New Lets Go Amerks contributor Dennis Allen Jr. will be posting a scouting report on a different player each home game (and the odd road game) he attends. You can see his previous scouting reports at: http://rocscouting.blogspot.com …… and be sure to follow him @RocScout14
Dennis is an aspiring scout wrapping up his associates program for sport management.
I had very high hopes for the Amerks tonight after the return of Baptiste and Rodrigues was announced. After one period it seemed like the Amerks were firing on all cylinders and were going to dominate the game. Unfortunately, they were not able to maintain that standard of play and were eventually edged in a shootout loss. I was encouraged by what I saw from the Nylander Rodrigues and Bailey line that produced a beautiful goal in the first period. I had extremely high expectations for Baptiste tonight based on all the time he has spent with the Sabres and the production he has had with the Amerks. I felt very let down by his performance tonight and as a result I am going to give him a C- grade.
Baptiste played along side Cole Schneider and Cal O’Reilly as his line mates tonight, and also received second line minutes on the power play. He registered only 2 shots on target and both of them came from very far out on the wing and were not a threat to beat the IceCaps net-minder. He registered an assist on a nice pass to Casey Nelson that was expertly finished. Outside off that he displayed a couple flashes where he made good passes and got on the puck in dangerous situations – but he didn’t do enough. His line should have dominated tonight and to threaten as little as they did is unacceptable.
By far the biggest weakness in Baptiste’s game tonight was his inability to get the puck off of his stick. He was clearly oozing with confidence on the puck, but it didn’t do him much good. On numerous occasions in the offensive zone Baptiste tried to beat a defender or hold him off with his body, instead of dumping the puck deep. It resulted in constant turnovers. The few times he didn’t play the puck directly into the defender he was moved off the puck with relative ease. He was lucky not to get called for holding the defenders stick a few times as well. Late in regulation and overtime Baptiste had a chances to be the hero I expected him to be. Instead he lost the puck leading to dangerous odd man rushes going the other way that almost ended the game. In the shootout he was able to score with relative ease. Based on the elite hand speed he possess – he met expectations. It would have been nice to see those quick hands in front of goal a bit more, but sadly that was not the case.
Defensively Baptiste played an incredibly average game. I thought his forechecking was serviceable, and he didn’t get out of position. But he didn’t make any defensive plays to turn the puck over. He did, however, do a good job in the defensive zone of establishing a physical presence. He wasn’t exactly shaking the boards but he made a few nice hits that were able to take an IceCap off the puck and start the break out. Baptiste didn’t make any mistakes in the defensive zone and as a result he finished +1 on the night.
In some ways it was a good thing that Baptiste’s confidence never wavered taking on defenders. But he absolutely needs to do a better job getting his line mates involved. O’Reilly and Schneider are arguably the two best playmakers on the roster and I’m shocked that he was not more successful playing beside them. Baptiste definitely has the talent to become an NHL mainstay but I was very disappointed by his performance tonight, especially in the big moments of the game when there were plays to be made. I’m sure things will get better for him as he gets reacclimated with his Rochester teammates – and I am looking forward to seeing it.