After the Rochester Americans' 4-3 shootout loss to the Toronto Marlies on Saturday night, center Cody Hodgson said he will need a few games to get back up to game speed.
Could have fooled me.
Hodgson, who was paired with Marcus Foligno and Zemgus Girgensons, didn't show any signs of being out of shape despite being out since Nov. 2 with a broken hand.
With the Amerks down late in the third period, Hodgson led several strong rushes into the Marlies' zone, one of which ended with Foligno tipping in a Girgensons shot to give Rochester a 3-2 lead with 2:13 left.
“You work as hard as you can off the ice,” Hodgson said. “Obviously there's a different level to being game ready or in game shape. Overall I felt good conditioning wise. There's a lot of adjustments I have to make, still.”
Hodgson did not have a point in his comeback game, but coach Ron Rolston said he was impressed in his overall game.
“He was good,” Rolston said. “I thought he competed extremely hard and was very good for us tonight.”
Expect Girgensons to get the puck more often. The Amerks' rookie, who is the youngest player in the AHL, looked the most comfortable he's been all year when playing with the team's two most talented players.
“I thought he'd be out there making room for Marcus and Cody. With that, they're more of a puck possession line. Cody controls it and Marcus can control it and I'm sure it will be on Zemgus's stick a lot more.”
Girgensons hasn't scored many points this season – his assist on the late go-ahead goal was only his fifth in 19 games. However, he's spent much of his ice time with the third line. During Saturday night's shootout loss, he showed that he belongs in a more offensive role.
Luke Adam scored his fourth goal (and sixth point) in four games. Going back to his demotion from the Sabres last year, Adam had struggled to finish his scoring chances. He only scored four goals in 27 games with the Amerks last year, and before his four-goal stretch, the 6-foot-2 forward only had two in 17 games.
But he's played a big role in the Amerks getting five of a possible six points against three difficult opponents (Abbotsford, Lake Erie, Toronto).
Did his confidence waver?
“I'm sure it did,” Adam said. “It was disappointing coming down at the end of last year and not producing like I was used to in this league. Then starting this year, I was getting chances and they weren't going in. But I've gotten back to it and refocused.”
“He's going to the right places and he's working a lot harder,” Rolston said. “He's working a lot harder and getting to those places. If you track his goals the last four games, they've been within three-to-five feet of the net. You get there and you are going to score goals.”
Oddly enough, Adam wasn't originally in Lindy Ruff's dog house because of his offensive production, it was his weak effort on the defensive end.
“If you are going to be an NHL player you have to play at both ends,” Adam said. “Last year when I came down, I wasn't on the (score) sheet as much, but defense was something I focused on and thought I got better. I have to keep improving on that.”
When Adam scored on Saturday night, he was right in front of the net and received a “lucky bounce.” But the possession was started by a nifty spin move by Marlies' forward Will Acton.
“That's a confidence thing too,” he said. “I'm trying to hang onto the puck more and make plays.”
Mark Pysyk has had an up-and-down first three months of professional hockey, but on Saturday night he had his best offensive game with a goal and assist. He also finished the game plus-2.
“It started off a little shaky,” Pysyk said. “After missing the last game, it was a little tough to get back into it, but as the game went on I got more and more comfortable and got lucky on a few plays at the end.”
The “lucky play” was actually a quick reaction to jump up into the play. With the Amerks down Adam and Kevin Porter were charging toward the net. The puck bounced back to a trailing Pysyk, who sniped the top corner over goalie Ben Scrivens.
Pysyk now has 10 points in 23 games and is plus-5.
The Amerks are now 12-9-2 after the loss to Toronto. They have lost all four games to the Marlies.