Friday night (11/24) the Amerks thoroughly dominated the Devils in a 10-3 victory in front of what has been the most loud and energetic crowd of the season. Almost everyone on the roster played a phenomenal game and it seemed as if every puck off an Amerk stick was destined for the top corner. Nylander had the best shot of the night to open the scoring with a wicked wrister right off the bar to beat the Devils netminder on the far post. Fasching continued to improve as well, netting two goals and earning himself the third star. On the other side the scoring column, Casey Nelson and Sahir Gill passed the puck very well finishing with 2 and 4 assists respectively. However, Nick Baptiste continues to underwhelm. In a game with 10 goals he only registered one assist, not making a strong case for a call up in a very crucial year of his development.
One player who did look like an NHLer was Evan Rodrigues. He was the night’s first star with two goals and two assists. He earned a definitive A+ in my gradebook for his performance.
Offensively Rodrigues played great. He followed up Nylander early on with a perfect top shelf snipe for the games second goal. It was nice to see his shot measure up with one of the clear blue chip prospects of the organization. But Erod’s second tally was created by the blue-collar work ethic he’s become know for while playing in Rochester. After sneaking behind the net with a man advantage, he gained net front position and notched a nice deflection goal. In addition, zone entry was fantastic. He made no neutral zone turnovers, and was always willing to sacrifice his body in the corner to dig out pucks. As good as Rodrigues played offensively, goal scoring is not likely to be his key contribution at the next level.
Defensively Erod is an absolute terror. His fore-checking gave the Devils issues the entire night. He created multiple turnovers in the offensive zone and was able to frustrate their defenseman consistently. Erod showed a bit of this ability as an agitator at the NHL level as well when goading Dion Phaneuf into an altercation last year. Still, the most impressive thing about Evan on defense is his motor. He is willing to lead a lung-busting fore-check for 60 minutes if that is what it takes to win. That attitude in combination with his speed, active stick, and tight angle control makes him a force to be reckoned with at any level.
I was very glad to have the opportunity to scout Erod in Rochester this year, because I do not feel that he is an AHL caliber player. I think he is destined for a long NHL career as a 3rd or 4th line energy forward. Potential top 6 players like Nylander and Bailey will get more attention because of their flashy playing style, but in my opinion Erod is the most pro ready prospect in Rochester and should be transitioning to Buffalo full time shortly.