Amerks: Second half evaluations

April 18, 2019 - 10:47 am
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The 2018-19 regular season has come to an end for the Rochester Americans with the team ending the season with a 46-23-5-2 record and 99 points in the standings.

The Amerks remained in the race for the top spot in the North Division for a majority of the season with the Syracuse Crunch, but ended up losing out on the division title by three points. However, Rochester's 99 points placed them third in the overall American Hockey League standings behind the Crunch (102 points) and the Charlotte Checkers (110 points).

After getting out to a 23-13-2-0 start in the first half of the season, Rochester finished out the second half of the season strong with a 23-10-3-2 record. Despite a good, but not great 21-14-2-1 record on home ice, the Amerks finished as the best road team in the AHL this season with a 25-9-3-1 record. Rochester's 25 wins also tied a franchise record set back in the 1998-99 season.

The 2018-19 season also marks the best finish by the Amerks since the 2006-07 season when the team went 48-30-1-1 and put up 98 points in the standings.

It was also a successful year offensively for the Amerks, finishing as a top-three scoring team in the AHL with 254 goals. This after being in the middle of the pack at the halfway point of the season with just 123 goals in 38 games. Only the Checkers (255) and the Crunch (264) had more goals scored as a team this season. However, Rochester had six different players to finish the year with 20-plus goals in a season. No other team in the AHL had more than five players to score 20 or more in a season.

The defense served admirably this season on the Amerks blue line, but towards the later part of the season saw a setback with some key injuries and call ups to the Buffalo Sabres. At the halfway point of the season, Rochester had only given up 111 goals, which was fifth in the AHL through 38 games. The final total saw the Amerks give up 218 total goals, but that still ranked them 12th in the league for the lowest total of goals-against.

Perhaps where the Amerks saw the most inconsistency with their game this season was with the special teams play. After a rough start to both the power play and penalty kill to start the season, both units rebounded near the midway part of the season and into the second half. However, each unit had its hiccups along the way and slipped a bit in the last part of the regular season. However, the Amerks still ended up finishing with the eighth-best power play in the AHL at a conversion rate of 20.4%, and the 12th-best penalty killing unit in the league with an 81.7% kill rate. 

In case you'd like to catch up on how the team has played in the first half of the season, you can check out the Amerks' first half evaluation here:

Here is how a number of the players graded out through the second half of the season:

 

* - No longer on active roster

  • Victor Olofsson - A

Games Played: 66
Goals: 30
Assists: 33
Plus/Minus: +12
PIM: 12
Shots: 193

What an impressive first year in North America for Victor Olofsson. The 23-year-old finishes his first season with the Amerks with 30 goals and 63 points in 66 games played. This comes after a campaign of 27 goals and 43 points in 50 games played last season in the Swedish Hockey League with Frölunda. He kicked off the season with a CCM/AHL Player of the Month of October honor with 15 points in 10 games. After a bit of a cool down period, Olofsson picked up his offensive play and continued to put up the production. As the season went on, his responsibilities grew with head coach Chris Taylor, and his ice-time also started to increase. His overall game blossomed in his first season in North America as he adjusted well to the change of lifestyle in Rochester. Olofsson's speed, overall skating, defensive play, and his offensive instincts all improved from Day 1, and it eventually earned him a look at the NHL level with the Sabres. When he came back. Olofsson was able to eclipse the 30-goal mark, making him the first Amerks player to hit that plateau since Thomas Vanek (42) and Jason Pominville (30) did so in the 2004-05 season. Olofsson also finished the year tied with Zach Redmond for the most game-winning goals in the American Hockey League with nine. The next closest player had four game-winning goals.

 

  • C.J. Smith - A

Games Played: 62
Goals: 28
Assists: 30
Plus/Minus: +26
PIM: 26
Shots: 207

It was a career-year for C.J. Smith with the Amerks, potting 28 goals and 58 points in 62 games. He took his game to another level this season, even though his production certainly could have been greater if he had some more luck on his side. A couple of times this season, Smith found himself in stretches where he was creating a ton of offensive chances for the Amerks, but was snake-bitten on more chances than others. Nonetheless, 28 goals in his second full season is not a bad total when he could have potentially had 30-35 goals. In addition, he has remained relatively healthy for the entirety of the season. Smith was, often times, Rochester's most productive offensive player this season, using his speed, puck protection and high hockey IQ to generate chances for himself and his fellow linemates. He led the Amerks with 207 shots on goal this season, and finished tied for the seventh-most shots in the AHL. Smith will need to continue to create chances as the playoffs are about to begin. The more he pushes and continues to work, the sooner the positive results.

 

  • Zach Redmond - A

Games Played: 58
Goals: 21
Assists: 29
Plus/Minus: +13
PIM: 34
Shots: 200

Zach Redmond's hot start to the season had him set to shatter the AHL record for goals by a defenseman in a season. After a bit of a cool down period, Redmond was able to set the Amerks' franchise record with goals by a defenseman in a season, breaking Rick Pagnutti's record of 18 set in the 1972-73 season. However, in that same game, Redmond suffered a lower-body injury that seemed to have lingering effects throughout the rest of the season. It was his start to the season that really helped spark plug the Amerks' uprise and continued success. Even without him in the lineup, the team was able to keep on producing and playing well, but the power play was what really took a hit with Redmond out. His 21 goals ended up being a league-high for goals by a defenseman this season, and his nine game-winning goals was tied with Olofsson for a league-high. Those numbers this season was good enough to earn him team honors as the Most Valuable Player, and league honors as the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman.

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