Sorry for the late post. I just needed some time to think about my stance on last night's game vs the Blades.
Which position do you want to take right now with this team? I must admit it's often easier to take the "half empty" approach. I'll break down both arguments and you can decide.
Some fans would agree that it's not the losses, it the way this team is losing. Home games haven't been close lately when the Broncos are on the short end. 7-2 against Regina, 3-0 vs Spokane, 9-6 vs Moose Jaw, 6-1 vs Red Deer, 6-3 vs Brandon and last night's 7-1 loss to Saskatoon. Some nights this team just can't stop the bleeding. 4-0 turns to 6-0, 4-1 leads to 7-1. That is awfully frustrating for fans to see the score being run up like that on home ice. It's embarrassing really. I feel bad for our guys, for our fans.
Goaltending. Where has it been since the trade deadline? Last night or maybe the game vs Moose Jaw was the worst it's been all season. Our goalies appear shaky from the get-go and can't pull it together. Shots go in from everywhere. Even lady luck turns sour and funny hops and bounces end up in the back of the net. I was very disappointed last night with this aspect of the game. Our goaltenders have to be more prepared to play. Broncos Assistant Coach Dave Hunchak and I got into it during the post-game Coaches Show. He refused to point fingers when everyone else in the building saw what happened. Hunch has to take that stand and I don't blame him. It's a team game and that's the bottom line. It got interesting as you may have heard, but when the mics go off, we're cool and I respect him for that. I think he knows I have a job to do and have to keep my credibility with Bronco fans who no doubt would want to ask the same questions. I work for the radio station not the Broncos and sometimes my reporter instincts get the best of me. If I worked for the team, maybe I don't get into as much detail. As a (former) goaltender I know how much a bad goal can sag a team. There's nothing worse then battling hard only to see a softy go in from long range. When players look to the ceiling in dis-belief after a goal, that's a bad sign. I've seen it before first-hand. It can really be a breaking point of a game.
We had a chance to virtually end the playoff hopes of the Saskatoon Blades and didn't show up. If the Broncos win that game, that's pretty much it for the Blades playoff chances. They knew it too. They were playing with their season on the line and were not afraid to share that fact in the pre-game interviews I had. The Broncos knew it was coming. They were flat as they committed 19 turnovers in the first period alone.
Is that enough "half empty" examples? I'm sure there are more but we'll move on.
There are still several positives one can look at. This team is still sitting in 3rd place in the east division after the weekend after climbing past Prince Albert by a single point. 3rd place! To be honest the WHL pundits had pegged this team to finish as high as 4th and as low as 6th in the division this season. Many people thought the playoff teams would be Regina, Moose Jaw, Brandon, Saskatoon in that order. That was the consensus. That still may happen, but it's not the likely scenario. One could still make the case this team is over-achieving based on their ranking in the east division.
If you've followed this blog for awhile, you would remember the "Cruel Summer" post when I recapped a tough 2002 bantam draft for this team, (it's in the November archives on this site if you're interested). The players picked that year would be our 19 year-olds this season. They are the core of any team looking to make a playoff run. It was the toughest draft year maybe in history for this team. Of the four 19 year-olds on this team, none came from that draft. Jerrid Sauer, a 6th round pick was traded to Medicine Hat for Spencer McAvoy and Dale Wiese. That is all we have to show presently for that draft year. My point is, on paper, this wasn't supposed to be "the year" for this club. Don't worry it's coming. I believe that. A bright future lies ahead.
Here's another half full approach. The Broncos still made out ok this weekend in the standings. Entering, they were seven points ahead of Saskatoon and nine ahead of Moose Jaw. They still are, but each team now has two less games remaining. Plus, they jumped ahead of the Raiders for third. The Broncos can tread water with these teams the rest of the regular season. It's the other three that have to start making up ground. Plus they gained two points on Regina over the last two nights and are six back of the Pats for 2nd place and home ice advantage. Not bad.
So, there are two ways you can look at the situation. It's up to you what approach you want to take. Now it's your turn. What position do you want to take? Let's hear from you.
Hey, good luck to Phil Gervais and Geordie Wudrick who have now left the team for the Canada Winter Games in the Yukon to represent the provinces of Alberta and B.C. Bring home some hardware boys.
Safe travels to all the Broncos family who made it here for Parents Weekend. See you all on the road.
Enjoy the rest of your long weekend. Now, it's off to the outdoor rink for some fun.