All that is left for the Buffalo Sabres today is locker clean out day at First Niagara Center. For a few players – they get to miss out on their first professional locker clean out, because they are eligible to play in the Calder Cup playoffs, which the Rochester Americans open up tonight in Toronto.
Its a mirror image of last season – the second place Toronto Marlies facing off against the seventh place Rochester Americans. Rochester is hoping that this time their fortunes change. Last year they were swept by the Marlies in the first three games of the series. They were 1-7-1-1 against the Marlies this year in the regular season.
The Rochester Americans have a long playoff tradition, but have not been able to win a series since the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs, when they swept the Hamilton BullDogs.
This year the Toronto Marlies won’t have the help of their top prospects playing in a Toronto Maple Leafs Sweater; as the Leafs made the NHL playoffs for the first time in a dogs age. Rochester will be getting rookies Mark Pysyk and Brian Flynn back along with Mikhail Grigorenko who will be making his AHL debut after his NHL debut – as the Buffalo Sabres can now safely and legally deposit him in the NHL to get some more experience.
The Calder Cup playoffs are being televised, and today’s 3PM matinee in Toronto will be carried on the Time Warner Sports Channel.
It might take lightning in a bottle to get past the Marlies in the first round – but the Rochester Americans will take just any help they can get. The Amerks will try to recreate their 5-1 drumming of the Marlies back on Feb 1st as they try to win in the best of three series.
A word of advice that I can offer comes from the lips of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, when he last saw the ice in a playoff contest:
They say you have to win four, they don’t tell you which four.
Well Rochester – you have five chances, and you only have to win three; it doesn’t matter which three, just go out there and get it done. Winning even three might be hard for the Americans, who have lost 12 of the last thirteen meetings with the Toronto Marlies.
Amerks goalie David Leggio will have to be on the top of his game. In his fifth pro season since coming on as an undrafted free agent, the Rochester Americans MVP of 2012-2013 led the American Hockey League in wins, shots against, saves, and minutes. His save percentage ranked fourth in the American hockey league.