There are only 26 games left in the regular season for the Rochester Americans and it feels as if they finally have a lineup that they should have had to start the season. The race has started and it’s going to be close down the stretch for the playoffs so it’s almost as if it could be said that a new season starts this weekend with back to back games against a divisional opponent, the Lake Erie Monsters.
I asked Rolston if it feels like this is the lineup he would’ve liked earlier in the season and he said, “In terms of players for sure, that doesnt really make a difference though in a sense that you have to make sure to play the right way.” He went on to say, “I’ve talked about the last couple of weeks our challenge now is to get our new players and chemisty back together. We’ve been playing with guys up and down and in different spots. Guys injured. Guys in out an out of the lineup. Now that we have players back it’s good in a sense that our lineups good but we also have to make sure that we’re working hard and commiting to what we need to do”
Colin Stuart is healthy. Michael Ryan is healthy. Luke Adam has been sent down and is in the lineup. Evan Rankin should be back next weekend which will help as well. There’s still a challenge though in getting players back into the rhythm of a game after being out of a lineup. Stuart has been out since the middle of December. Ryan missed 43 games. Adam is adjusting to a new environment and essentially a new team. Rolston said that he thinks Ryan, Tropp, Stuart and even Brennan still aren’t where they’d like to be but they’re getting there.
With those guys all in the lineup and a three players sent to the ECHL it’ll be a whole new set of line combinations and finding that chemistry.
Rolston said, “Guys are in different roles. The power play is switched up. The penalty kill is switched up. The lines switched up. Now you have a lot of players in there but we need to get the chemistry back together and get guys on the same page.”
Chemistry is usually something discussed with a new team in training camp in the middle of October but it’s now a challenge for the Amerks in the middle of February.
If you didn’t catch it earlier or notice on the sidebar a playoff race and projections article has been started. With under 30 games left to play for every team it’s time to really get down to business and it’s not going to be easy for the Amerks. Check it out here. There’s only one point difference between the Amerks and Monsters so these two games will have a big impact on the standings.
As Rolston told the players on the ice this morning, “No excuses, we control our own destiny.”
Here’s how the lines looked in practice this morning:
Corey Tropp – Luke Adam – Colin Stuart
Marcus Foligno – Paul Szczechura – Derek Whitmore
Mike Ryan – Phil Varone – Evan Rankin
Maxime Legault – Travis Turnbull – Jacob Lagace
TJ Brennan – Alex Biega
Brayden McNabb – Dennis Persson
Nick Crawford – Shaone Morrisonn
Corey Fienhage – Drew Schiestel
** Igor Gongalsky is a posibility returning from a lower body injury. Alex Biega looks ready to play as well.
** Joe Finley and Evan Rankin are out this weekend, expected back next weekend.
** Matt MacKenzie is back to practicing with the team but will be out until sometime in March.