Today’s game…. it was hard to watch. It was a game of scrambling for the puck, and playing dump and chase hockey to kill penalties. There were no actual plays being made. The Checkers weren’t driving into the net and making things happen. Instead, they were shooting from the perimeter just hoping something would find the back of the net. Abbotsford’s goaltender Danny Taylor stopped 22 of the 24 shots the Checkers sent his way, but he was frequently fumbling the puck and seemed very shaky at times, but some kind of cloak of luck seemed to be around him that enabled him to keep the Checkers shots from passing him.
The team threw Justin Peters under the bus when he was put in during the second period following the fifth goal Mike Murphy allowed. Peters was forced to skate onto the ice in front of a team that had quit playing in the first period. Murphy and Peters were far from perfect tonight, but had they been more supported by their teammates, they may have had a better shot during the game. Do I think we had problems with goaltending this week? Sure. The statistics prove that. But I think the bigger problem is the absolute lack of offense. Five goals in four games is an abysmal statistic.
At times this afternoon, I saw flashes of impressive plays. A near miss goal that involved fast skating and fancy stickhandling by Drayson Bowman and Zac Dalpe. Guys like Chris Terry forcing themselves in front of the crease attempting to get rebounds. But then there were the bad passes, the turnovers in the neutral zone, and overall lack of cohesion between teammates. The defenseman have been trying to be more offensive this week with driving into the zone and shooting the puck from the blue line, but none of that seems to be working. It’s like the Checkers need to take a few steps back, and go back to the basic fundamentals where forwards create plays, and defenseman defend.
There didn’t seem to be any effort on the ice, a problem that has been reoccurring for the past month. For the first time I remember seeing, Checkers coach Jeff Daniels is taking some of the responsibility.
Daniels taking some responsibility for slide. In terms of preparing team, “I’ve got to do a better job. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can go the other way. For me, that was rock bottom.”
— Paul Branecky (@PaulBranecky) April 8, 2012
If things don’t turn around this week for the Checkers, it’s going to be a long and change-filled off season for the organization. To not make the playoffs after a season that had many more ups than downs would be a truly devastating fact I’m not yet ready to face.
Half full, or Half empty?
There are two ways to look at it right now. The optomists will say the glass is half full… the Checkers have four games left, and have been stronger on the road than at home as of late. The pessimists, well, they probably hear the fat lady singing. (I think she’s definitely doing her vocal warm-ups, but it’s not over till it’s over.)
- Despite a rough last month or two of the season, the Checkers are still only two points out of a playoff position, with four games remaining.
- The Checkers play four games in six days this week. Their record against Rockford, Peoria and Milwaukee is 13-6-0-1, so there is no reason to believe that they can’t get the majority of the points from these crucial contests.
- The Checkers have picked up points in three of the last four road games. Hopefully this streak can continue on Tuesday in Rockford.
- This week alone, the Checkers only scored five goals in four games at home. They allowed 18 goals during those four games.
- The Checkers are two for six in their last eight games, and four for eight in the last 12. Yikes.
- Hands down, that was the most depressing season finale I’ve ever been to. The fans who stuck through it until the end, I salute you. It was a horribly painful game to watch, and shows true character to support the team through it all.
- Thanks to a wonderful photographer friend, I have hundreds of pictures to dig through for the site, but alas, it might be a couple of days before I can post the highlights.
- I’m heading to the great states of Illinois and Wisconsin on Thursday for the final three games of the Checkers regular season. Any thoughts from the readers about what you hope to see from the team as the 2011/12 season winds down?
- Chasing Checkers regular contributor Allan has promised an end-of-season scorecard of sorts. Look for it later in the week!