**This Week’s Storylines**
VIEW FROM ABOVE
The Amerks are fresh off a perfect three-win weekend, during which they averaged five goals per game and outscored the opposition 16-4, including 11-1 on home ice. The three straight wins improved Rochester to 8-2-0-0 over its last 10 games, the second-best mark in the league over that span, while also moving the Amerks one point ahead of the Syracuse Crunch for sole possession of first place in the AHL’s North Division standings. The Crunch, however, do have a game in hand. The Amerks currently sits seven points ahead of third-place Toronto and have a 12-point lead on Belleville, who sit two points ahead of Utica for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division coming into the week. Rochester has now collected 35 out of a possible 48 points in its last 24 games. Among all AHL teams, only the Charlotte Checkers (39) have more wins than the Amerks (38), who are second overall in the AHL with a .644 points percentage.
TAYLOR NEARING ELITE COMPANY…AGAIN
By way of yesterday’s 6-1 victory over Binghamton, Rochester picked up its 38th win of the season to surpass last season’s win total (37) in 15 fewer games. Second-year head coach Chris Taylor is also approaching his first 40-win campaign as head coach, and by doing so, will become the first Amerks bench boss to lead his team to 40 or more wins in a season since Benoit Groulx(44) during the 2009-10 campaign. Early this season, Taylor reached the 30-win mark for the second straight year, becoming the first Amerks head coach to lead his team to 30 or more wins in each of his first two seasons behind the bench since Hall of Famer Randy Cunneyworth, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history.
RACE TO 20
After failing to produce a 20-goal scorer last season for just the second time in franchise history, the Amerks could potentially have five or more by the season’s end. Zach Redmond, Victor Olofsson and C.J. Smith all completed the feat earlier this season while Wayne Simpson has scored a career-high 19 and both Danny O’Regan and Taylor Leier have 18 coming into the week. The last time the Amerks had five 20-goal scorers in the same season was in 2000-01. The Amerks are one of just four AHL teams this season (Springfield, Syracuse and Utica) to have three different players with 20 or more goals.
OLOFSSON LEADING THE WAY
Coming off his eighth game-winning goal this past Saturday night in Binghamton, which is second-most in the league behind only teammate Zach Redmond, forward Victor Olofsson leads the club in all offensive categories, including goals (23), assists (28) and points (51) in 58 games this season while being one of just three Rochester skaters to surpass the 40-point mark. A year after pacing the SHL with 27 goals, Olofsson became the first Amerk to reach the 50-point mark since Cole Schneider during the 2016-17 campaign with his second of two goals in Binghamton this past Saturday. Olofsson, who earned CCM/AHL Player of the Month honors for October, is tied for 14th in the AHL in power-play assists (15) while ranking 18th among the league’s top point-getters in overall scoring. He hasn’t gone more than four straight games without a point all season.
With 18 points (5+13) over his last 13 games, which includes six multi-point efforts during that span, Redmond has scored a career-high 21 goals through 50 games, including 10 on the power-play, good enough for 10th in the league in that category. Redmond, who is currently averaging just under a point-per-game and had an AHL-best nine-game point streak to end the month of October, continues to lead all AHL defensemen with 48 points while his 21 goals and 177 shots are also the most by an AHL blueliner this season. In addition, his nine game-winning goals are tops in the AHL.
CAREER-YEAR FOR C.J.
C.J. Smith has been piling up the points on an absolute torrid pace. With another assist Friday night against Bridgeport and his 21st goal of the season Sunday afternoon versus Binghamton, the second-year pro has amassed a whopping 31 points (15+16) over his last 27 games dating back to Dec. 5, having been held scoreless just six times over that span. He also posted a season-long nine-game point streak in that time. Smith is just one of three Amerks skaters to reach the 40-point plateau this season having already established career-highs in both goals (21) and points (48) while tying a personal-best 27 assists in 10 fewer games (46) from his rookie campaign a year ago. Additionally, his plus-18 on-ice rating leads all Rochester forwards.
A WEDGE-WALL BETWEEN THE PIPES
Scott Wedgewood,who has won seven of his last eight and 15 of his last 20 games, collected his 24th win of the season Sunday afternoon as he made 18 saves. With his 24th victory, Wedgewood established a new pro career-high in wins as he boasts a 24-10-2 record in 38 games for Rochester this season. The sixth-year netminder, who previously won a season-long five straight to close out the month of October, has allowed one goal-against or less in seven of his last 12 starts, stopping 303 of 324 shots he faced. Over that span, he’s posted a 7-3-1 record with a 1.74 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He comes into week tied for third among all AHL goaltenders in shutouts (4) while his career-high 24 wins are four off the league lead coming into week.
At 19-6-3-1, Rochester has the second-best road record in the AHL and have the second-most regulation wins away from home with 19 behind only Charlotte. The Amerks also have the fewest regulation road losses in the AHL this season with six, having collected at least one point in 23 of their 29 contests away from The Blue Cross Arena. Coming into the week, the Amerks have won 13 of their last 19 road contests and five straight.
Coming into this week, Rochester’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot for the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs is 15. Of the remaining 15 games, nine are outside the Flower City while six will be played as part of two different stretches of three games in three nights. Rochester will play 12 contests against North Division opponents, which includes three more against Syracuse and two with Binghamton.