Spider's Web | November 16, 2004
By Boris Roussonbo@prohockey.de
Hamburg, Germany - If last year we hit the Deutschland Cup Break on a roll, and close to first place, we have to be a little concerned about our situation this season. We all welcome the few days off ahead of us, and it will give us the time to recover and recharge our batteries a bit, after running on empty in the last few games. Not that we played that bad, we actually dominated most of the games, but the results were definitely not to our advantage. Here are the highlights of our last three game.
We had thrown 46 shots on Jimmy Waite last Sunday in Ingolstadt, and we kept the same game plan against Frankfurt, hoping to get a few more goals in the process. We threw 49 pucks at Ian Gordon, and he stopped them all but one, most of them in his habitual spectacular way, as the Lions left Hamburg with a 3-1 win. Third straight home loss for us, something else to be a little concerned about for sure. Every team in the league plays better at home, and we definitely have to find ways to get some points in Hamburg, because it is not easy to win more game on the road... Once again, our power-play failed to register any goals, on 12 chances, and we even allowed a goal while we had the man advantage, the eventual game winning goal by Dwayne Norris in the last minute of the second period. Dave Tomlinson scored our only goal, with a quick snapper between Gordon’s legs.
Our special teams won that one for us. Our power-play finally produced two goals, and our shorthanded unit, who has been very solid and is leading the league by the way, contributed two goals also. We won the game 5-2, and continued our strong play on the road. Just like our game at home against the Metro Stars, we jumped on them early, and apart from a 7 minute-span in the second period when they scored both their goals, we controlled the game. We had a little help from Trefilov on a couple of goals, but we played a very tough game, and deserved to win. Craig Johnson scored our first goal, shorthanded, after he and Reider created a little chaos in the DEG zone, and C.J. blasted a loose puck in the goal when Trefilov was looking somewhere else... Chief gave us a 2-0 lead on a power-play rocket from the top of the face-off circle, right under the cross bar. In the second period, we took advantage again of Düsseldorf’s sloppiness with the man-advantage, and Jimmy Dowd converted a 2 on 1 rush with Johnson for his first DEL-goal. DEG scored their two goals shortly after that, their second coming only seconds after we killed very effectively a full two minutes of 5 on 3 hockey. In the opening minutes of the third, it was Bobby House’s turn to finally score his first of the season, on the power-play, from a very difficult angle, and Trefilov did not look very good on that one too... Jacko completed the scoring when he hammered the rebound from Nils’ breakaway behind Trefilov.
The game against the Adler was almost a perfect copy of the Frankfurt game from 5 days before. We dominated the game mostly, although Mannheim had more scoring chances than Frankfurt did. Their goalie, Steve Passmore, making his first DEL start, was spectacular the same way Gordon was. Thomas Greilinger scored two goals for Mannheim, and Podollan the other, the game winning goal in the 39th minute (just like Frankfurt did). Chief scored again on the power-play for us, when his wrist shot from the blue line found a little opening through the crowd in front of Passmore. Rummer, Jacko and Nils, who were probably our best line in the last weekend, completed a very nice play for our last goal with 5 minutes to go. We had a great chance in the last minute to score when Podollan was sent to the box, but could not score the goal that would have tied it...
OUR FIRST QUARTER
We have had quite the rollercoaster ride so far this season. After a terrible training camp, we started the season losing our first two, before winning 4 in a row. Then 4 losses in 5 games before the break. We need to be more consistent, we need to have more bite every game, because if we don’t play hard, we won’t win very often. Even these last games, we played hard, very hard even, and could not win. At the top of our list of things to improve, definitely our power-play and our record at home. We did score three goals in the last two games on the power-play by playing it more direct and simple, just pass the puck and shoot, and it brings a little hope that we might be on the right track. Our penalty killing unit is the best in the league now, and our 5 on 5 play is quite good. Once we score a goal a game on the PP, like everybody else does, we should see the difference in the standings as well.
MY ALL-STAR TEAM
At this time of the season, I have seen every team once, and I will put myself on the spot again to name my first quarter All-Star Team. It is fair to say that the level of the DEL has improved this season because of the quality players that the NHL lockout has allowed us to have. Most teams have signed a few players that would have been in the NHL otherwise, and it helped bring the DEL to a new all-time high as far as entertaining and strong. In goal, I have to go with Jimmy Waite, who has even been better than last year and leads all goalies in all categories. An honorable mention to Rogles who has brought his team to the top of the standings despite losing their captain and best defenseman Schlegel. On defense, two newcomers have caught my attention: Pascal Trepanier (Nürnberg) and Stephane Robidas (Frankfurt) have came and established themselves as quarterbacks and have been as solid defensively as their impressive offensive numbers are. Ficenec (Ingolstadt) would also fit in there, with a great shot and his in-your-face style that makes him hard to play against. On offence, Patrick Lebeau is doing it again, leading the league in scoring, despite losing his long-time center Jesse Belanger. He is poison around the goal, and seems to be involved in all of the Lions’ goals. Two younger players complete my attack line, although one has been in the DEL for quite a while already. On a team (Mannheim) loaded with bigger names and potential superstars, Thomas Greilinger has emerged as the most consistent scoring threat. He can shoot the puck quicker than anybody in the league, and sure has the “goal scoring instinct” that is so hard to define and to teach. Yan Stastny from Nürnberg has only been in his second year in the league, and after plugging holes everywhere in their lineup last year, even playing a little defence I think, he has found his spot this year, right in the center of their top line. Grit, speed and smarts are his best assets, along with good genes I guess! Other forwards who have caught my attention are Lewandowski (Köln) and my teammate Brandon Reid, who I think is the most spectacular player in the league.