I could swear it wasn’t this close.
I mean shots, first and foremost, but you could say the same about the game.
The players met for, ballpark, 10 minutes after the game. The coaches’ doors were shut, too, awhile. There was no rah-rah waiting behind those closed doors.
Pretty sure they get it.
“We had a good week, three or four days of practice,” Johan Sundstrom said. “We came out in Springfield and we didn’t battle for 60 minutes; we battled for 04. It’s not enough in hockey.”
It was a similar thing tonight, giving up goals early in both the first and second period, lapses and breakdowns that cost them. There were a couple of early shifts tonight where maybe they could’ve gotten on the board — a shift by a makeshift Sim-Quine-Kabanov line after the Escobedo penalty kill comes to mind, with Quine in front a couple of times — and then who knows, but otherwise it was a rough night. (Seriously, I kept looking up at shots on goal and wondering how they could be accurate. Tweeted — ha-ha-only-serious — that I wanted the Corsi numbers.)
At the same time, though, the defense is breathtakingly inexperienced. A few more forwards are rookies. Given all of that… are nights (and I said nights, but maybe you could say weeks) like this inevitable?
(And his no-excuses part is in the gamer.)
“I know what we have. It’s to maximize what we have,” Scott Pellerin said. “Other teams have more vets, experience … At the end of the day, if you give me Player X, I’ve got to make sure I get the most out of Player X. The more that you’re able to maximize out the play of those players, we’re going to be in every game.”
The players chatted about it all afterward, then.
“I didn’t talk to them after,” Pellerin said. “It comes to a point they have to figure it out. I’m going to leave it at that.
“The information, the systems, the way our team has to work, comes from me. They have to execute it.”
Until they get that 60-minutes-a-night effort, “you’re going to have nights like tonight. You’re going to get frustrated, deal with missed opportunities, deal with adversity. At the end of the day, it’s how you respond.”
The power play got one: Mike Keenan’s first AHL goal, with a little bit of traffic in front. Pellerin liked the puck movement, liked that Keenan put it on net.
Memorably otherwise: a two-minute five-on-three in the third period. They kept getting pucks back to Calvin de Haan and Sundstrom. A lot of those shots went wide.
“We need to score. No excuses, five-on-three,” Sundstrom said. “I think we had a lot of opportunities. We’ve got to find the open net.”
“I think we’re shooting not to score with confidence,” Sundstrom added.
The PP had a little roll going for a while, but Keenan’s goal snapped an 0-for-15, and tack on the end here and they’re 1-for-the-past-20.
“Maybe (special teams) is something we can work on, hopefully, get improved, right?” Sim said. “Teams win with the power play. Teams win with the penalty kill, and I think the penalty kill has been great lately.
“For me, sometimes the power play can generate momentum. It’s not always going to score, but if you can generate momentum, it can be a big part of the game. Sometimes we don’t do that.”
Waited on the room and got to chatting with some people, so apologies for the tardiness and the brief notebookiness here. Team’s just having workouts tomorrow, so unless something goes down, we’ll see you Monday.
The big breaking news tonight was that Evgeni Nabokov left tonight’s game with a groin injury. For what it’s worth, Pellerin and Anders Nilsson both said they didn’t know if Nilsson was getting the call. It’s only logical, even if it’s only an interim move. (The Islanders are also off tomorrow.)
Nothing immediate on Sean Escobedo, who left his AHL debut after taking a hit from Michael Kantor.
Leave you with this, from Sundstrom: “If the door’s open, like Pelly said, we need to kick it in.” Wish I’d thought of that at 9:36.