The southern swing into Panther and Lightning territory netted the CBJ 3 of 4 possible points.As a team we sit on CBJ Air on the tarmac in TampaBay and the plane is as quiet as a mouse….it is dead air in the cabin.The score was 2-1 in OT against a one man show of Marty St Louis who scored the deciding goal.He continued to add to as season high 9 game point streak with a goal scorer’s goal, as a left handed shot coming down the left wing he stymied Steve Mason on the glove side.
It was a gallant effort on behalf of the CBJ, as they outshot and dominated almost every facet of the game.Yes, that garnered a much needed point, but with this new attitude and confidence riding the wave of this hockey team, it proved to be not even close to being good enough for everyone’s sake. They are more critical of their game now than anytime all year....that is good...that in fact is exactly what needs to take place.So what was the problem tonight?
The defensive zone coverage is excellent with the transition game crisp and pure. Through the neutral zone, there are a few blurps when things get looking too cute and there is the odd turnover….that turns a coach’s hair gray(er), but overall it has been fine. The offensive zone emphasis in getting the puck behind the opposition’s defensemen is impressive.The cycle to the net is ok, butneeds an element of a simple shot-rebound from low to high and/or a simple “walk to the net and jam low” for a possible rebound.The CBJ outshot TB 34-17 with the Grade A chances dominating, but it was not good enough because one aspect to winning games is simple....it is the ability to score timely goals.
No really.... what is the problem?It is easy… but easy is hard…..if it was easy then it wouldn’t be that hard to SCORE ON THE POWER PLAY.It has been a nightmare all year long for this team in finding a way to score.Why? The team does look good in puck movement, but the last time it was documented, looking good isn’t good enough. The off season will emphasize the implementation of trying to secure the next piece of the puzzle.
For the first star of the season Scott Howson (as nominated by an email in tonight’s broadcast and a cast of others), a (preferable) right handed defenseman that can rifle the puck is a must...Someone who can shoot the puck and the opposition just gets out of the way from something that peels paint off the wall that it is so hard and scary.There are not many out there, but if available, a PP specialist is a must.This will allow the support players up front some offensive support from the “D” corps....then watch this team soar.
Knowing what has been accomplished in such a short time with structure and accountability from the management team and the coaching staff, the off season acquisitions will fill the much needed hole on this impressive hard working squad.That is what is in the future.The future looks very bright.
Being on the cusp of the first ever playoff berth in franchise history, this team has the proper mental makeup to do some damage in a 7 game series.There is work to be done though, and looking too far ahead is not in the plans for all that are enjoying the moment in CBJ history.Look no further than Thursday night when the Flames invade NWA.
Come on out and enjoy what is going on with this team.It is exciting and could be a preview of the first round of the playoffs.