Hamilton faces off against their divisional rival the Rochester Americans once more in an early morning (10 AM EST) game. Hamilton takes on the Amerks for the 4th time this season. Hamilton has gone 1-1-1 against Rochester thus far, with a 7 goals for and 8 goals against during those games. Last time they met Hamilton won 4-3.
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Rochester and Hamilton are very different teams. Both are about even on special teams but Hamilton’s PK is strong and its PP weak while vice versa for Rochester. They get about equal shots per game but Rochester has converted on half again more of them and thus has a strong offense (2nd in the league) while Hamilton’s is weak (24th). Hamilton holds a positive shot differential but no where near as good a one as they had before back to back games against the Crunch, while Rochester sports a positive goal differential.
This verision of the Amerks lineup is an easier one to face that the squad that beat the Bulldogs in their first two matchs. Amerk’s top center Cody Hodgson, who dominated the Bulldogs is out with a hand injury. Without him, the most dangerous Sabre’s prospect the American’s can ice is likely power winger Foligino, who has 14 points in 12 games. Overall the American’s are strong offensively based off some top forward and defenseman talent, but they’ve been defensively weak this season and look to remain that way going forward.
Its not really clear yet how the Bulldog’s intend to cope with the loss of Blake Geoffrion to go along with Louis Leblanc’s injury. Without those two as well as the injured Greg Pateryn, the Bulldogs are down to dressing one of Hagel, Avtsin or Stesjkal as the 12th forward.
Robert Mayer has been realitively hot lately for a team that has failed to produce meaningful scoring. Expect the CHL line to find their grove again now that they are no longer facing the Syracuse Crunch. Gaberiel Dumont is the most likely forward to take Geoffrion’s place as center of the other offensive line. Also interesting to see what happens with Nattinen, he’s both the best choice to be the 4th center and the final plausible top nine forward remaining in the depth chart to play 3rd line RW.
With Geoffrion and Leblanc injured, Brendan Gallagher becomes the only forward in the lineup with better than a point in every 2 games scoring pace. It also means that only 76% of their goals scored so far this season are in the lineup (16 of 21), particularly worrying for an already weak offensive team.