Where to begin?
First, the Amerks have lost six of their last nine. In Friday night’s 4-1 loss, they weren’t much more than a chew toy for the super-talented Toronto Marlies.
After the team played its worst game of the year on Wednesday – a 4-2 loss to the awful San Antonio Rampage – we expected the Amerks to come out swinging. Instead, they were KO’d by the end of the first period.
The Marlies put 14 shots on goal and scored twice on goalie David Leggio, who was one of very few players who competed.“It could have been 5-0,” in the first period, head coach Ron Rolston said.
The Amerks’ picked-out-of-a-hat lineup is no doubt affected by the absence of NHL’er Cody Hodgson and first-round pick Zemgus Girgensons, but we’re not talking about Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri.
Players who were in the lineup included: Top prospects Marcus Foligno, Brayden McNabb and Mark Pysyk, last year’s leading scorer Phil Varone, one of the league’s leading defensive scorers T.J. Brennan, proven AHL scorers Mark Mancari and Kevin Porter and a player who scored 10 NHL goals last year in Luke Adam.
Yet somehow, the only Amerks goal came from the hard-working fourth-line grinder Max Legault.
In the second, Leafs prospect Matt Frattin scored his second of the night to put the Marlies up 3-0 – which, at the time, seemed like 10-0.
As the game went on, line combos switched from time to time without one having the least bit of chemistry. Earlier in the year, Adam, Foligno and Brian Flynn created chances. The next night they were broken up. Also, Nick Tarnasky, Rick Schofield and Frederick Roy were a tough line with some scoring touch. Again, broken up.
Oh, and former All-Star defenseman Drew Schiestel was playing forward.
You don't have to say much more about the depth of the organization at forward when Schiestel – a healthy scratch most of the year as a defenseman – is stuck up front while Jon Parker is a healthy scratch, Jacob Lagace is in the ECHL and Shawn Szydlowski is in the minor-league abyss of the CHL.
But there was no room for Derek Whitmore?
Maybe that’s unfair, but with the injuries to Hodgson and Girgensons, the Amerks have about five players up front who can actually score and two of them, Adam and Mancari, haven’t been finding the net. Mancari hasn’t scored a goal in 11 games and Adam has two in 15 games.
In the third period, the Amerks played with more urgency, but blew any chance at a comeback when they went down a man for four minutes after a double minor high-sticking penalty with just over five minutes left.
The Amerks are now 9-8-1-0 and sit in 11th place in the Western Conference. Their record should be better. Hodgson and Girgensons are expected to come back soon. That might be enough to keep them in the race, but the rest - including the coach - need to give more than they gave on Friday night. Otherwise, it wouldn't matter if they had Gretzky and Kurri.