The Buffalo Sabres are done for the season. While they we’re “too busy trying to score goals” according to former head coach Phil Housley, 75 miles east down the thruway, goals were actually being scored. 244 goals and counting to be exact, which is tied for 3rd in the AHL.
With a playoff spot locked up, Rochester is jockeying for placement in the North Division with Syracuse. As you can see below, if the standings stay the same, the Amerks will play the Toronto Marlies in the first round. The Amerks are clawing their way back after splitting a home and home series with Syracuse, followed up by a win in Cleveland on Monday. Tage Thompson led the way with two goals in that game, pushing him to five goals and two assists in five games.
Below you will see the schedule for the remainder of the regular season.
Besides their game against Binghamton, who is at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Amerks don’t have a cake walk to finish out the season. Syracuse and Belleville both have something to play for, so both teams are going to throw everything they can at Rochester. It has proved wise to put an emphasis on depth in Rochester, which has become a focal point under Sabres GM Jason Botterill and Sabres Assistant GM/Amerks GM Randy Sexton. Buffalo called up multiple players towards the end of the season, causing a few flare ups between Sabres and Amerks twitter, but with the Sabres season over, relief is on the way.
On Monday, Lawrence Pilut, Victor Olofsson and Alex Nylander were returned to Rochester. That’s 117 combined points rejoining an already deep roster. This got me thinking, what could their potential lineups look like in the playoffs? While players will come in and out of the lineup due to their depth, but here’s what I think the Amerks could roll out in the playoffs. I think one of Dalton Smith, Yannick Veilleux and Tyler Randell will get a game here and there, but I’m sticking with more skilled lineup as that’s more common in the playoffs.
These lines are more makeshift than anything at this point with a few guys dinged up and the constant juggling with players coming up and down the past few weeks. Amerks Head Coach has his work cut out for him when creating his lineup card starting on April 19 when Rochester hosts Game 1 of their first round matchup.
Olofsson – Asplund – O’Regan
Smith – Porter – Thompson
Leier – Criscuolo- Nylander
Elie – Malone – Simpson
Scratches: Cornel, Oglevie, D. Smith, Veilleux, Randell, Pekar
Pilut – Redmond
Borgen – Tennyson
MacWilliam – Dougherty
Scratches: Hickey, Fitzgerald, Paestch
This roster is stacked. I was going to mention I’d like to see more skill on the back end, but they should have enough with Pilut and Redmond.
Also, the playoffs are tight checking and teams just want their defensemen to play solid in their own end, limit turnovers and get the pucks up to the forwards, while jumping up if they have they have the opportunity. As long as everyone stays healthy this weekend, all three positions look like they have the depth to make a deep playoff run.
The Amerks style of play is to attack the game and try to catch their opponents on their heels. An attack mentality from shouldn’t be hindered by the escalated importance placed on their play in the defensive zone. Rochester shouldn’t change their game unless the results are showing changes are necessary.
They have the depth. They have the coaching. They have the fans support. Now it’s time for the Amerks to make a run at the Calder Cup.
Stay tuned for more Amerks coverage during their Calder Cup Playoffs run!