The Rochester Americans look to stave off elimination tonight as they host the Toronto Marlies in game three of the AHL playoff series at 7:05 p.m.
Tonight’s game will almost certainly prove challenging, but nothing is impossible.
First, let’s take a look at why the odds may not exactly be in Rochester’s favor:
- The most obvious reason: The Americans are down 2-0 in the series. Rochester has to win the next three games in order to make it through this series alive and move on to round two. It can be done, but it won’t be easy.
- Rochester won just one of 10 meetings during the regular season and were outshot by a margin of 337-269 during that time. They had one goal in six of the ten meetings, while Toronto had three or more goals in eight of the matchups.
- In the past two seasons, the Amerks have won four of 25 games against the Marlies, going back to October 22, 2011.
- As a franchise, the Americans haven’t won a playoff series since 2005.
Despite all of that, Rochester simply needs a win tonight to push the series to game four and to avoid being swept – and they can do it by focusing on a few key aspects of their game.
- Penalties: The referees weren’t light on their whistles in the first two games. Although Rochester was mostly able to kill their penalties without too much damage, putting themselves in a shorthanded situation so often can’t be very helpful – even if they can score shorthanded every once in a while. The Amerks are facing a team they’ve already had difficulty against, so throwing the Marlies an extra bone probably isn’t the greatest idea.
- Goaltending: David Leggio faced just 17 shots in game one of the series, but he allowed five goals, which may have simply been the product of being unprepared for that low of a shot count. Empty net goals also seem to be a demon against the Americans, who have allowed five in the last four games against Toronto.
- Shots, Shots, Shots: The Marlies outshot the Americans in seven of the ten regular season meetings between the teams. Rochester has come back during the playoffs and has outshot Toronto 59-38 in the two games so far. Although shot totals don’t actually count towards anything, it can’t hurt to pepper the net with pucks once in a while.
Tonight’s game is bound to be an interesting one, particularly after the bounty of physical moments in Sunday’s game. Roughing, interference, fighting, and lots of trash-talking is bound to spill over into tonight’s meeting, particularly with the late misconducts thrown out in game two.
Another goal for Rochester in tonight’s game is to watch a few key players for the Marlies. Greg Scott had four goals in game one but failed to get on the scoresheet in the second meeting. Jerry D’Amigo, Amerks killer of the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs, has a goal and three assists in the series.
Rookie Zemgus Girgensons had a pair of goals in game one, while newcomer Johan Larsson notched a pair of assists in the same game. Cody McCormick has one goal, while Alex Biega and Mark Mancari have one assist each.
Mancari leads the Americans team with seven shots in the two games.
Even with all the history and preparations, there are still a lot of questions heading into tonight’s game. Will it be Leggio or Hackett in net tonight for the Rochester Americans? (We assume it’ll be Drew MacIntyre in net for the Marlies — by the way, have you seen his save from game one?!) Will Maxime Legault return to the lineup? He was pulled out in favor of Mikhail Grigorenko for Sunday’s game, and while we know Grigorenko is playing tonight, it’s possible someone else could be pulled for Legault to return to his spot. How about Frederick Roy or Dan Catenacci?
The biggest question: will history repeat itself, or can the Rochester Americans rally back for a win tonight to force game four? Check it out tonight as the teams face off at 7:05 p.m. at the Blue Cross Arena.