The 2019 AHL All-Star break is over and it’s time for the last stretch of the season to the playoffs. The Rochester Americans went into the break finishing the week with five out of a possible six points and still sitting in first place of the North Division. It took some work to get the points but the team stuck to their plan and it paid off. The loss against Syracuse was a tough game that came down to a turnover in overtime.
A lot of players hopped on planes to go and visit family and friends for a few days off. With the cold weather and blizzard in Buffalo it’s somewhat of a miracle that everyone made it back in time.
Matt Tennyson went to New York City for the weekend to visit his girlfriend. He said, “I think mentally it’s huge to step away from the rink, get your batteries recharged, get feeling good, and then we have a ton of games coming up.”
The team hit the ice late Thursday morning for a quick practice to get as they say, a good sweat in, before hopping on the bus to Binghamton to prepare for the weekend.
“I think the biggest thing is mentally for me. The players getting away from the game and not thinking about anything,” Chris Taylor said when asked if the time off is a better mental or physical break. “Our practice today was very good, the guys were ready to go. The execution was really good for the first day, they were just involved, and happy to be back.”
A number of players took off for Florida but one player that had a different kind of break was Adam Wilcox. He had planned on taking a quick trip to Milan, Italy but ended up in Scranton, PA instead. “Well actually it’s a long long story but I supposed we have a little time,” he started off with when asked about his trip. “We ended up driving to Scranton and spending the night there in the electric city just like in The Office.”
The trip had to be altered because he closed on buying a house with his wife which required a money transfer to be completed in person. The closest bank to accomplish that was in Scranton so they drove to Scranton, spent a couple of days there, saw some sights from The Office (one of his favorite shows), and completed the transaction.
Adam Wilcox is expected to play one of the two games this weekend and hopes to get a win under his belt. His last win was on December 15 at Cleveland. Since then he’s started in five of 16 games. Three regulation losses, one overtime loss, and one shootout loss.
Friday Night at Binghamton
This is the fifth of 10 games between the two teams and the four games leading up to tonight have been tough ones. The last game was a 7-5 win but at a point in the game the Amerks had a 4-1 lead. Binghamton is only five points back of the 4th place Marlies so they’re still battling and trying to make a case for themselves. At this point last season the top four teams in the North Division was already in place.
Here’s the results of the four games between the teams this season:
Binghamton 5 @ Rochester 7 (Jan 23 2019) Final
Binghamton 5 @ Rochester 1 (Dec 12 2018) Final
Rochester 0 @ Binghamton 3 (Dec 1 2018) Final
Rochester 4 @ Binghamton 3 (Nov 24 2018) Final
Saturday Night at Hartford
Hartford is in last place of their division but it’s another game that can’t be taken lightly. Hartford won the last two games in Rochester and will be looking to defeat a first place team. This is the fourth and final game of the season between the teams. The last two were physical games with some fights involved. Dalton Smith is likely out of the lineup on Friday night, here’s hoping he’s in on Saturday.
Here’s the results of the three games between the teams this season:
Hartford 5 @ Rochester 1 (Dec 22 2018) Final
Hartford 4 @ Rochester 2 (Dec 21 2018) Final
Rochester 4 @ Hartford 3 (Nov 18 2018) Final
Winning the only option to stay on top. Tennyson said, “We expect to win every game, we never going into a weekend or game saying lets get it to overtime or play our best. We know we can win any night and we’re going to have to win every night and compete every night because there are good teams right on our heels.”
Chris Taylor looking ahead, “This is a big weekend for us just getting back into it and we want to start it off right.”
Since January 1st the Amerks have successfully killed 25 of its last 27 penalties in the last 10 games. Overall the penalty kill unit is still in the bottom half of the league but there’s improvement.
Randy Sexton on The Sports Bar
The Sports Bar had Randy Sexton in studio on Thursday afternoon and they touched on a variety of topics from Lawrence Pilut, Zach Redmond, Leier/Bailey trade, and overall thoughts.
On the Redmond injury – wasn’t as serious as initially thought once they had time to examine the injury.
On the chances of signing Redmond to an NHL deal, “The arrangement always was if and when he was ready to do a two way deal and we thought we either really needed him or we wanted him to be longer time we would do it. We haven’t done that yet, we’ll see what shakes out over the coming weeks.”
Saying the right things but with an abundance of defenseman already under NHL contracts it would probably take a major shake up for Redmond to get a new contract.
Talking about Lawrence Pilut and staying in Buffalo versus coming back to Rochester he said, “When we develop players we try and do things with a long term in mind. We don’t like to yo yo players, up down, up for game, down for game, up for game, down for two days, back up for two weeks.”
On if Pilut will be back for the Amerks playoffs if the Sabres don’t make it or get eliminated, “It’s something we have to evaluate at the time. It depends on how he’s playing in Buffalo, depending on how healthy he is. All things being equal that would be highly likely. he’s a young player and needs to play to develop.”
Added, “We want our young players to play. Particularly in playoff type settings.”
He talked about Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and mentioned that he will be in Rochester at the end of the season. Whether or not he plays a game remains to be seen but he’ll be in Rochester to begin his indoctrination into the Buffalo Sabres organization once his junior season is over.
On the Bailey/Leier trade, “We were looking to change the mix just a little bit.” Mentioned it’s good for both players in new organizations.
On looking for a number one center, “We look every day, they’re difficult to find, and costly to acquire. It’s more likely that it’s something that will happen in the off season.” The team is happy with what they have and if someone comes along they won’t turn down the opportunity.
Mentioning the playoffs he said he doesn’t expect to sweep every round but added, “I would be shocked if we got swept.”
Also talks more about what Linus UIlmark went through at the start of the playoffs last season [ more here ], thoughts on Chris Taylor, and much much more. Give the segment a listen:
Scott Wedgewood, Zach Redmond, Sean Malone, and Andrew Oglevie remain out on the injured list. All of them are considered week to week.
The good news is that the team doesn’t think the injury to Redmond is as bad as initially thought and it sounds like he’ll be the first one to come back. Chris Taylor said that Redmond still at least a week away. No updates on the other three.
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