Don't you just hate it when those pesky game days sneak up on you? I mean, it's not as though there's a color-coded schedule lying around somewhere or a website you could go to in order to find out when there's a game.
Oh...there is? Both?
Could someone please let the Crunch know this?
This is gonna be short and sweet, mostly because there's not a whole lot I can say about the games this past weekend. I didn't listen to them, and the Crunch apparently didn't know they were playing hockey. They must have thought they were having a meatball sub at Subway or something. I know those subs are good, but these must have been subs of pure awesome, considering the Crunch were so involved in them they forgot to do all those little things you need to do to win a hockey game.
Both games this weekend were down in Norfolk, Virginia, a team we had beaten several times already this season. I think the series stood at 3-1 going into these contests. We've proven we could do it. We had a great weekend last week. The Crunch got into Norfolk Thursday, with time to rest from the travel before playing Friday. This should have been another good weekend, a chance to at least split the difference and get two points out of four.
Unfortunately, this didn't happen.
|SOG||Power Play opportunities||Final score|
|SOG||Power Play opportunities
Obvious problem A: The return of our dismal power play. The Crunch went 0/9 on the weekend when up a man. That can't happen. It just can't. Our PP is lacking the spirited quarterback we had in Nathan Paetsch, who has been out forever with a lingering groin injury, and that hole is clearly showing.
Obvious problem B: The penalty kill wasn't exactly inspiring, with Norfolk going 3/13 on the man advantage.
Obvious problem C: 13 penalties over two games.
Obvious problem D: Goaltending. JP had a fantastic weekend last week. (Reminder: he earned a shut out Friday then held the best team in the league to two goals Saturday) This weekend, he gave up 7 goals over two games. This is what I mean when I say he's incredibly inconsistent. When your offense is one that struggles, you just need your goaltender to be able to give them a cushion to work with. JP isn't a player right now who can give us that cushion every game. Is it fair to constantly ask such a thing of the goaltender? No, no, it's not. But that's part of his job.
Obvious problem E: Our ECHL call ups are sometimes causing more issues than they're solving. 4 of the Crunch's 13 penalty kills were drawn by Eric Regan and John de Gray, two defensemen from the Elmira Jackals who are currently filling holes while some of our players nurse injuries. de Gray took two hooking penalties in an 8 minute time span Saturday night. The second PK for the Crunch resulted in a Norfolk PP goal. The team as a whole has to be more disciplined, and obviously the call ups are probably going to be a weaker link. But, we can't have them taking dumb penalties.
Obvious problem F: We're getting shots, but none of them are quality shots. We're not working the angles or getting those garbage goals from the front of the net, two things we've been "not doing" all season. We're making it too easy on the opposing team's goaltender and sending every puck into his chest. These young players are refusing to be that guy in the crease, shoving his body around and getting beat up for that one opportunity to score. I know it's a crappy job, but somebody has to step up and be there or we're never going to get the chance to turn things around.
Plus side of things: Voros played really well, from what I can tell. His plus/minus rating stayed at a steady 0 through both games, and the only penalty he took was a five-for-fighting. He stuck up for his new team and played disciplined hockey. I like! He spent quite a bit of time on the PK, beside captain Joe DiPenta, and not one goal was scored with him out on the ice during those times. If only we could say the same for our other players, these games might have been totally different.
Emery will be with us for practice all this week, so we'll be watching that situation closely. Hopefully, he'll come in and be the spark this team needs to avoid blowouts like this. It'd be nice if we could string a few wins together here and there to end the season. The Crunch just can't seem to stay focused enough. We need all hands on deck, doing their jobs. As fans, we do have things to look forward to--I can't wait to see Voros play this weekend, and I'd assume Emery is going to get playing time--so that's a plus. The weather is supposed to warm up a bit, so hopefully the days of missing games because of snow are behind us.
Spring is coming, for better or for worse!