Two things need to happen during this important homestand to ensure a deep playoff run and to also show the buyers a few weeks ago that this Hound team eats and breathes winning and winning by committee.
The first thing that needs to happen is three straight wins against very formidable opponents and those three wins need to end with a big exclamation point. Confidence is built on dominating foes and confidence waivers when a team looks at the way their next opponent crushes teams via 6-1, 7-0 8-1 etc. Ottawa, London, and most recently Niagara fit into this category.
To be more accurate; Niagara dropped us 6-1 about a week ago and I’m sure the boys are still nursing the wounds. Coach Dean offered that the first two goals against were via “lucky bounces”, but so be it, numbers don’t lie and we got a freezing cold January Sault Ste. Marie dose of reality.
Tonight (Feb 6), the Hounds play host to a Sudbury team that wants to make waves this spring and the coaching staff and crew on board are on their way. They have played the best hockey I’ve seen in at least 5 years. Adam Ruzicka is the man to watch and don’t be surprised if Anthony DeMeo has a strong game against his former teammates
After a Saturday night rematch against Niagara where the Hounds will undoubtedly be looking for some sweet revenge, the Hounds host a potentially beat up and bus legged London Knights. The Knights will be trying to gain some swagger against a Hounds club that for some reason has owned Dale Hunters teams for the better part of the last three or four years.
Having played Saginaw less than 18 hours earlier and travelling overnight for an afternoon tilt with the Hounds will be the difference. London is looking for first overall and are playing a tough and well armed Saginaw Spirit club who is also looking to gain ground on the Hounds.
If my orders are accepted, I believe Dean, Smith, and Tardiff will be coaching for three wins but wins in a stylish and dominating manner.
Part Deux of the winning equation will be up to Barrett Hayton. Young Barrett has had a huge target and bullseye on the back of his jersey since he’s backed up the fact that Arizona was right in selecting him high in the draft.
Since I am not in the opposing teams dressing rooms, I can only speculate; and this is what I see game in and game out since the return of Hayton from the World Juniors. There has been a commitment by opposing teams to play a man on man game with Barrett and rough him up and get him off of his game.
I have seen too often lately where Barrett has tried to play his game but is taking liberties by opposing players and unfortunately he is not sticking up for himself enough to send a message. I understand Barrett’s game is on the ice and not in the penalty box, but he needs to straighten out this treatment soon or he’ll be less of a factor come playoff time.
In a day of little to no fighting it wouldn’t be smart to drop the mitts ; the last thing Barrett needs is bruised or broken fingers to keep him from a good playoff run. What I would like to see; and many agree with me, is for the young power forward to return the favor he has been getting recently with a face wash, nice light chop to the back of the calve, or a little extra inertia in his body checks ; especially to the robots sent out to get him off his game. Everybody knows, you are more likely to think twice about that second encounter if the first one wasn’t pleasant. Imagine what Jordan Smith would do if you started to take liberties against him or his teammates; we all know.LOL.
Barrett, everybody knows you are a gifted leader and future NHL’r but you need to step up your A game. A is for anger. If #27 adjusts in this area, the sky is the limit for this dynasty of young pups this year.
So there we have if folks. Three nice home games and hopefully three nice wins. We are still within reach of first overall and will need some help from………teams like Saginaw….in particular Saturday night.
Go Hounds Go