The good news from the Amerks morning practice today was that Paul Szczechura and Maxime Legault are cleared for action and assuming there’s no last minute set backs they’ll be in the lineup Friday night against the Binghamton Senators and for the remainder of the season. Szczechura has been out of the lineup since last April and has been recovering from ACL surgery. Legault had surgery on his right shoulder at the end of the spring.
Quick addition: Paul Szczechura was put on waivers today by the Buffalo Sabres, a formality to have him sent down to Rochester. Even though he’s been in Rochester since training camp he was never officially sent down. Teams can’t send injured players down to the minors so they had to wait for him to be cleared by the doctors. There’s no reason he won’t clear.
“Paul and Maxime both have experience in the league. They’re both are veterans, both know what it takes to win,” Rolston said. ”You have to have those kinds of guys in the lineup.”
Szczechura has been practicing since training camp with the Amerks but this will be the first set of games he’s been cleared to play. The plan is to start playing and not stop, not just one or two games out of the three game weekend.
In practice it’s looked like he’s been ready to play for a few weeks but that decision was up to someone else. Szczechura said, “it was all up to the doctors since they’re the ones that know what they’re talking about. It’s not going to feel normal for a while but it feels strong on the ice, I’m confident in the knee. They say it takes a while for you to quote ‘be 100%.’ Everything’s confident and every things strong.”
He hasn’t played since April 19, 2011 when he suffered the knee injury in a playoff game with the Norfolk Admirals. He said that he’s, “excited, a little nervous and anxious to get out there and play some hockey. Hopefully I can get back into things pretty quick, get up to the speed of the game, getting hit, that kind of stuff.”
“I’m going to try and play my game, if some goals come great,” he said. ”I want to just work on the things that I do well. I can score goals. I can make plays. I just need to make sure I do the little things right, take it one step at a time and build off of that.”
Getting hit for the first time is something that both Legault and Szczechura both probably want to happen quickly to just get it over with. They both talked about getting back into the mindset of playing a game and how it’s a lot different from practice. Your teammates know that you’ve been off for a while, your opponents are trying to run you over.
“The first few games are always trying to find your game back,” Maxime Legault said. “I’m not putting pressure on myself, just want to do my job and see what happens from there.”
When asked about confidence in the team with players returning Rolston said, “There’s two ways to look at that, sometimes when guys come back into the lineup other guys just hand over and say ‘Paul’s back we’re going to score now.’ We want to make sure their mindset for the guys that have been in the lineup is that they’re competing and doing the things to help the team win. We’re very happy to have them back in the lineup, both are going to help us, but it will also take some time for them to get integrated into the team really be where they feel they can be successful.”
The Amerks need to end their give game losing streak and getting these two players back from injury will help that happen. They’ll add some more leadership, some offense and should also make other players work harder that will be pushed down in the lineup.
Having watched every game from the stands so far is something Szczechura and Legault would not have preferred to do but they’ve made the most of the time.
“Watching games from the stands is a really good thing, you can see openings, what guys do wrong, what guys do good,” Legault said. ”I see so much opportunity for things I can do. I think it was helpful for me.”
He finished saying, “I think i’ve seen enough from the stands.”
Watching from the side Szczechura added, “I’ve sat in on a bunch of video sessions and stuff like that. Just watching the games, we’re getting the chances (scoring), breaking down defensively a little bit, but offensively we are getting chances,” he said. ”They’re just not going into the net. We don’t want to panic too much when you’re the chances are coming, it’s when the chances stop coming that you have to get back to the basics.”
Another move Ron Rolston will be trying is moving Joe Finley up front to play as a winger.
“Joe has a great attitude, works hard, versatile, wants to help us win. He wants to help uswin in any way he can whether its forward or defense,” Rolston said. ”He has a good skill level, he can keep the game easy and be big.” When asked why the move Rolston said, “He’s the guy that can help us on the fourth line. More energy, more physical presence. We beed more energy to keep the momentum going when they get their shifts and we think he can do that.”
Asked if that’s an indication they weren’t happy with who has been on the fourth line Rolston said, “players were doing ok, getting complacent. A lot of injurues early, no battles for jobs early on. Now we’re in a situation where guys that were getting complacement or thorught they’d be in the lineup are now in a battle for positions, it’s the point we wanted to be at, just getting to that point in 10 games, that situation will start helping our team out too.”
A few other things:
- The Amerks are leaving this afternoon for Binghamton, a day early. There was no ice time available in Rochester on Friday morning so they’ll head down early to get in their morning skate. Apparently the ice isn’t ready at the War Memorial and there’s a big tournament at MCC this weekend. Leaving a day early for a 3 hour road trip is almost unheard of but thanks to some extra money from new ownership it’s something they can do.
- Dennis Persson is back on the ice practicing and getting mobile but is still a week to two weeks away from playing.
- Michael Ryan is “3 weeks away.” Ron Rolston said that, “he has some things he has to go through but is about 3 weeks away.” He wouldn’t discuss exactly what’s going on but said he needs some time and three weeks to be about 100% and they want to make sure when he comes back he’s ready to play and doesn’t have issues for the rest of the year.