Columbus Cottonmouths

Season Slipping Away

    The regular season is slipping away, Snakes fans. Hard to believe, but there are only 6 regular season games left. Six...the number of the day.

    Six losses in a row. Six games left. Doesn't seem like long enough to right this ship, does it? The Snakes are on a slippery slope and things seems to be getting worse instead of better.

    In 9 years covering this team, I've never seen the injury bug bite so hard and so often!! Tonight, two key defensemen were watching from the stands. Just when Bret Tyler and John Sullivan rejoin the lineup...YAY...Tom Maldonado and Chris Bailer take their place in the stands. Neither Tom's nor Chris' injury is serious, but both will miss tomorrow night's game and be day-to-day after that.

     I told Jerome a couple of weeks ago that I feel like a teacher again when the team comes out for warmups each night and I take roll. Who's here and who's not? Any soldiers? Any new guys Jerome forgot to tell me about? The lockerroom has had a revolving door all season long....UGH.

     Jerome has tough decisions ahead as he maneuvers this team into position for the playoffs. Daniel Amesbury will be back tonight and Tommy Fitzpatrick could be here next week. Marcel Alvarez will take up a little of the slack left with Tom and Chris' absence. As you can see, the numbers aren't adding up.

      By my count, Jerome has used 7 of his 10 three-gamers. I imagine Marcel will be number 8 tomorrow night. But if both Daniel and Tommy are signed to regular contracts, that puts the Snakes two over the limit.

     I'll be honest...I don't understand bringing Daniel back at this point in the season. I know he's a fan favorite and I realize he'll sell tickets. No doubt about that as he's a charismatic presence on the ice.

     But my prediction is that he'll have few takers to drop the gloves as teams don't want to risk injury so close to the playoffs. Many coaches keep their enforcers on a very short leash. With only 6 regular season games left, will this move earn Daniel a playoff spot as well? Last year he was left off the playoff roster. Why would he be put on it this year? 

     The announcement of Daniel's return was a creative move by the Snakes' front office, but not one which I personally appreciated. I fully understood the involvement of social media in spreading what they and the fans think is glorious news. I take full advantage of what technology offers to help me do this job better...facebook, twitter and this blog are all great tools.

     While I applaud the creative use of social media, the fake press conference was totally inappropriate and insulting to credible media professionals who cover this team (that would be me). What they did wrong is not making the "press conference" enough of a satire. They should have thanked Erin Andrews, Bob Costas and Rece Davis for coming, leaving no doubt that this was not a real "press conference".  Thanking media members for coming was misleading, at best. There was no media there...I was on my sofa!!! 

     Already questions are floating out there as to whether or not a genuine member of the media asked the questions that a Snakes staff member actually posed. To make matters worse, a real press release about Daniel's signing was never sent out. Just my 2 cents, but I hope the plan is better thought out next time.

    Now the elephant in the room: how in heaven's name are the Snakes going to put the puck in the net? A very weary and discouraged Matt Gingera looked me square in the eye and said he wished he knew the answer to that question. Now, normally, Matt is very chatty and willing to spend as much time as I needed. Not this time. He couldn't wait to be released from the misery of talking to me so he could go back to the misery of the lockerroom. :(

     John, on the other hand, talked a good bit. John avoids me like the plague when he's hurt...haha. He knows I'll put an injury report in here and that his mom Debbie is a faithful reader. Finally, he realizes all moms stick together so I'm going to keep an eye on him on Debbie's behalf. :)

    John's two months on the sideline mean that he's not quite as discouraged as the others. He's so thrilled to be back on the ice and he's only been an active participant in this misery for two games. His teammates have suffered through six in a row.

     Tonight's game was pretty awful. I can't sugar coat that. For the fourth time in 5 games, the Snakes took the lead and lost it. Last night, as you well know, they didn't score at all...UGH...despite taking 50 SOG. One shy of the SPHL high for the season (Pensacola...51).  Even worse: 75 SOG and only ONE goal. How can that be? Why is the puck not going in the net?

     Tonight, the passes were going all over the place. After a solid first period, the next two they were "running around". Three key lapses, in my opinion...

     The back-to-back PPG, especially the second one, coming in the final minute of the second. For a team struggling to score, a 3-1 deficit is a much steeper hill to climb than 2-1. But it's still not impossible, right?

     So what happens? The guys come out and get a whopping TWO shots on goal in the first 11 minutes of the period. Yikes. Then the final two goals were really dreadful. Wide open nets. Where was Ian Vigier and where was his D? No idea. Think I was in shock by then. Wondering when this nightmare will end. When will they come out and thump somebody 5-1 rather than being on the receiving end of a 5-1 score?

     Time's running out. Unlike the guys, who remain confident they can pull it all together and win another Cup, I think they just can't flip a switch one day and say, "OK, we're ready to play." You need momentum to carry you into a successful playoff run. Going 2-8-1 down the stretch isn't what I had in mind...nor did they.

     Last year's championship team went 11-3 down the stretch and 6-0 in the playoffs. They cruised through the playoffs expecting to win. They had swagger. They had confidence. I don't see that this year. I wish I did. Losing is no fun for anyone...:(

      Stay tuned.