There are definitely more questions than answers this morning if you're a Snakes fan. In no particular order...
- How do you get 50 SOG and not win?
- How do you outshoot your opponent by more than a 2-to-1 margin and not win?
- How does home ice become a disadvantage?
- Why do you score so much more on the road in a variety of barns rather than at home in familiar surroundings?
- How do you play the same team so differently on successive nights?
Uh...so now I'm supposed to provide answers to any, much less all, of these questions? Yikes...
I was there, just like many of you. I saw all of those 50 shots headed toward goalie Dan Clarke. The short answer to questions 1 and 2 is: I have no idea! Tory Allan and Jordan Braid got two of the 50 past Clarke. But there were countless others that should have gone in. I stopped counting open nets at 5. Jerome said three in the first and a couple later. I saw the guys crashing the net and slapping away at the puck. They just plain didn't go in. Unbelievably frustrating.
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The Surge put only 20 shots on Travis Bosch. It wasn't a good sign when Mississippi took the early lead. It's always good to score first, but never so much as now when the team is erratic in its goal production. The fact that it went in after a big pileup in front and amidst allegations that it was kicked in didn't help. But, regardless, you're behind 1-0. Time to move on.
The first area of concern was the second goal by the Surge. Friday night, neither team managed more than a one-goal cushion until the Snakes pulled away at the end. In the rematch, it wasn't a good thing to see MSS go up by two in the early moments of the second period. The fact that it was less than 30 seconds from the end of the Surge PP made it tougher to take.
But Jordan cut the deficit in half before the midway point of the second, so I wasn't too concerned at this point. 2-1 at the 8:01 mark of the second is very manageable. Then came the third goal.
The third Surge goal came when the Snakes were on the PP, which is never a good thing. David Sallander was in the box for interference. The goal, which JB described as one Travis would like to have back, kind of flipped up in the air over Travis' shoulder, landed and dribbled in. Kind of hard to describe, and definitely weird.
That shortie was a killer. It was obvious by now that the guys weren't going to score 8, 5 or 5...their output during the past three road wins. Right now, the total was a whopping 1 almost exactly halfway through the game.
The second goal gave Snakes fans hope. Tory, who has been on a tear lately, was dragged down on a breakaway...and still put the puck in the net!! It was an exciting goal and gave the team a lift, but the Snakes still needed the equalizer, which, as you know, never came.
One of the biggest culprits has to be the PP performance. Ten chances...no goals. Definitely unacceptable. Missing open nets and quality chances produced a one-goal loss.
Let me digress from the above list for a minute. Alex Gallant continues to impress and make his mark on the SPHL. Ya'all will remember that Alex signed with the team in the summer, but was recovering from an injury and not able to play until November. My plan is to do a story on Alex right after the new year so ya'all can learn more about him. Right now, SPHL tough guys are learning plenty.
There's nobody Alex won't take on. Last night, he fought Kyle Fletcher at the 3:00 mark, served his five minutes and got into a prolonged fight with Chapen LaBlond. The league is taking notice and so are Snakes fans.
The most perplexing question is why the team is performing so better offensively on the road rather than at home. After scoring 8, 5 and 5 in the last three road wins, at home, it's been 1, 0 and 2...all losses. Can't blame this one on travel or bus legs. Both teams came the same distance. The difference was that the Snakes arrived home in the wee hours and slept in their own beds. The Surge made the trip later in the day on Saturday. How could that possibly benefit the Surge?
The answer to each and every one of these questions can be found in two words: inconsistency and unpredictability. I have no idea what these guys are going to do game to game, shift to shift.
The Snakes are 20 games into a 56-game season. They've won only ONE home game in regulation and ONE in a shootout. The last home W came on Nov. 22.
My biggest concern about flopping at home is losing new fans. The loyal fans will be back. My son Reese would come and see an 0-56 team!! An exaggeration of the current situation, certainly.
But I looked around at last night's crowd. Lots of familiar faces in the Reese category. Longtime season ticket holders Elaine Head, Teri Wilks, Leslie Landi and family would view this game and loss in a different way than the nice group of soldiers sitting above them. They've weathered plenty of storms over the years and know that this, too, shall pass. The Hendricks family, Harlan, Mary Beth, Sarah and Nathan, have been season ticket holders for a shorter time, but are just as devoted, as are Miss Flit and Joe Simmons.
Miss Flit and Joe had a large family group in town for Christmas. The family has been coming for as long as I've known the Simmons'. Did they have fun? Sure! Would they rather have seen a Snakes win? Yep!
The team is trying to attract new fans and keep longtime fans engaged. Winning at home, along with all of the promotional gimmicks that come with minor league sports, is a key. Casual fans aren't glued to the road webcasts like Harlan and I are. They pay their money and come to the Pit to be entertained and see the good guys win. Don't get me wrong. This team is very entertaining. A good blend of steady, dependable players with flashy ones.
But in a bottom-line world, it's time to start piling up the home Ws.