The Rochester Americans have missed the playoffs the last three seasons and by the end of Saturday night they’d like to officially end that drought. Getting to the playoffs isn’t going to be enough for this team though, they’re determined to make a run. The Amerks haven’t won a playoff series since the 2004/2005 season.
Between the 1995/1996 and 2004/2005 seasons the Amerks won a Calder Cup, lost in the finals twice, a second round appearance, a third round appearance, two first round exits and two exits in a qualifying game. Since that run they’ve missed the playoffs six times and lost in the first round five times.
“When we started off this whole change last summer our biggest thing was getting the Rochester Americans to the playoffs,” Chris Taylor said this morning. “As the year grew on we looked at it as a team and as an organization that we don’t want to just get there, we want to go far and play deep into the playoffs, challenge each other and challenge everyone in the organization.”
Playoffs have been a guarantee since January but there’s an added level of excitement to make it official and have that “x” next to the team name in the standings. Only two other teams have clinched a playoff birth in the league as of writing this.
Chris Taylor on officially clinching a playoff spot, “We talked about this morning. It’s big for our organization, big for this community, big for each individual in there. We created a culture that we like so far in our dressing room and now we want to bring it out to the community for everyone to enjoy.”
Playoff clinching scenarios: Amerks win + Laval regulation loss or loss in overtime/shootout. If the Amerks win and Laval wins the Amerks will only need one point on Saturday or a Laval loss.
Seth Griffith is back in the lineup tonight after missing the last nine games while called up to Buffalo. He talked about clinching and said, “We talked about it this morning. It should be an exciting time right now. We know what we’re capable. Obviously the guys have struggled the past few games but hopefully tonight we should get back on track.”
Sahir Gill is a points leader on this Amerks team with 15G+20A. He said, “When you have that opportunity you want to take advantage of it right away, you don’t want to let that linger. You certainly want to earn your way in, not wait on other teams to lose or win. We have it in our own hands tonight.”
Gill added, “Playoffs are right around the corner and there’s a certain type of game that’s successful in the playoffs and I think we need to find that and try and get some consistency with that.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity and not relying on Laval to lose could prove tough tonight. Head to head the Amerks are 4-1-2-1 vs Binghamton which means that Binghamton is 4-3-1-0 against the Amerks. The games haven’t been easy and Binghamton has shutout the Amerks twice this season.
There was the usual talk about keeping it simple and playing 60 minutes.
Taylor talked about Binghamton and said, “They have nothing to worry about, they’re playing kind of for themselves but they’re also playing care free hockey and sometimes that works for teams.”
“We haven’t played well at home all year in my mind. The guys know that. We have four games at home right now coming up so tonight’s a great start for us especially with the weekend we had, we want to respond well.”
After 65 games in a season one might think that everyone knows what they need to do at this point in the season.
“There’s always teaching moments, always talking. Making sure that they know I’m here, we care. There’s always questions, always mistakes in hockey. We’re all trying to get better,” Chris Taylor said when asked if everyone should know what they need to do by now. “It’s always learning, always teaching and always listening.”
The team had three fast paced practices with a lot of communication this week. We’ll find out if tonight if they can rebound from last weekend and piece together some wins, something they’ve struggled with in the second half of the season.
Expect Adam Wilcox to get the start in net for the Amerks tonight.