Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/4/2010 (3635 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
HAMILTON — A few things are going to have to happen if the Manitoba Moose are going to upset the Hamilton Bulldogs in their opening round AHL playoff series:
The Moose will need solid goaltending, stifling defence, good penalty-killing and to find a way to shut down Hamilton’s prolific top line.
The Moose got all of it here last night — and they still lost Game 1 by a score of 2-0.
Because in addition to all those keys, the Moose are going to also need to find a way to score goals. And, just as it’s been so many times before this season, the Moose were unable to generate any offense on a night that saw them muster 21 shots, but hardly any real scoring chances, against the Bulldogs and netminder Cedrick Desjardins.
A Moose power play that was horrendous all season long was horrifying on a night that saw the Moose go 0-for-6 and muster just a handful of shots on all those power plays combined.
And so on a night that could have been about all the things the Moose did right — they held Hamilton to just 18 shots, were a perfect 7-7 on the penalty kill and held top scorers David Desharnais and Brock Trotter completely off the score sheet — the talk was instead about the one that got away.
"That was a game there to be taken for us. We could have taken that one with a little better execution," said Moose head coach Scott Arniel.
"I liked our grit, I liked the way we competed. But our play with the puck — 5-on-5 and 5-on-4 — has to be way better...I liked a lot of what our plumbers did tonight, but I think our skill guys have to step up."
The few times the Moose did have scoring chances, they came away empty. Yan Stastny split the Hamilton defence midway through the first period only to hit the post on a breakaway, while Mario Bliznak had three cracks at a puck alone beside the Hamilton net in the second period only to get foiled by Desjardins on every one.
Moose defenceman Lawrence Nycholat wanted nothing to do with any talk about the fine defensive effort. "It doesn’t matter if we’re shutting guys down if we’re not generating enough chances to win," said Nycholat, who looked solid in his return from a back injury.
Nycholat said the anemic Moose power play had nothing to do with what Hamilton was doing and everything to do with what Manitoba wasn’t doing. "It’s not like they reinvented the wheel over there," said Nycholat. "We didn’t get shots, we didn’t look to get shots, we looked to make passes a lot."
Hamilton opened the scoring at 5:54 of the first period when Bulldogs forwards Mike Glumac and Hunter Bishop tag-teamed Moose defenceman Evan Oberg off the puck at the blue-line and Glumac stepped into a screened shot from the top of the face-off circle that whistled by Schneider. "I just didn’t track it off his stick because I couldn’t see it," said Schneider. "I’ve got to make that stop."
The two teams pounded on each other in a hard-hitting game the rest of the way, with Hamilton sealing the deal 3:37 into the third when Dogs centre Ryan Russell one-timed a nifty pass through traffic by pesky linemate Ryan White over Schneider’s glove.
Schneider said his club is going to have to do a much better job of getting traffic in front of his counterpart at the other end of the ice — something the Hamilton netminder basically admitted as well.
"Our guys did a tremendous job in front of me. A lot of the shots were perimeter shots," said Desjardins, who was presented before the game with the AHL award for stingiest goals-against-average this season.
"We need to make things a lot harder on him," agreed Moose forward Guillaume Desbiens, one of the few Moose players who did get to the front of the Hamilton net Thursday night.
The Moose and Bulldogs will both practise here today before returning to the ice Saturday afternoon for Game 2 of this series.