It’s October 1.
The Moncton Wildcats are in 12th place with 2 wins and 2 losses, in 4 games.
The Cats have scored 15 goals and given up 16.
They are clicking at 30.8% on the power play and 81.8% on the penalty kill and have taken 41 minutes in penalties through 4 games.
Is that what you expected?
Well, what did you expect?
It’s early, really early, but the Wildcats have some holes in their line up and some issues to resolve if they want to be successful.
The injury to Sean Stewart drastically affects the Cats blue line, but also exposes the team’s current lack of depth at that position, but honestly what did you expect?
The Wildcats lost their number two defencemen a few days before the start of the season.
Sure you can say that you have a plan in place for that, but you can’t really plan for such a devastating blow and loss.
That’s how important Jonathan Aspirot’s presence actually was for this hockey club.
Ok, so some players might not be living up to their full potential to start the season.
You can point fingers all day, but what’s the real issue behind the Cats lack lustre start at the Avenir Centre?
Team defence, that’s to blame.
Not one or two player’s, it’s team defence.
It’s not a sixteen-year-old kids fault who logged big minutes over the homestand on the backend and did quite well at times.
It’s not Olivier Rodrigue’s fault.
Ok, he was a little deep on Friday night, but you can’t blame the kid for being a little nervous playing his first game with a new franchise.
It’s certainly not Jordan Spence’s fault, he’s logging massive minutes in every situation, so by the time there is a power play, he’s gassed.
You want to talk about load management, talk to Jordan Spence after this past weekend, I can guarantee the Cats don’t want that trend to continue.
As I’ve written countless times before, Aspirot’s absence affects everything back there, but never fear Axel is here!
Oh yeah, he isn’t, well not yet anyhow.
You can be of the mindset that one player isn’t going to have a major impact on the d corps, but clearly you could also be wrong, very wrong.
Andersson, if he comes, which he probably will be very soon, is going to have a massive impact on the Wildcats overall performance and team game.
One player can make a massive difference.
It’s called depth, it’s called skill, it’s called balance, but most of all it’s called relief for Jordan Spence.
Oh let’s not worry about who’s not here, let’s be concerned with the players that are.
Great philosophy, but clearly the Cats didn’t buy into their team systems over the weekend, well I’m wrong they bought into the Torchetti’s systems for about two and half periods out of six and a little counting the overtime on Friday night.
Well, I hate math, I hate stats, but I know that’s less than half, which makes sense that they split the games this weekend and currently sit at .500.
Clearly that’s not good enough, and certainly not good enough by team standards.
Let’s be very serious, you can’t win in the QMJHL if you don’t have team defence and if you don’t play as a team.
Sure you might win some games when your tendy steals one or two, but you aren’t going places when you can’t get the puck out of your zone, when you don’t support the puck in your zone and when your forecheck is non-existent and your transition defence has more wholes in it than a modern pair of blue jeans.
Ok, but what’s another offensive minded defencemen going to do, what makes him so special?
Well for starters, he’s going to be a one-man breakout, he’s going to skate out of trouble, he’s going to spot the open man and make a phenomenon first pass, he’s going to run the power play, he’s going to kill penalties, and he’s going to play a regular shift, oh that’s right, but you want to work on the players that are currently here. That’s a great philosophy, it really is, but you aren’t going to win, when they don’t buy in, it’s just that simple.
When your newly anointed captain, the leader, the veteran, the cornerstone of your franchise, calls out his teammates by saying that they are cheating, in the third game of the year, in your home opener, you have a big problem.
Playing the right way and playing as a team, not as individuals is critical for the Moncton Wildcats and until Axel arrives and drastically impacts the backend, the team could be confronted with even more adversity and poor outcomes.
Don’t be concerned.
Don’t be alarmed, it’s the second week of the season, the Cats like many other teams across the league are trying to figure a few things out about their players and their systems, but more importantly they are trying to figure out how to win as a group and that takes time and trust.
Some people may say that it’s perfect timing for the Wildcats to go out on the road and bond and spend time together, and develop chemistry.
Well that’s all well and good, but in this day and age, and in this league, it’s about winning, and to be brutally honest with you the Cats are going to be in tough.
No one is going to feel sorry for you.
No one is going to give you an easy two points.
No one cares if you lost your top scorer, and number two defencemen to the pros. No one cares if your import star defencemen hasn’t arrived yet, but what do you expect it’s hockey, it’s the Q and you’re the Moncton Wildcats.
What can you expect from the Cats moving forward? You can expect Axel to arrive very shortly. You can expect Jake Stewart to be back in the line up.
You can expect Jordan Spence to be dynamic and start putting massive amount of points on the board. You can expect the team to work a lot harder and not play as individuals. You can expect Alexander Khovanov not to fight anymore.
What do you expect?