To say the Rochester Americans are shorthanded would be a massive understatement.
The list of missing bodies includes: Kevin Porter, Matt Ellis, Alexander Sulzer, Brayden McNabb, Johan Larsson (call ups) Mike Zigomanis, Jamie Tardif, Rasmus Ristolainen (World Juniors) and Frederick Roy (illness).
Before we get to the game, a quick and odd note: Ristolainen will not join the team until after Friday despite winning the World Juniors last Sunday. The hold up is...? From head coach Chadd Cassidy's comments, it didn't seem to be Polar Vortex related.
Back to the game...
Quick math: The Amerks are missing players who combined for 41 goals.
They've been short like this for three games: They beat Utica, then lost to Hershey. On Wednesday night the Amerks played an ugly, flat game at in a 3-1 loss at Blue Cross Arena against the Binghamton Senators.
The lowlights included:
-Two penalties taken by both Colin Jacobs and Joel Armia. Jacobs' were both in the offensive zone.
-The unquestioned worst goal of the season allowed by Matt Hackett
-Said bad goal being scored after most of the Amerks quit skating as they waited for time to expire in the second period
-34 shots against, 17 for
-A player the Amerks signed on a PTO Brayden Irwin leading them in shots
-Attempted zone exits (poor), puck battles (lost most), “dirty area” scoring chances (none)
Captain Drew Bagnall and coach Chadd Cassidy both expressed disappointment in the team's effort after the game.
But talented players in hockey don't struggle with effort. They don't stop playing with 1.4 seconds left in a period, they don't get pushed off the puck by players six inches shorter and they don't avoid the front of the net. That's what the Amerks did Wednesday night.
They won't be this bad forever, especially when the get Ristolainen, Tardif and Zigomanis back. Until then, they can only hope to squeeze blood from a stone, get a bounce or two and get a strong goaltending performance.
The lone highlight was Phil Varone's slick wrist-shot goal. He fooled the Bsens' D into thinking he would drop pass to Armia, then found open ice and beat Binghamton's netminder.
-Jamie Tardif should return soon. Maybe Friday.
-Zigomanis is farther away from returning from his upper body injury
-If the Sabres trade Miller, the deal will need to include a goalie. Matt Hackett needs quite a bit more time in the minors. His physical game is developed, but makeup is questionable.
-Joel Armia won't be seeing Buffalo any time soon either. His inconsistent defensive play/effort, lack of puck-battle victories, inability to get to the front of the net, propensity for getting shots blocked are a pretty sure sign he'll be in Roch for the remainder of the season and maybe beyond. Don't freak out, he's only 20. But he needs time.
-Cassidy raved about Dan Catenacci's game in the Spengler Cup, but whatever momentum he built there hasn't carried back across the ocean. The team needs more production from him if they're going to weather this storm
-Chad Ruhwedel is another player who is going to have to step up for this team to win. He made several mistakes, including on the second goal, that were head-scratching.
-Phil Varone and Luke Adam were forced to kill penalties all night and weren't really given a chance to create stretches of 5v5 play. They were among the few who played up to par. Adam got an assist on Varone's goal