The Amerks are 1-1 coming into tonight’s game against the Binghamton Senators. They scored an impressive (albeit unimpressive) overtime win against Syracuse at home on Friday, and then lost in Toronto on Saturday.
Here is what I expect to see on the ice tonight.
The Senators are not an overly impressive team on paper. Ottawa has not stocked the team with veterans, and there are no A1 superstar prospects on the roster. At least, none that will play.
First Second-round draft pick and Rochester native Shane Prince has a bad knee and is going to miss his homecoming game.
Bingo DOES have two solid goaltenders on their roster: Robin Lehner carried the team to their Calder Cup championship 2 seasons ago, and big Ben Bishop was acquired from St Louis last season to be the heir apparent to the goaltending job in Ottawa. Either of them could steal a game on any given night.
The Amerks have had two glaring problems over the first two games. First, the Amerks couldn’t keep up with Syracuse or Toronto. Both teams seemed to skate circles around us, keeping the puck and shooting at will. I don’t see Bingo as having the same team speed and puck control ability, so the Amerks should match up better. If Coach Rolston has been driving this home in practice, the Amerks should dominate the puck tonight.
Secondly, penalties have crushed the Amerks, giving up 5 power play goals on 15 opportunities. 15 penalties over 2 games is way too many to take, and the penalty killers / goaltending need to do a better job. They NEED to stay out of the penalty box.
Here are the lineup changes I’d like to see tonight:
Connor Knapp in for David Leggio. Knapp needs to get some AHL experience, and what better time than in a non-divisional game against a weaker opponent. Lets see what he has.
Someone needs to take Corey Tropp’s spot in the lineup. The two candidates right now would be Kevin Sundher or Frederick Roy, and I’m going to lean towards Roy. He seems to have impressed in both development camp and Amerks training camp, and good thing seem to follow him. I won’t guess how Tropp’s injury will affect the Amerks lines.
Finally, I would give Nick Crawford a look over TJ Brennan tonight. Brennan has not been good in the first two games. He got beat pretty badly a couple of times on Friday vs Syracuse, leading to at least 1 goal, and two of Toronto’s three power play goals on Saturday came while Brennan was sitting in the penalty box (once for taking a penalty after there was already a delayed call against Toronto). Meanwhile, Crawford has been very solid when given a chance, and deserves a shot in the gameday lineup.
I would never call an October game “must win”, but this is a team that needs to establish its identity, and a dominant game tonight would go a long way towards doing that.