The Rochester Americans will start 2019 playing at home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference.
These two teams have played twice this season but it was back in early October, the Amerks won both of them in one goal games. The first one was a 3-2 overtime win and the second was a 4-3 regulation win. Every week is a new week in the American League so those games can’t be a basis for a prediction with this game.
This is the first of only four Rochester home games in January, a place they haven’t played the best hockey this season. The Amerks are 11-8 at home this season compared to a road record of 9-3-2. They’ve played five home games in Rochester on Wednesday nights and have a 3-2 record.
“It’s our home ice, we want to be good at home,” Chris Taylor said after the morning skate today. “We haven’t been great at home, we’ve been ok, but we want to be great. You can’t just think you’re going to be good on the road for the rest of the year.”
Eric Cornel talked about the key to a win, “I think we have to have a good start, we always say that a lot but it’s important.”
The last game for the Amerks was a 4-3 loss, a game in which they went down 2-0 in the first half of the first period and had to catch up the rest of the game.
Penalties are another concern that is on the teams mind. They’ve spent too much time in the penalty box over the last two games with 18 penalties called resulting in eight power play chances for the other teams in each game. Spending too much time on the penalty kill in Utica diminished their chances of a come back win. They’ve also allowed a five on three goal in each of the last two games.
The power play has improved in over the last three games with seven power goals, enough to move them up from 19th in the league overall to fourth. They’ve had some balanced scoring with six different goal scorers. CJ Smith had two of those seven goals. The other five from Wayne Simpson, Kyle Criscuolo, Zach Redmond, Danny O’Regan, and Eric Cornel.
Alex Nylander will play tonight after missing the last game and majority of the game the night before. Last Friday he took a hit early in the first period and left the game shortly after. He’ll likely be paired up with Kyle Criscuolo and Wayne Simpson.
Victor Olofsson is tied for the team lead with 29 points (10G+19A) but would like to be scoring more goals than he has been. “The goals haven’t really been there for me so I’m looking to score a few more goals but I’ve been playing pretty good I think and putting up some assists,” he said this morning. “I’m happy if I can help my teammates score too.”
After the hot start for Olofsson with 12 points (5G+7A) in his first six games of the season he’s gone into a slump in terms of goal scoring. After the first six games of the season he had a stretch of only three goals spread out over 18 games. He only has two goals in the last six games, both goals were scored in one game.
The team has watched video on Bridgeport and how they’ve played but Eric Cornel said, “We know what works for us so in the end we focus more on ourselves than what they do.”
Puck drops at 7:05pm tonight in downtown Rochester. This weekend the Amerks travel to Laval for back to back road games on Friday and Saturday.