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DUFFER: Looking ahead to Game 3 in Toronto

Brian Duff shares his expectations for the Amerks' lineup on Wednesday

by Brian Duff @duffersabres /


The worst lead in hockey, right?

The Amerks might tend to agree based on how Easter Sunday at Blue Cross Arena quickly unraveled against the Marlies, leading to a 3-2 loss in overtime and the 2-0 series deficit they currently face.

But like trying to rebound from a thoroughly disappointing Game 1, there is again no sense in looking back too much on what happened in Game 2.

So, what can be done to change their course and ultimately change this series?

Should they change a lot or very little?

Hockey lends itself to subtle changes in these situations. 

One player in, one player out. 

A different winger for a different center, etc.

Rochester coach Chris Taylor has been fortunate to have consistency, and for the most part chemistry, from his top lines this year, so perhaps that puts a little hesitation into sweeping alterations.

Taylor Leier - who centered Remi Elie and Tage Thompson on Sunday - is day-to-day and did not practice Tuesday. At the very least that could open the door for Kyle Criscuolo to have a more prominent offensive role than what his fourth line duties were in Game 2.

Thompson, C.J. Smith, and Rasmus Asplund each have nine shots on goal to lead the team. All three play on different lines. That's balance. 

But it hasn't translated into any goals for the Victor Olofsson-Asplund-Danny O'Regan line, and Olofsson, despite a multitude of posts, has officially registered only two shots in two games.

After spending the entire season together, do you break them up in Game 79?

Probably not. 

But as a line, the team-wide desire to get deeper into the blue paint has to mean more pucks being funneled to and through Olofsson to increase the likelihood of success.

This of course applies on the power play as well, which was trending the right way through their first two opportunities in Game 2, only to regress on their third and final look. I would personally love to see Thompson and Olofsson out there together, but we shall see.

Taylor and his players know they've had a decided edge in play and controlled zone time over the bulk of the first two games. They've also had tremendous success on the road and in Toronto.

I'll be surprised if we see significant personnel changes Wednesday.

I'll be more surprised if we don't see a different result.

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