The Amerks were able to hang on by the skin of their teeth tonight against the Toronto Marlies for a 3-2 victory. The Amerks played an amazing first period, but after that they didn't look very sharp. Tonight's game was flooded with special teams play: It honestly felt like there was no 5 on 5 hockey played in the second frame. Dan Lambert decided to play 5 forwards on the power play all night. They went 1/7 as a result. The team had difficulty getting set up and neither Rodrigues or Schneider looked good on the point tonight. Il give Coach Lambert a bit of credit for being creative without Fedun and Nelson, but it just didn’t work. The difference tonight was the Baptiste-O'Rielly-Schneider line. I expected them to dominate, and they didn't disappoint. The trio finished with 5 points, scoring all 3 Amerk goals. I was most impressed by the play of Nick Baptiste. I think his days in Rochester are numbered at this point. His 10 goals lead the team so far this year and he is one of three Amerks to average over a point a game (others Captain Cal and Cole Schneider).
Tonight I scouted Cole Schneider, and he turned in a very solid performance. It was exactly the kind of game I have come to expect from him. He passed the puck exceptionally well, netted a nice opening goal, and played for the most part, mistake free hockey. However he didn't quite earn an A. I'm going to give him a B+. Schneider was thrust into a new role when playing the point tonight on the power play and I don’t think he did a very good job. He only skated the puck entering the zone one time and it resulted in a turnover. Overall I would have liked to see Schneider play a more aggressive offensive game.
Schneider still played a very good offensive game tonight. He had countless sparkling cross-ice passes that split defenders and landed perfectly on teammates sticks. More importantly he was able to hit them in stride, creating odd man rushes. However I was a little surprised that after he made his outlet passes he didn't skate very hard into the zone and crash the net. Honestly he seemed a bit complacent in allowing O'Rielly and Baptiste to try and make plays on their own. In addition I think he needs to shoot the puck more. On the power play he waited way too long to shot the puck and when he did it didn't get though to the net; making all the hard net front work Muzito-Bagenda did tonight worthless.
Cole played an amazing two way hockey game tonight. He made numerous fore-checking plays in the offensive zone to turn the puck over. Then he did a good job finding sticks quickly setting up a few very good chances. Schneider tracked his man pretty well in the defensive zone and wasn't afraid to take him to the boards on a few occasions. There was one time he got caught in a little deep and failed to close down the point on a shot, but Ullmark was more than up to the task (as usual). Schneider's breakout passes were exceptional all night so the Amerks top line wasn't forced to spend too much time in their own half.
To say that the Amerks missed Schneider during his call up is a gross understatement. He is by far one of the most pivotal cogs in the Rochester offense. His playmaking ability is irreplaceable for the Amerks and, they are not the same team without him. I would like to see Schneider shoot a bit more often and crash the net a sooner. Outside of that I don’t think Cole has too much to work on. I think he could be very effective setting up line mates at the NHL level right now, but if he is ever going to truly earn a place at the next level he needs to be a bit more aggressive.