Amerks Look To Avoid Repeat of an Attrocious Opening Night
Amerks fans that missed portions of Friday night’s game due to long security and concession lines were the lucky ones. Following a playoff showing last season and lots of roster changes in the off-season, expectations were high. The Amerks failed to deliver, losing 6-2 to the Charlotte Checkers. While fans in Buffalo booed the Sabres for a poor showing on opening night, fans in Rochester, who also had to deal with poor arena management, simply got out of their seat and left. Some went to find the dinner they couldn’t purchase in the arena. Some went home. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that nothing went right on opening night, on or off the ice.
C.J. Smith scored early in the 2nd period with an impressive shot on a lead pass at the offensive blue line from Kyle Criscuolo. Lawrence Pilut, who had an assist on C.J. Smith’s goal, scored late in the 2nd. Neither goal was enough to neutralize the Charlotte Checkers powerhouses Janne Kuokkanen (2G, 1A), Nicolas Roy (2G, 1A), and Andrew Poturalski (1G, 3A). By the mid-point of the 3rd period it was like the Amerks were playing an NHL team — an NHL team that was sitting back to avoid embarrassing the opponent they have to face again the following night.
So what went wrong? Everything. In the offensive zone the Amerks defense was jumping into the play rather than guarding the blue line. In the defensive end Amerks forwards weren’t supporting defense. The Amerks rush was a hot mess (hotter than the food being served at the concession stands!). The Amerks constantly turned over the puck. To top it all off the entire roster avoided physical contact like they were Alexander Nylander in the playoffs. Chris Taylor said as much in his post-game interview (minus my colorful description about physicality).
Taylor isn’t quite sure what he saw on the ice but it wasn’t what he’s been coaching. Fans aren’t quite sure what happened anywhere in the arena. One thing is certain — if Saturday night’s game is a repeat of Friday night, it will set a disastrous tone for the 2018-19 season.