I know ya'all wonder where I've been the past week. I was all set to write about the Snakes' lost weekend when my log-in info wouldn't work. Huh? Thanks to Nick Blair, L-E tech guru, for getting me up and running again.
Where to begin...
Let's start with the offense. It's struggling big time. During the past four games, the Cottonmouths have scored a whopping 4 goals: 0, 1, 1 and 2. That, quite honestly, just plain won't cut it. I thought maybe Tyler Djurich could help offensively, but I just checked and Jerome waived him yesterday. Yikes!
Looking down the list of scorers, there are still those who are close...kind of...to the magic point-per-game mark. After 14 games played, Matt Gingera, Jordan Braid, Jordan Draper and Tory Allan have 11 points. Matt and Jordan B led the team in scoring last year ago, so these two definitely need to put the puck in the net.
Jordan D was signed right before the playoffs, so this is his first full season. It's encouraging that he's picked up some points lately. Jordan D has four points in the last five games, while Matt , Jordan B and Levi Lind have only one. Tory has three points in the past two games, also a positive thing.
Since I"m firmly a glass-half-full girl, I always look for the positives. Right now, it's not easy.
The Snakes' D, quite frankly, is struggling big-time. I know that the loss of one player can't have such a negative impact on every other member of the D corps. But when Mike Switzer went down with a knee injury on Nov. 17, it triggered a negative sequence of events. Chris Bailer spent three days on the shelf with a mild concussion and Mike has now played 7 games and missed 7.
Chris is back, so now on the blue line the Snakes have Tom Maldonado, the only vet on the team, Chris, Kyle Johnson, and rookies Jason Gray and Andy Willigar. Daniel Amesbury is also playing on the blue line for now. The defensive pairings are still being juggled and nothing is working.
The goalies--Andrew Loewen, Travis Bosch and , briefly, Jesse Chenard) have yielded a whopping 54 goals in 14 games...nearly four per game. This figure is tied with Peoria for worst in the league. Yikes. That said, the goalies can't be held accountable for all of them. Make that many of them.
The D has suffered multiple breakdowns and been plagued by turnovers. No sense pointing fingers at one defenseman or another. It's been a breakdown by the entire unit.
The Snakes are off to their worst start in 10 SPHL seasons. They're in ninth place, out of 10 teams, with a record of 4-9-1 and 9 points. Second worst was a 4-8-2 start in 08-09 (10 points). If you're curious, the two championship seasons, 04-05 and 11-12 both featured good starts. In the inaugural year, the Cottonmouths began the season 9-4 and two years ago they started 7-4-3.
So....a quarter of the season is in the books. Where does this team go from here?
I keep hearing from the coaches that these are a lot of small issues, rather than one big one. They say that they plan to ride out Mike's injury rather than bringing somebody in. Daniel has done a credible job on D. He's also made much better decisions than he did early in the season when he was forcing his teammates to kill five-minute majors and piling up gamers. That said, it will be good to get Mike back.
A final bit of good news: the PP is tops in the league at 20.83%. The PK is fourth at 82.61%.
The simple answer is that this team has talent. I'm sure of it. It needs to play better in every single phase of the game. EVERY. Better passing, smarter decisions especially in their own zone, hit harder and more often (and I don't necessarily fighting), and all three lines need to contribute. Team leaders (Kyle, Levi and Tom) need to seize control of this situation before it's too late and the season is lost. This is definitely not Cottonmouths hockey that we're all seeing in the first 14 games of the season.
Hopefully a strong week of practice and only one game this weekend will right the ship.
It's not too late to turn this season around. But it's time to get started.