The Rochester Americans weren’t very good on Thursday night and it showed on the scoreboard with the Oklahoma City Barons easily skating away with a 5-2 win. The team will use a mulligan and forget the game ever happened and move on to the rematch on Friday night on the same ice surface. I’ll continue going through a game recap but it can be summed up pretty easily, the Amerks were without three of their top defensemen and it showed. The team was missing Shaone Morrisonn, Joe Finley and TJ Brennan and the Barons took advantage of it.
The news leading up to the game was that Michael Ryan would finally be back in the lineup after missing 35 games. Well, he wasn’t. He looked fine at the morning skate and Rolston even talked about him playing after practice. Because of those two things I was expecting to see him but when the team came out for warmups one of the players missing was Ryan. Jacob Lagace wasn’t expected to play either but did given the opening in the roster. Ryan in the lineup probably wouldn’t have been a game changer but he would’ve helped.
Alex Biega made one of the better plays of the game going one on one against Ryan Keller who was rushing into the Amerks zone. Biega was able to slow Keller and push the play away from the net but followed up a great play with a poor play by being called for a hooking penalty. The Amerks penalty kill is 23rd in the league but did a great job killing it off.
The Amerks scored first in the game at 7:53 of the first period when Paul Szczechura scored his fifth goal of the season. Jacob Lagace made a quick pass to Zack Kassian in front of the Barons net where he attempted to redirect the pass into the net. Yann Danis made a great save on the redirect but his momentum took him out of position and Szczechura skated into the slot and put away the rebound.
Oklahoma City scored just over two minutes later at 9:58 of the first period when Hunter Tremblay slid the puck through the five hole of Leggio. The play started when a Barons player fired the puck from across the blue line at Leggio as they went to make a line change Leggio made the save and like most goalies would do he dished the puck off to the side of the net but the Amerks weren’t able to clear it and it resulted in a goal. The second Barons goal scored by Mark Acrobello was a shot from the point on a delayed power play that was tipped past Leggio to give them a 2-1 lead.
The rest is pretty much history.. The Barons continued to go at the net and keep the defense out of position which allowed them to score goals. The fourth Barons goals came after Jonathan Parker made a perfect tape to tape pass in the neutral zone to a Barons played who went in to score. Parker wasn’t seen on the ice for some time after that.
The Barons defense was able to do what the Amerks couldn’t and that was keep control of the middle section of the ice in front of their goaltender Yann Danis. Their defense was also able to successfully move the puck out of their own end and create plays down the ice. The Amerks defense had struggles all night doing that.
Travis Turnbull scored at 18:52 of the second period to make it a 5-2 game. The goal was scored off of a faceoff only 11 seconds after the Barons fifth goal was scored by Teemu Hartikainen. Turnbull split the defense down the middle and put a back handed shot past Danis. That was the last of the offense the team could put together.
Yann Danis was excellent in net throughout the game with the highlights coming in the second period when he robbed Paul Szczechura with an excellent glove save and then shortly after did the same thing to Marcus Foligno. If those two shots had gone in the game would’ve been 4-3 in favor of the Barons and likely changed the flow of it.
If the Amerks are going to win on Friday night they’ll need to find a way to get the play in the Barons zone. Seems pretty basic and simple.
A few other items about the game…
Newcomer Brock Matheson came out of the penalty box late in the second period and Paul Szczechura saw this and sent a great pass up ice to Matheson who should’ve had a breakaway. Matheson didn’t appear to expect that and the chance went out the window.
The Amerks did a great job killing off a two man advantage the Barons had late in the second period. Matheson and Turnbull were in the box at the same time for delay of game penalties, something that could be avoided.
The Amerks power play is ranked 22nd in the AHL and it showed. They had six chances but weren’t able to score on any of them.
Leggio stopped 29 of 34 shots on net allowing five goals. It’ll be interesting to see if Rolston starts Leggio again or gives the start to MacIntyre. Leggio didn’t play poorly by any means but MacIntyre will get a start either Friday or Saturday night.
Zack Kassian again had a less than stellar game. He assisted on the first Amerks goal of the game but that was one of the few highlights. He isn’t playing physical and he doesn’t seem to be playing with the same edge and grit that he had against the Binghamton Senators and Hershey Bears two weeks ago. What’s the answer? Get some players back in the lineup like Colin Stuart and Evan Rankin so that Kassian isn’t expected to be a top line scorer. That’s not his game but it’s what’s being expected of him and it’s likely throwing him off.
The defense consisting of Alex Biega, Dennis Persson, Corey Fienhage, Nick Crawford, Maury Edwards and Brock Matheson will have to be better on Friday if the Amerks are to win. The puck drops at 7:35pm, see you there!