The Time is Now for the Amerks after a Weekend Collapse

The Amerks started this past weekend with a great 6-2 win over the Lake Erie Monsters as a team that looked like it could be on the right path.  What happened after that game though is a different story.  They were outplayed on Saturday night and lost 3-1 to the Monsters to close out the home and home.  The game on Sunday started on the right path with the Ameks putting two goals past the Bulldogs and piling up 20 shots.  After that is a different story.  The Hamilton Bulldogs came out in the second period and thoroughly embarrassed the Amerks in a 7-3 win.  That’s all that really needs to be discussed about those horrid games.

So, what happens tonight against the Hershey Bears?  It’ll be interesting to see.  The last time the two teams played the Amerks were down 2-0 heading into the third period and scored three goals to force the game into a shootout where they lost.  It’s almost hard to believe that a real rivalry used to exist between the Amerks and Bears, two of the oldest hockey franchises in North America.  That was before the AHL grew bigger and separated the teams in the East and West.  Someday when the Amerks are back in the East and the teams play more than twice a season that rivalry may return.  Until then, it’s just another Wednesday game.

If you’re going to the game, make sure to bring a new teddy bear to throw on the ice when the Amerks score their first goal!  The Teddy Bears will be collected and donated to Monroe Ambulance. Fans that bring a Teddy Bear to toss or purchase one at the game will also be entered into a raffle and have the chance to win either an Amerks autographed team stick or suite tickets for an upcoming game.

The Hershey Bears will be without Keith Aucoin who was called up to the Washington Capitals today.  They will have former Amerks forward Jacob Micflickier who is sixth in the league in scoring with 21 goals and 34 assists.  They’ll also have league leading scorer Chris Bourque who has 24 goals and 48 assists.

The Bears also have four of the top seven spots leading the league in power play goals scored.  Jacob Micflickier (13), Graham Mink (11), Chris Bourque (11) and Ryan Potulny (10).  The Amerks penalty killed is ranked 27th in the league.  I think it’s safe to assume the Amerks need to stay out of the penalty box.

When it comes to a league leader for the Amerks the best is Jonathan Parker who leads all rookies with four shootout goals scored.

No, it’s not all about league leaders but when it comes to scoring it shows how much these two teams are different.  Phil Varone, Marcus Foligno, Derek Whitmore and Paul Szczechura are leading the team in scoring but are nowhere near league leaders.  These guys will need to really kick it up a notch and find a scoring touch for the team to win.

If the Amerks are going to make the playoffs they need to stop playing games like they have the last two weekends with one good game followed by a breakdown.  Playing .500 hockey in the final stretch isn’t going to be good enough.  Someone needs to step up and be the leader and drag others along for the ride.  They need to play 60 minutes of hockey and if they get a lead they need to keep piling onto the lead instead of settling down and trying to just hold it and keep the other team from scoring.  The special teams are a joke with the power play ranked 27th and the penalty kill ranked 28th.  Someone needs to find a way to take advantage of power plays by scoring and more importantly killing penalties.

The time is now.  The rookies aren’t rookies anymore.  The team is healthy.  Joe Finley and Evan Rankin are the only two significant injuries.  Rankin has been out for 22 games now which should have been time for the team to adapt.  Joe Finley will be back this weekend.  Michael Ryan is out but since his return he hasn’t shown anything that Szydlowski didn’t show.  The only call up is Zack Kassian.  It’d help to get Kassian back but that’s not an excuse.  The team needs to play disciplined hockey and go back to playing the hockey they did with passion and determination that they had when they had a shell of a lineup.

Rochester is currently in 11th place and four points out of the eighth playoff spot.  The teams below them in the standings, Hamilton, Texas and Grand Rapids play tonight as well and a win by any of those teams and an Amerks loss will make the final spot even tougher.  It’ll be a tough game tonight but a win would be huge heading into the weekend with games against the Phantoms and Monsters on home ice.

The game will also be televised live on TWSN Channel 98 in Rochester and Channel 87 in Buffalo at 7:05pm.