VIEW FROM ABOVE
Rochester comes into the week riding a six-game point streak (5-0-0-1), the longest active in the Eastern Conference, and have won six of its last nine games, with all six wins coming against North Division opponents. With Saturday's come-from-behind win against Utica, the Amerks have earned 23 out of a possible 32 points through their first 16 games of the season, putting them tied with the Toronto Marlies for the top spot in the AHL's North Division. The Marlies, however, have a game in hand on the Amerks entering this week.
One of the biggest factors attributed to Rochester's early season success is the fact that the Amerks have outshot their opponents in all but two games so far this season, including a season-high 50 shots in Springfield back on Oct. 27. The Amerks come into the week ranked third in the AHL in total shots (542) and are averaging 33.38 shots per game, the most in the Eastern Conference. Going into last Friday, the Amerks were the only team in the league to have outshoot their opponent through the first 14 games of the 2019-20 campaign.
LENDING A HAND
The Amerks saw the departure of their off their top forwards to Buffalo this week as Curtis Lazar, Rasmus Asplund and Tage Thompson all earned recalls to the Sabres. Lazar made an immediate impact in his debut for Buffalo, scoring his first goal as a Sabre on Thursday against Carolina. Asplund then made his NHL debut two nights later in Buffalo's 4-2 win over Ottawa, becoming the seventh different Sabre this season to make his NHL debut, and Thompson joined the Sabres in Chicago for their Sunday evening matchup against the Blackhawks. It was Thompson's first game back with the Sabres since appearing in 65 games with the big club last season prior to joining the Amerks in March.
TEAM AND LEAGUE LEADERS
Despite being held off the scoresheet five times so far this season, Thompson has totaled 23 points (14+9) over his last 27 games with the Amerks dating back to last season, including the two goals he scored in the first round of the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs against the Toronto Marlies. More impressively, Thompson has scored 12 goals in just 23 career regular-season games with Rochester, easily surpassing the total he set over a 30-game stint with San Antonio during his rookie season in 2017-18. His 67 shots are second in the AHL. The third-year pro has a share of the team lead in points (12) and ranks second in the league with 64 shots on goal while averaging more than four shots per game. With five points (3+2) over his last six games, forward Jean-Sebastien Dea begins the week leading the Amerks in goals (7) through the first 16 games of the season. Dea, who had his first four-point effort since Apr. 6, 2019 back on Oct. 26 in Syracuse, has recorded 19 points (10+9) over his last 21 AHL contests dating back to last season. Coming off his second multi-point effort in three games, first-year forward Brett Murray is tied for ninth in scoring among all AHL rookies with nine points (2+7) in 11 games. Goaltender Andrew Hammond is tied for eighth among all netminders with six wins on the season.
THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
The Amerks come into the week owning three of the AHL's top point-producing defensemen in Zach Redmond, Casey Nelson and Lawrence Pilut, all of whom have nine points from the blueline. The start of the 2019-20 season is just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond, who's averaged nearly a point-per-game through his first 13 games of the season. The reigning Eddie Shore Award winner and two-time AHL All- Star has collected 10 points (2+8) in his last 18 games dating back to last season. Nelson and Pilut, too, are both playing at almost a point- per-game pace. Nelson is tied for sixth among AHL defensemen with three goals while his team- best plus-12 on-ice rating is tops in the league among all active blueliners.
Rochester's 3-2 overtime win last Friday night against Cleveland was the seventh game so far this season that went beyond regulation for the Amerks, the most behind only Hartford. The Amerks, who tied an AHL record during the 2017-18 season with 29 overtime games, are 3-1 in the bonus period this season and show a 1-2 record in the shootout.
MALONE MOVING UP
Third-year forward Sean Malone saw his career-long seven-game point streak come to a halt last Friday night, which was the third-longest in the AHL this season. After being held without a point in his first four games of the 2019-20 campaign, the West Seneca native has responded by recording four goals and four assists dating back to Oct. 19, a span of nine games.
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