The best news for the Amerks second game of this road trip against the Grand Rapids Griffins is that they’ll have Joe Finley and Shaone Morrisonn back on defense after they missed a few games. Morrisonn has missed the last three games while serving a three game suspension. Finley has missed the past four Amerks games while called up to the Buffalo Sabres. The defense has gotten by but those two are much more capable defensively against the top lines of opposing teams.
Rochester came back from being down 3-1 this past Saturday against the Griffins and won in the shootout, final score was 4-3. Nick Crawford, Zack Kassian and Mark Voakes scored in regulation and Paul Szczechura, Jonathan Parker and Shawn Szydlowski scored in the shootout for the win. David Leggio made 35 saves for his 12th win of the season. Leggio is now 12-10-1 with a 2.82 GAA. My guess is that Leggio gets another start tonight.
The key to an Amerks win is simple, build a lead through the first two periods and hold on to it going into the third. Pretty basic. The Amerks are 18-4-2-1 when they have a lead going into the third period. They’ve found ways to come back but the lead is the obvious buffer that they need and can hold on to.
Who’s Hot: Despite seeing his career-best seven-game point streak halted, Phil Varone’s lone assist against Grand Rapids on Saturday give him 17 points in his last 18 games for a total of 23 points (5+18) on the season, 15 of which have come over the last month. Crawford, meanwhile, enters play tonight in the midst of a four-game point streak (1+3), and Kassian also shows points in three consecutive games (2+1) to give him seven points (3+4) in his first seven games back with the Amerks since his latest NHL stint with the Sabres. Fellow rookie forward Marcus Foligno shows 10 points (3+7) in his last 12 games, a stretch that includes three multi-point appearances, and Travis Turnbull has found the back of the net three times over his last five outings. Though currently on NHL recall with Buffalo, defenseman T.J. Brennan, who carried a career-best seven-game point streak (3+5) into 2012, shows 10 points (3+7) in his last 11 games and has only been held scoreless three times during that stretch. In his last 13 games in an Amerks sweater, a span that includes two recalls to Buffalo and an injury absence, Brennan has registered 12 points on six goals and six assists. Lagace has recorded three points (1+2) in his last four appearances while Szczechura has collected a goal and an assist through his last three games.
A nice mix of points from various players. Derek Whitmore is in a bit of a drought right now, he hasn’t had a point in seven games. Look for him to emerge from that soon. The Amerks are still without Colin Stuart, Evan Rankin and Corey Tropp who are all out with injuries. That’s some offense that could really help the overall team.
Brock Matheson and Maury Edwards were both released from their PTO deals with the Amerks. Both players looked out of place with the team and not quite ready for the AHL level of play. They filled in the best that they probably could but they were overmatched.
You can listen to the game on 1280AM WHTK at 7pm or pay $6.99 to watch on AHL Live.
After tonight’s game the Amerks will get back on their sleeper bus for a 10 hour bus ride home before playing on the road against Syracuse on Friday night and then travelling to Toronto for an afternoon game on Saturday before the All-Star break.
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