A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD
Rochester opens the final full month of the 2019-20 campaign this week beginning on Wednesday, Mar. 4 with the intrastate rival Utica Comets visiting The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m. Following Wednesday's matchup, the Amerks hit the road for a pair of contests against the North Division-leading Belleville Senators on Friday, Mar. 6 and Saturday, Mar. 7. Both games start at 7:00 p.m. from CAA Arena.
Rochester has collected at least one point in 19 of the last 25 games against Utica dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign, going 13-6-2-4 over that span.
The Amerks have claimed at least one point in 10 of the first 16 meetings with the Senators dating back to the 2017-18 season. Rochester holds a record of 6-0-2-0 in the all-time road portion of the head-to-head series.
The Amerks, who earned at least one point in seven straight games going into Saturday's matchup with Syracuse, come into the week eight points back of Belleville for the top spot in the AHL's North Division standings with a game in hand on the Senators. Rochester also has a four-point lead on third-place Utica, but the Comets do have a game in hand on Rochester. HOME COOKING
On the strength of a 16-5-3-5 home record, Rochester is tied with Milwaukee for the second-fewest regulation losses in the AHL and have the fifth-most points on home ice (40). Only the Hartford Wolf Pack have fewer regulation losses at home this season. BYE BUSY FEBRUARY, HELLO MARCH
With the busiest month of the season officially behind them, the Amerks can now turn their attention onto the month of March. Rochester played a total of 14 games over a 29-day span in February, including a season-long six-game homestand during which the Amerks posted a 3-0-2-1 record and picked up nine out of a possible 12 points. With the club opening its final full month of the season, eight of the next 10 games will be played solely against North Division opponents, which includes a two-game road set north of the border against first-place Belleville and a pair versus the Marlies. The road matchup against Toronto is scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 17 at Scotiabank Arena. Overall, the club has six road games and six inside the Flower City over a 26-day stretch. AHEAD MITTELSTADT QUICKLY MAKING HIS MARK
After producing just one point through his first five games with the Amerks, Casey Mittelstadt has quickly evolved into one of Rochester's most consistent point-getters with 23 points (9+14) in 32 games for Rochester since being reassigned to the Amerks in December from the Buffalo Sabres. The former-first round selection has totaled 21 points (9+12) since the turn of the New Year and led all Amerks with 12 points (3+9) in 14 games during the month of February. Over his last nine appearances, the second-year pro has eight points on one goal and seven assists. SHARING THE CREASE
Anchored by the goaltending tandem of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, who is currently on recall with the parent Buffalo Sabres, the Amerks own one of the top defenses in AHL having allowed only 160 goals through 58 games this season, the ninth-fewest in the AHL coming into the week. The duo has also combined for six shutouts and rank among the AHL's leaders with 15 and 13 wins this season, respectively.
Hammond, who is 15-11-2 on the season, is tied for third among all netminders in shutouts after notching his fourth of the year back on Dec. 14 in a 5-0 win over Laval, a new career-high. With four shutouts through 31 games this season, he remains on pace to tie the franchise record for most shutouts in a season (8) set by Ryan Miller during the 2004-05 campaign.
Johansson, who earned his first NHL win in Buffalo's 2-1 victory over Winnipeg on Feb. 23, owns a career-best 13-3-3 record with two shutouts this season. Despite being on recall, he's tied for the fifth-best goal-against average in the league (2.19) and ranks fifth among all netminders with a .925 save percentage in 20 games. Dating back to Nov. 13, the 2020 AHL All-Star boasts an impressive 11-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.11 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in eight starts over that span. TEAM LEADERS
Jean-Sebastien Dea, who remains the only Amerk forward this season to reach the 30-point plateau, continues to pace the team in goals (15) and points (37) through 53 games. Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 103 shots on goal, has 16 points (5+11) in his last 23 games since the turn of the New Year, including five points (1+4) over his last seven games. He's now reached the 15-goal mark in each of the last five seasons dating back to the 2015-16 campaign when he scored a career-high 20 for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE
Rochester owns three of the AHL's top point-producing defensemen in Zach Redmond, Casey Nelson and Lawrence Pilut, all of whom have been mainstays on Rochester's blueline this season.
The 2019-20 season is just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond, who hasn't gone more than five games without a point all season. The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award winner is presently tied for 15th in scoring amongst all defensemen with 30 points and is also tied for 13th with a team-high 25 assists, 10 of which have come on the power-play.
Pilut, who's back with big club on his fifth recall of the season, has 17 points (5+12) over his last 27 AHL games dating back to Nov. 15. Having already set a new AHL career-high in goals (6), the former SHL Defenseman of the Year is also on pace to set a new mark in points.
Nelson is tied for eighth among all blueliners with a team-best plus-19 on-ice rating through 44 games this season.
Jacob Bryson is seventh among all first-year defensemen with a plus-11 on-ice rating. Bryson, whose first two professional goals came in back-to-back games on Feb. 19 and 21, is also tied for ninth among all rookie blueliners with 21 points (2+19) in 57 games while his 19 assists are ninth-most.
- >Rochester's 3-2 shootout loss last Wednesday against Utica was the 17th game so far this season that went beyond regulation for the Amerks, the most in the AHL. The Amerks, who tied an AHL record during the 2017-18 season with 29 overtime games, are 6-4 in the bonus period this season and show a 2-5 record in the shootout. Of the 17 games played beyond regulation, 11 have been played at home with the Amerks going 3-8. Conversely, Rochester is 5-1 on the road in games. Coming into this week, five of the last eight games for Rochester have needed overtime, including four straight at home from Feb. 19 to Feb. 26.
TAYLOR JOINS ELITE COMPANY
By way of Rochester's 3-2 overtime win over Lehigh Valley on Feb. 21, the Amerks reached the 30-win mark for the fourth consecutive season and third straight under head coach Chris Taylor. Taylor became the first Amerks head coach since Randy Cunneyworth, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history, to lead his team to 30 or more wins in each of his first three seasons behind the bench.
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