 7:05pm - at Binghamton Devils (24-37-6-0)

AHL North Division Standings as of March 24th

The Amerks went 2-1-0-0 last week and slipped to second place in the AHL’s North Division.

Overall, the Amerks remain in third place in the Eastern Conference but fell one spot to fourth place in the league.

With only nine games remaining overall until the playoffs begin, every point makes a noticeable difference in the standings as these teams battle for position and home-ice advantage.

What Happened Last Week?

Record Mar 18-Mar 24: 2-1-0-0

The week started with an ugly loss on Friday night at home vs the surging Cleveland Monsters. Chris Taylor did not mince words in describing the game:

“We didn’t play very well at all. Any position. Anything. I didn’t like how we started the game. I didn’t like how we finished the game. I didn’t like anything between the game. A bad game overall.”

With the win and a strong weekend, Cleveland finds themselves in fourth place in the division, slightly edging ahead of Belleville. The top three spots in the division are pretty much locked in by Syracuse, Rochester, and Toronto, but Belleville and Cleveland will battle it out to the end for that last position, and Utica is only four points behind them. It’s going come down to the wire.

The Amerks bounced back in a big way on Saturday with a blowout 5-2 victory in Toronto. The win marked the team’s 40th win of the season. Last season they only had 37 wins, but racked up 91 points thanks in part to an AHL-record 29 overtime appearances. With 87 points so far, they’re only four points short of last year’s total, with nine games remaining.

Saturday’s game also marked the first time the Amerks faced off against old friend Nick Baptiste, who was traded to Toronto by Nashville shortly before the 2019 trade deadline. Right on cue, Bapper added his first goal in eleven games since joining the Marlies.

Sunday’s rematch in Toronto was featured across the continent on the NHL Network and it saw the Amerks pull off a dramatic come from behind victory, edging the Marlies 5-4 in overtime after trailing 1-4 late in the third period. The game featured impressive performances from all members of the Olofsson - Asplund - O’Regan line, who have established themselves as the Amerks’ top offensive threat.

Bright Spots

  • Victor Olofsson (F) - What a weekend for GOALofsson! 3=4=7 in three games, including a 4-assist showing on Sunday. It looks like the Sabres have burned all of their post-deadline recalls, so it’s unlikely Victor will get a chance to show the NHL what he’s capable of this season... and I can’t say I’m upset about that.
  • Rasmus Asplund (F) - What a weekend for Asplund! 2+2=4 in three games. He’s gone 6+7=13 in his last ten games. Asplund has caught fire at the perfect time of the season, as the Amerks continue their battle for first place in advance of what will certainly be an intense first round playoff matchup.
  • Danny O’Regan (F) - What a weekend for DOR! 1+4=5 in three games. He’s now up to 19 goals and 45 points on the year. Here is his beautiful OT winner from Sunday, setup by both of his line mates:

Room For Improvement

  • Power Play - Still need to see more from this group. They need to capitalize on these chances, especially in the playoffs. I’d like to see faster decision making overall from the PP units; often there is too much hesitation before a pass or a shot.

Look Ahead

With three games this week against three teams that will not be in the playoffs, the Amerks should be able to take home 6 points without breaking a sweat, but as we’ve seen too often this season, the team sometimes plays down to the level of lesser opponents rather than asserting their dominance over them.

Wednesday night could bring the return of Justin Bailey to Rochester, as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms come to town. However, Bailey is currently recalled to Philadelphia and unless he’s loaned back in the next 24 hours, it’s unlikely that we’ll get a look at him in orange and black. This will also be Taylor Leier’s first game on home ice versus his former team. Leier has settled in nicely in Rochester and this will be a nice chance for him to send a statement to his former team that they made a mistake in letting him go.

Friday and Saturday bring two divisional matchups against bottom feeding Laval and Binghamton. The Amerks are 2-1 vs Laval this season and this will be their final meeting. They are 6-2 vs Binghamton this season, with two matchups remaining (including this weekend’s game).

Transactions

  • March 19, 2019 - Matej Pekar (F) - Assigned by Buffalo from OHL Barrie to Rochester
  • March 24, 2019 - Lawrence Pilut (D) - ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo
  • March 25, 2019 - Judd Petersen (F) - ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester
  • March 25, 2019 - Kurt Gosselin (D) - ⬆️ from Cincinnati to Rochester
  • March 26, 2019 - William Borgen (D) - ⬆️ from Rochester to Buffalo

Video Room

Game 65 - 3/22/2019 - Home Loss vs Cleveland Monsters

Game 66 - 3/23/2019 - Away Win at Toronto Marlies

Game 67 - 3/24/2019 - Away Win at Toronto Marlies

Injury Report

  • Zach Redmond (D) - Unknown - Day to Day

AHL Playoff Primer

Full playoff scenarios are updated daily over at TheAHL.com

Farmville

The Cincinnati Cyclones are 47-12-4-3 (!!!), crossed the 100 point mark and have now clinched first place in their division. The remain atop the ECHL league standings and are close to locking down the title of regular season champions.

Jonas Johansson (G) finished his season with a 19-5-1-2 record, putting up a 2.60 GAA and a .908 SV%. He has undergone season-ending surgery and will begin his rehab with the hopes of a full-time role in Rochester next season, alongside Ukko Pekka Luukkonen - who is also expected to turn pro this summer.

Old Friends

  • Justin Bailey: 6+2=8 in 17 games with Lehigh Valley / 0+1=1 in 9 games with NHL Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Nicholas Baptiste: 12+10=22 in 55 games with Milwaukee / 1+3=4 in 11 games with Toronto.
  • Colin Blackwell: 11+9=20 in 34 games with Milwaukee / 0+0=0 in 6 games with NHL Nashville Predators.
  • Hudson Fasching: 13+15=28 in 55 games with Tucson.
  • Taylor Fedun: 1+7=8 in 12 games with Texas / 4+7=11 in 48 games with NHL Dallas Stars.
  • Seth Griffith: 12+35=47 in 59 games with Manitoba.
  • Brendan Guhle: 0+1=1 in 7 game with NHL Anaheim Ducks.
  • Matt Moulson: 25+30=55 in 59 games with Ontario.
  • Jordan Nolan: 16+14=30 in 52 games with San Antonio / 0+2=2 in 14 games with NHL St. Louis Blues.
  • Cliff Pu: 1+5=6 in 44 games with Charlotte. / 2+3=5 in 5 games with ECHL Florida Everblades / 1+0=1 in 8 games with Springfield.

Question of the Week

Why do hockey players always seem to score when they play against their former teams?