Tonight’s 4-1 collapse was one of the worst games Rochester played all year. After leading 1-0, the Senators scored four unanswered goals, snapping the Amerk’s three game home win streak. If O’Reilly had not been gifted an assist on what was a largely an individual effort, Baptiste-O’Reilly-Schneider would have gone their 3rd strait game without a point. The #1 line is a combined -11 over that stretch. Once again that lack of production filtered into special teams play. Rochester has now failed to score on 23 strait power plays. The lone bright spot of the night was the hard work of Justin Bailey, who scored the only goal. After a shaky start to the year, he is really starting to heat up.
Among the things to be disappointed about was the return of Tim Kennedy. Tonight his rating was a J, for jet-lagged. After traveling over 30 hours this weekend, and moving his family from Sweden on Thursday, it looked obvious he wasn’t prepared to play. His slow reactions were most evident in the face-off circle. He lost almost every draw he had tonight (most of them cleanly).
Offensively, Kennedy was never really able to get into the game. He very rarely found himself on the puck, and most passes to and from 95 and 19 were just out of reach. He was one of only four Amerks not to register a shot on goal. On the breakout he looked confused at times, like he didn’t know where to be. The one exceptional aspect of Kennedy’s performance was his fore-checking. He worked extremely hard to pursue the puck in the offensive zone. He was able to generate a few turnovers; and he always finished his checks. This was the first game I have seen all year that an Amerk has finished his checks consistently from the opening whistle to the final horn. Obviously he doesn’t know the type of hockey that is expected of a Rochester forward.
In the defensive zone he was wildly inconsistent. He showed flashes of a heady, two-way, veteran hockey player. He was very good in support of teammates on the boards. He was able to pick the puck out from skates on numerous occasions and start the breakout safely. He also made a smart move choosing not to play a puck that Geiger knocked down with his hand; avoiding a whistle. However, he got caught puck watching out of position way to often. As a result, he wasn’t able to get out quick enough to block shots from the point. He made a crucial error leading to the first Senators goal. During a delayed penalty, he had an opportunity to win the puck along the boards. After failing to do so, he did not pressure the pass well enough, allowing Rumble to slowly glide down the slot and pick out his shot.
After spending the holiday break re-acclimating himself to the Rochester area, I’m sure Kennedy will play much better. The Amerks will need him to help mentor the very young roster. If he is going to make an on-ice impact, Kennedy will have to improve on what he showed in the faceoff circle dramatically. Unfortunately he can’t help Buffalo at the next level because his NHL rights belong to the Hurricanes.