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The Amerks Are Going To The Playoffs! (NSFW)

04/25/14

“I have been to every place … I’m just trying to find my way.” (Nine Inch Nails, Find My Way)

 

The Amerks are heading into the Calder Cup Playoffs! This is both exciting and not a surprise, despite the constant rollercoaster of players leaving town in order to have the Sabres be able to bench a full team. The best is yet to come, however …

THE AMERKS ARE NOT PLAYING THE TORONTO MARLIES IN THE FIRST ROUND. Thank God and it’s about fucking time. The Amerks finished seventh in the Western Conference and will meet the Chicago Wolves in the best-of-five series. The series will kick off in Rochester. Wait. What’s that, you say? How does the seventh place seed get to start on home ice, you ask? The way that the AHL has adapted their playoff schedule includes shaving the first round to a 5-game series instead of 7 and adjusting the way that the teams play each other. For teams that are close in proximity, it is a 2-2-1 format, with the higher seed getting home ice advantage. For teams that are NOT close in proximity, including Rochester/Chicago, it is a 2-3 format, and the higher seed is given the option to start on the road or at home. Chicago has opted to start on the road, likely figuring that they will close out the series on home ice and send Rochester packing.

 

The Amerks and Wolves split their season series a game apiece. Rochester leads the lifetime matchup, 8-6. Although the Wolves come into Friday night’s start on a 4-game winning streak, the Amerks have lost only two of their last nine. Coincidentally, those are the only two games that hotshot goaltender Andrey Makarov did not start. Makarov has quietly slid into the starting role in Rochester, with ALL other Amerks goaltenders starting and then getting injured in Buffalo. He came in at the end of a long losing skid and, quite honestly, we all looked at each other and said “great. This kid’s never played in the AHL and we can kiss our playoff hopes goodbye.” Makarov has done nothing but prove us – and me – wrong night after night. But it’s not only his magic in net. Despite the continual call-ups and Buffalo’s best efforts to fuck this season right in the ear, this team has gelled in a way that I haven’t seen any squad in recent history. The passes are spot on. The hustle is there. These are hockey players who want to win, and there’s a lot to be said for that. I watch NHL Playoffs – have you see the Columbus/Pittsburgh series? It’s not simply that Marc-Andre Fleury is hot garbage come playoff time and that Dan Bylsma couldn’t make lines to save his career (foreshadowing?! ), it’s that Columbus WANTS to win. These Amerks? THEY WANT TO WIN. I’m not saying that alone is enough to snag them some shiny silver, but it will certainly take them far – hopefully a lot further than they have gone in the last two years. 

The Amerks will host the Chicago Wolves April 25 and 26 in Rochester. The best of five series will then move to Allstate Arena, in the Chicago suburbs, for Game 3 on Thursday, May 1 at 8:05pm. Game 4, if necessary, is May 2 at 8:35pm, and Game 5, if necessary, is May 4, at 4pm. As always you can catch me at the game and I’ll be bringing you updates and hot takes on Twitter. Let’s go, Amerks – let’s bring something shiny home!! 

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