The Amerks travel to Albany tonight to try and revenge their only regular season loss of the season.Â The Amerks played a lousy game on October and lost 6-1 to the River Rats.Â I wrote after that game that the they were slow, they were rarely able to generate consistent offense, and they looked tired.
A lot has changed since thatÂ game though.Â The team has had more than a week of practice time together and have been on a four game winning streak since then.Â The chemistry, the winning streak, the pride, and the hard work should be enough for the team to put together another win.Â One thing the Amerks will need to do is not allow the River Rats to try and push them around again.Â We should expect to see Jimmy Bonneau back in the lineup.
You can watch the game for FREE on The AHL Live http://www.ahllive.com.
Alexander Salak will be getting the start in the net.
Tyler Plante hurt his knee during Wednesdays game against the Binghamton Senators.Â Rory Fitzpatrick is also dealing with pain from scar tissue following his sports hernia surgery and will be out of the lineup.
Protecting the Goalie
One thing the Amerks will need to do is step up their game in protecting the goalie.Â Tyler Plante was hit at least six times on Wednesday night, one of the hits resulted in his knee injury.Â Two goaltender interference penalties were called but I think there should have been at least one more.
A couple of comments in the post game article agreed as well.
Check out this video and you make the call:
One question remains, why didn’t anyone go after Cody Brass after this hit?Â It’s not just that one hit but all of them.Â This is not something the team can allow to happen.Â Something similar happened when Zach Smith was called for boarding after he hit Clay Wilson.Â Shawn Matthias was standing there and did nothing.Â When Victor Oreskovich leveled a Senators player with a clean hit the other teammates were all over Oreskovich.
The team is playing great hockey scoring goals and winning games.Â They don’t need to go out and start playing the same style of hockey the opposition is playing, but they can’t allow the opposition to do this to them.Â It’s something opposing teams will start to notice and start taking advantage of.
Paul Gaustad took matters into his own hands after Tim Jackman recently ran over Ryan Miller, something similar should have happened Wednesday night as well.Â Check out the video if you havn’t seen it.
Were the Senators playing hard and crashing the net?Â Yes.Â If a goalie is out of the crease I think they’re a little more fair game but the Senators were going beyond that.Â Two interference calls in one game is a great indication of what their game plan was.Â It’s something we’ll move on from, but something that the Amerks cannot allow to happen again.
I’m not sure what kind of trend may be occuring at the AHL level, but it’s on the rise in the NHL.Â I’m not the only one talking about “crease crashers.”
Jim Kelly wrote a couple days ago, “NHL must stem the rising tide of crease-crashers; NHLPA intrigue”
Like most things in the NHL, the how and why isn’t really at issue. Goalies, well-padded but arguably as defenseless as a punter in the path of a half-dozen onrushing linesmen, are being overrun across the NHL. It appears to be a tactic and the league is at least giving lip service to doing something about it.
Though it hasn’t officially been added to the agenda for next month’s general manager’s meetings, enough GMs are lobbying to get it there. That alone doesn’t provide for any real hope to putting a stop to the nasty tactic. One need only look at the way the GMs skirted the issue of blows to the head and the NHL Players Association again buried the idea of adjusting the size of goaltenders’ equipment to suspect that there will be much noise and very little action. Still, crease-crashing is an issue that impacts a very important segment of the playing fraternity and, perhaps more importantly, attracts the attention of ownership.
Buffalo News reporter John Vogl wrote the following:
There’s a growing sentiment the line is being crossed too often. There were four goalie interference calls in the league over the weekend and numerous collisions that weren’t penalized.
The New York Post reported that Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was popped three times Saturday by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who escaped without an infraction. Rangers opponents already have been sent to the box four times for running the netminder.
“Something has to be done [by the NHL] or we’ll have to take care of it our way,” Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game. “The way guys are coming in on Hank now is ridiculous.”
Added Sabres coach Lindy Ruff: “I saw a game against the Rangers where they absolutely plowed Lundqvist over a couple times. I think some of that is strategy now. I think that’s going to be the trend to disrupt teams that aren’t giving up a lot, or a hot goaltender.
“I more than expect it. It’s not anything new. I think when teams get frustrated with not scoring goals, then you get more and more powerful people going through the paint.”
It’s something we’ll keep an eye on this weekend.