A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD
Rochester begins another stretch of three games in four nights on Wednesday, Mar. 11 with the intrastate rival Binghamton Devils making their final trip of the regular season to The Blue Cross Arena at 7:05 p.m. Following Wednesday's matchup, the Amerks welcome back the Syracuse Crunch to the Flower City on Friday, Mar. 13 at 7:05 p.m. before closing out the weekend on Sunday, Mar. 15 against the Cleveland Monsters at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Amerks enter the matchup with points in 22 of the last 28 games against the Devils dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season while holding a 16-6-3-3 record during that span, which included a 10-game point streak.
After going 4-5-1-0 against the Crunch during the 2017-18 campaign, the Amerks are 12-7-1-1 in their last 21 contests against Syracuse.
Rochester holds a record of 29-7-4-4 over Cleveland since the start of the 2011-12 campaign and has earned a point in all seven games so far this season.
AMERKS AT A GLANCE
On the strength of back-to-back wins over the first-place Belleville Senators this past weekend, Rochester moved to within six points of the Senators for the top spot in the AHL's North Division standings with a game in hand. The Amerks, who have earned 15 out of a possible 22 points in their last 11 games, also hold a two-point lead over the Comets for second place in the Division, but the Comets do have a game in hand on Rochester coming into this week.
With a 16-6-3-5 home record, Rochester has the third-fewest regulation losses in the AHL and have the sixth-most points on home ice (40). Only the Hartford Wolf Pack and Milwaukee Admirals have fewer regulation losses (5) at home this season.
With the club opening its final full month of the season last week, five of the next seven games will be played solely against North Division opponents, which includes a home-and-home two-game set with the Toronto Marlies. The road matchup against Toronto is scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 17 at Scotiabank Arena. Overall, the club has four road games and five inside the Flower City to close out the month of March. 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 34 games for Rochester since being reassigned to the Amerks in December from the Buffalo Sabres. Mittelstadt has totaled 22 points (9+13) 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 12 games, the second-year pro has nine points on one goal and eight assists.
SHARING THE CREASE
Anchored by the goaltending tandem of veteran Andrew Hammond and third-year pro Jonas Johansson, who returned from his first-career recall to the Buffalo Sabres prior to Friday's game, the Amerks own one of the top defenses in AHL having allowed only 175 goals through 61 games this season, the 10th-fewest in the AHL coming into the weekend. The duo has also combined for six shutouts and rank among the AHL's leaders with 16 and 14 wins this season, respectively.
Hammond, who is 16-11-2 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 33 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 went 1-3-1 during his six-game stint with the Sabres, owns a career-best 14-3-3 record with two shutouts this season. He owns the fifth-best goal-against average in the league (2.18) and ranks sixth among all netminders with a .924 save percentage in 21 games. Dating back to Nov. 13, the Swedish netminder boasts an impressive 12-1-1 record with two shutouts, a 2.10 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage while allowing just two goals or less in nine starts over that span.
Jean-Sebastien Dea, who remains the only Amerk forward this season to reach the 30-point plateau, continues to pace the team in points (39) through 56 games. Dea, who is also second among all Amerks forwards with 113 shots on goal, has 18 points (5+13) in his last 26 games since the turn of the New Year, including seven points (1+6) over his last 10 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. The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award winner is presently tied for 20th in scoring amongst all defensemen with 30 points and is also tied for 18th with a team-high 25 assists, 10 of which have come on the power-play. His 159 shots rank second-most by a defenseman, trailing only San Antonio's Jake Wallman in that category.
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 11th among all blueliners with a team-best plus-18 on-ice rating through 47 games this season.
Jacob Bryson ranks seventh among all first-year defensemen with a plus-12 on-ice rating. Bryson, whose first two professional goals came in back-to-back games on Feb. 19 and 21 and first shorthanded marker came this past Friday, is also tied for eighth among all rookie blueliners with 25 points (4+21) in 60 games. The 22-year-old Bryson, who has points in three straight (2+1) games for the first time in his pro career, is ninth among all rookie defensemen with 21 assists.
- >Rochester's 3-2 shootout loss back on Feb. 26 against Utica was the 17th game so far this season that went beyond regulation for the Amerks, tied for most in the AHL with Hershey. 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. Coming into this week, five of the last 11 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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