Weekend Recap: Lakers sweep RedHawks
With Miami stumbling out of the gate to an uncharacteristic 2-6 start, common themes have emerged during the first eight games of the 2011-12 season. In a nutshell, Miami has been plagued by penalties, poor penalty killing and defense, and an overall lack of leadership starting from the net out.
Senior goaltenders, and four-year starters, Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp currently feature the worst numbers of their career. Reichard has never had a season goals-against average higher than 2.11, nor a save percentage lower than .912, but currently sports a 3.11 and .870. For Connor Knapp, he has never posted numbers worse than 2.09 and .904, but currently sits at 3.17 and .888 respectively.
Clearly, this was not supposed to be a problem coming into the year. Now, with the rash of penalties and lack of sound defense and penalty killing, the goaltenders have certainly been left out to dry on more than one occasion this season. Yet, as four-year starters and leaders on this team, they were expected to be a rock in the net allowing the young forwards to find their game. Miami’s goaltenders simply aren’t keeping the RedHawks in games. If this doesn’t improve, it won’t matter about the development of the offense because coming from behind in every game simply won’t work.
On defense, seniors, and four-year starters Cameron Schilling, Chris Wideman and Will Weber need to be better. There have been many instances already this season of defensive misplays, overplays and general lack of intensity. Very strange considering this group has always done what it takes, and performed admirably in all situations. This group has to find their game to support the development of the kids upfront.
Lastly, Miami is not receiving scoring depth nor significant contributions from role players. Max Cook, Steve Mason, Pat Tiesling, Curtis McKenzie, Trent Vogelhuber, Bryon Paulazzo…these guys have to elevate their games, and especially, stay out of the penalty box.
There are still 30 games to go. It’s a long season and this team has plenty of time to gel. I think we all expected a drop-off, but I would not have predicted six losses in the first eight games. Worse, the RedHawks are 0-4 in league play meaning they’re already staring at an uphill battle to finish in the top five and earn a bye and home ice in the CCHA playoffs…something Miami has NEVER failed to accomplish under the current playoff format.
Hopefully, Miami will begin to find their game on the road as the RedHawks travel to Fairbanks, Alaska to face the Nanooks in another critical CCHA series.