This might seem a strange thing to write, with the team in the midst of a nine game losing streak, but while I'm as frustrated and disappointed as any die hard T-bird fan right now I'm also still very optimistic.
This current run of bad form doesn't look or feel to me as it has the past few years. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and while many of you may think that is the headlight from the oncoming locomotive, I see the better future. And I don't mean next seaon or a few seasons beyond. I'm talking about the rest of this season.
This group will get the bow of the ship out of the water, stop the listing and get things righted. They may not finish much better then .500 but there is too much young talent on this team. They do need both Conner Honey and Roberts Lipsbergs back in the lineup. They still don't have the depth necessary to get through a tough stretch without their top two scorers.
The one thing about those two players, while very different in personality off the ice, on the ice it is apparent they are the straws that stir the drink. So getting them back is important. But even without them this team probably should have won at least one of the games versus Everett. They aren't necessarily playing poorly, they are just lacking in confidence right now.
In Kamloops Friday, in that first period, they played the way they need to play to be competitive. That was as good a period of hockey as they've played in the past month. Unfortunately they didn't reward their own effort. Too many quality scoring chances continue to turn into shots that miss the net. And when they ran into adversity and fell behind, they stopped skating with purpose. They abandoned their systems, dialed down the hitting and tried to create things that just weren't there. Often times to escape adversity you don't necessarily have to play harder, you just have to play smarter.
If there is one thing I think they need right now, it is leadership from the senior players. I'm not talking a rah-rah lockerroom speech, but just one or two of the veteran players to get the team re-focused; to remind them of the way they played much of the first half of the season. Because after a while the coaches can say the same things over and over again and it stops registering. It's time for the players to take ownership of their actions.
Their 16 first half wins didn't come by happenstance. They came about through hard work and attention to detail. Right now the team is forgetting to do the little things that turn into big results. We've seen glimpses during this stretch of their best but it takes everyone being on the same page to turn those glimpses into a complete sixty minutes of hockey.