Good morning and Merry Christmas, Snakes fans!! You can be sure the players and coaches will enjoy a little break, though, to tell you the truth, I hate to break the spell by taking a few days off! Nothing like 4 straight victories to get a celebration started.
The guys are playing really well under adverse conditions. No Orrin Hergott. No Derek Pallardy. These are a couple of really key ingredients to the Snakes' success. I talked to Jerome last night and Orrin seems to be doing better, but I wouldn't expect him to be in the lineup next weekend. It's still possible, but he's already had one false start in his recovery. Hopefully a great Christmas trip home and showing his little boy what snow looks like will be great therapy. )
Derek will be out until the new year. Though he's off to a slow start offensively, like everyone was, Derek is a key player on the ice. He's calm, seasoned and steady. Can you even imagine how powerful this team will be when Derek and Orrin are at full strength?
The team is down one d-man right now. Tommy Fitzpatrick was out for last night's game, NOT as a result of being boarded in Knoxville, but from another injury. The injury isn't serious, but incredibly painful and can be slow to heal. Hope to see Tommy back soon.
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As much as I hate for anybody to sit, it's not necessarily a bad thing when they play with 5 defensemen. Everybody plays with everybody else and they get LOTS of ice time. Bret Tyler told me recently that he really likes playing with 5. This was when Tommy was in South Carolina.
Speaking of Bret, what else could he do for this team? Drive the Zamboni, maybe? Ya'all know it always makes me nervous when Andrew Loewen wanders. Ever since that disaster in his rookie year when he came too far out and the opposing team scored a goal. Yikes. Andrew has definitely taken fewer chances in the years to come, but when he makes a decision to play the puck, it can be spectacular...
Last night, he skated almost to the blue line and way to the farside boards. It doesn't bother me as much when the other team is on a line change, or way down in their own zone, but they were closing in fast. Bret realized, simultaneously, that Andrew probably couldn't get back...and the net was open. So he recorded a save and cleared the puck. Drama, drama, drama.
I'll admit, the game last night got off to a pretty shaky start. For one thing, it was played entirely in the Columbus zone. Now, I'm still learning about this game every day, but I'm pretty sure the home team is NOT going to score until or unless it takes an actual shot on goal!! It took a good long while for that to happen.
After a rough, as Sam Bowles said, 5 or 10 minutes, despite a considerable lack of offensive moves (like practically no SOG) , the Snakes were, amazingly, down only 1-0. Still plenty of time to regroup, which they did, thanks to...you guessed it, Bret. At the end of a period, it's 1-1 and the Snakes have a PPG to boot, but I really feel like the Snakes have the advantage. To have mustered little in the way of offense and still have a brand new game...you have to feel good about that.
It said a lot about the maturity and character of this team that they didn't get rattled when down by a goal. Especially a shorthanded goal, which can be pretty demoralizing. Then the offense just exploded reeled off 3 straight goals, including 2 by Jordan Braid. The Braid-John Sullivan-Matt Gingera line has been on fire lately. Jordan really came through last night. Tom Maldonado also contributed a goal during the 3-goal outburst.
Another big test came when the Snakes gave up a PPG late in the period, cutting the lead to a dangerous 2 goals. But Levi Lind sealed the win with a goal late in the third.
A big test after the holidays as the guys face 4 games in 5 nights, including road trips to Knoxville, Memphis and Fayetteville, where the Snakes will ring in the New Year.
Taking a few days off myself. Headed to Atlanta to spend a couple of days with my family, which is always wonderful. :)
Looking forward to hockey's return next week. Hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas!