2013 Calder Cup Playoff Preview, Round 1: Toronto Marlies (2) vs Rochester Americans (7)
“We go tonight – What are you waiting for?” (Sleeperstar, We Go Tonight (Say It Again))
Do you feel like you’ve read this before? Because I feel like I’ve written it before …
Rochester managed to clinch before the end of the season this year, but not by much, as they pulled it off on Saturday, April 20, in a 5-1 stomping of the Hamilton Bulldogs. To be fair, though, Hamilton is at the bottom of the league, and it was a game that Rochester should have (and did) win. Lucky for us, the Amerks will once again square off in the first round against the Toronto Marlies. The important stuff first! Again, the AHL plays a 76 game season and the first round of the playoffs is a best-of-five instead of a best-of-seven. The series will begin in Toronto on Saturday, April 27. Here’s what the first round will look like for Rochester:
Game 1: 4/27 Rochester @ Toronto (3pm)
Game 2: 4/28 Rochester @ Toronto (3pm)
Game 3: 5/1 Toronto @ Rochester (7pm)
Game 4: 5/2 Toronto @ Rochester (7pm) (if necessary)
Game 5: 5/4 Rochester @ Toronto (3pm) (if necessary)
The Amerks and Marlies faced off ten times in the 2012-13 season, with the chips not really falling in Rochester’s favor this season – Rochester’s record against the Marlies was a stellar 1-7-1-1, scoring 19 goals to Toronto’s 35. No, you read that right. I don’t even know what to say about that, guys. It’s pretty godawful. However (more on this later), I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, and I truly believe the playoffs are a “new season” for every team. Toronto averaged 32.7SOG/game to Rochester’s 27.7SOG/game. Rochester scored 7 power play goals to Toronto’s 8, and both teams managed 116 PIM – which is not counting a 10 minute misconduct issued to Toronto’s Dylan Yeo during the April 19 game for abuse of officials.
Let’s face it – Toronto has had our number all season. Rochester needs to come out, guns blazing, and not be defeated before they even hit the ice. They can, and have, beat Toronto. Half of the games were decided by one goal. David Leggio, likely to be the starter for all playoff games, needs to get out of his own way and the team in front of him needs to pull their heads out of their behinds and play hockey. The likely start for Toronto? The one and only Drew MacIntyre. It’s always a former Amerk, eh? The Amerks also needs to GET SHOTS ON NET. Pretty simple concept, boys: You can’t score unless you shoot. I know. Crazy. In their last two games against Toronto, Rochester managed 15 and 18 SOG to Toronto’s 40 and 39. I wish I was kidding.
Perhaps most importantly, and this really hasn’t been a major concern in Rochester, but I’m going to say it anyways, is having the crowd behind them. I know a lot has been said here and in other arenas about the fan base and crowds involved with the parent team of this club. We’ve been lucky in Rochester – I haven’t heard a boo yet. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t heard the negative comments about how there is NO WAY WE CAN BEAT TORONTO. If that’s how you feel, sure. You’re welcome to feel that way. I can’t stop you, and I’m not trying to. What I would like to ask, though, is that you keep it to yourself. There is no reason this team cannot beat Toronto. None. Not even one. It’s the Playoffs! And, not to be cheesy, but if you’re not with them, you’re against them, so go ahead and wear your Marlies sweater to the game, Benedict. I had the pleasure of traveling to Hamilton for the final Amerks game of the regular season and the Bulldogs last home game. That crowd was into the game like it was OT of game 7 of the finals. I was so impressed and so blown away. That’s what this team needs on May 1, no matter what the outlook is at that point. And if I hear you in the hallways of the arena being all negative and junk, I’ll shank you (no, I won’t).
As always, I’ll keep you posted on Twitter of the series’ progress, and I hope to see you at Game 3! Let’s pack the house, get loud, and bring home a Calder Cup! LET’S GO AMERKS!!