Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Open Letter To The Coaches From Silent Bob

Power(less) Play

An open letter to the coaching staff of the Bridgeport Soundtigers….Since the team’s inception, our Power Play has been rather anemic at best. Some commonly heard phrases around the rink when Adam announces are power play include “The AAA piss two minutes away” power play, or “why don’t you run 2 minutes off the clock, and give the other team two more shots on goal”. There’s no reason that we should feel so despondent about our man advantage; rather it should be something to get excited about! Instead of placing blame on the current coaches, here are a few suggestions:First, it all starts at the point. The “quarterback” of the power play has typically been one of the defenseman, or in many teams’ cases, a forward. Regardless of his regular position, this “quarterback” has to be someone who handles the puck extremely well, has great on-ice vision, and can be a leader on the ice. A guy like Robert Nilsson fits this role pretty well. Why not use him on the points more often? We’ve only seen him one game, but this kid Jamie Fraser seems like he might be a better choice as well. Second, make sure that you always have two guys who are willing to grind for the puck, fight for it in the corners, but still have the hands to make plays. Jeremy Colliton, Blake Comeau, Petteri Nokelainen, Frans Nielsen and Masi Marjamaki all come to mind. Keep these names in mind for a point made a bit later. The player in front of the net has to be better than Steve Reiger. Nothing against you Steve, but you’re just not cutting it. My vote would be to use a guy like Eric Boguniecki. He’ll take the abuse in front of the net, and has better hands. Want a radical suggestion? Use Kevin Mitchell. When Reiger is in front of the net he gets pushed around too easily, doesn’t always screen the goalie effectively, and is hardly in position for a good rebound. Mitchell can probably do these things more effectively. He knows how to read the goalie’s angles, where he’ll be looking at all times. If the coaching staff still wants to use Reiger in front of the net, its their choice, but at least educate the guy a little better. Sit him down with video of Dino Ciccerelli and Phil Espositio. Those guys knew how to stand in front of the net; hell Ciccerelli made it his career. The one thing they did better than anyone is lower their center of gravity. They always stood with their stick out in front of them, hoping for deflections of low shots, and making it impossible for anyone to move them out of the way. Ciccerelli wasn’t a big guy, the only player in the league with less stature was Theo Fleury, but he found away to create a presence in front of the net. Put this type of player in place, and you’re almost guaranteed more havoc in front of the net. Next suggestion, create more action/flow on the ice. Most of the effective power plays happen because a player on the ice isn’t accounted for. Our power play has always been too stagnant and predicable. Move around a bit. Make the guys on the PK work hard. If our point guy has good on-ice vision like I’ve suggested, he’ll find an open player quickly. Hopefully it’s someone who’s in good position to take a one-timer, not someone who has to stop the puck before he shoots. If we keep things flowing well, good things WILL happen. Sooner or later we’ll isolate a shooter and be in position to take some good shots. Final suggestion, be aggressive! When we have the extra player on the ice, use him! Any time the team on the PK loses the puck, we should have two of our guys on him. Show that we want the puck! We can’t treat the puck as if we’re afraid of it! These are just a few suggestions, I think we’d all love to see a more effective power play. At least change the perception that it’s waste of two minutes.

Monday, January 1, 2007

There Has To Be A Change Soon

Pathetic, underwhelming and wretched. This team is downright terrible. The shame of it is that they are loaded with talent and have no one to put it together.

There is so much to say I don't know where to start. So, let's start with the utterly ridiculous and work our way up the inane.

First, when the River Rats are ahead 7 - 1 the sound guy should NOT play "Rock You Like A Hurricane". I can't be the only one who knows that the Hurricanes are the parent club for the River Rats (especially since they announce it before the game!). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Second, the games in the intermissions just keep getting worse. To have kids shoot on net is a great idea, to have Dave call one of them cocky and then has them shoot from farther away is terrible. This one only gets two "Dumb"s.

Third, it's about time that they start giving "Fan of the Game" awards to the people who have been around supporting the team. To see Andy Gardecki get it was truly one of the smarter moves. Giving it to people in the past like "J-Tizzle" who walked around slurring expletives was sending a terrible message. Now, on to the game:

The first thing that comes to my mind is "Where were we?" Although Mole cannot be blamed for the entire range of scores by the other team, one has to wonder why Thompson was never put in? Did Marshall give up and just tell Mole that he has to grin and bear it? Kind of odd coming from the guy who pulled Thompson after 3 goals a few games ago.

The Tigers were outshot 38 - 23. This has become a standard. The thing that is not a standard was that at one point in the game the Rats were scoring once for every three shots taken. Only two people on the Tigers were in the plus side of the plus/minus ranking: Regier and Boguniecki. The scorers were Boguniecki, Fraser (which looked very good...note to the Islanders - keep Rourke, Fraser did more in one game than Rourke did all season) and Tambellini (no surprise there). To the contrary, there were only two people on the River Rats in the minus and I think the waterboy was the only person who didn't get a point.

I was fortunate enough to read "The Lifeboat" blog, which is fantastic, and saw some quotes from Regier "You're going to see a whole new team in 2007" (We should be so lucky) and Wotton "The passion to work, it needs to be there, and it obviously wasn't today" (I can't reall the last time I saw him play and entire game with passion) And, of course, my favorite, Dan Marshall "The little things are building" (what team is he watching?).

Section 105 started the "Marshall must go" chant and I was glad to hear that it caught on (with any luck it will continue to drown out that blasted cowbell). It is time for some new leadership for the team. It's time for Dan to open his eyes and see that the team is terrible and there are hundreds of do-or-die fans, such as myself, who are tired of seeing it. What I think quite a number of fans would love to hear is some honesty. For someone to come out and say, "Listen, we screwed up and what we are doing isn't working. We will do our best to make changes and to go in a new direction. Not "the little things are coming along". Stop spitting in my hair and calling it rain.

My understanding is that the team had a knock-down drag-out meeting after the game the other night and, according to Regier, it cleared the air. Stevie-boy, if you think that a conversation after the game is gonna spark a winning streak you got another thing coming. I know that Garth Snow gave them a verbal thrashing, I know that Ted Nolan came to watch the game against the Bears and I realize that people feel its about the 'passion'. Wake up guys. Passion without viable plans and plays has never won games.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results. Does that sound familiar Dan? Look at who these people were and what their stats were under different coaches, now look what they are under you. See a difference? You need look no further than the Islanders to see that anything is possible under the right coach.

I am a die-hard fan and will never give up on rooting for the Tigers, but they also have to help themselves. Bite the bullet, change coaches and show everyone how you are serious about making this team better.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tigers Lose To The Falcons

The Sound Tigers continue their Marshall-led streak into oblivion after losing their third straight. The Falcons, who are now on a four game winning streak, is continuing an impressive record that sees that 6-3-0-1 in the past 10 and 4-0-0-0 in the last 4.

Bridgeport out shot the Falcons 37 to 27, but could only manage a goal by Steve Regier in the second period. Assists came from Nielsen and Boguniecki.

This moves the Tigers to 13-15-1-3 with a three game losing streak.

Tonight, to fill the spot that Rourke had, you will see 21 year old Jamie Fraser from the South Carolina Stingrays who is on a PTO. The Stingrays are in the ECHL. He comes bearing 5 goals and 23 assists in 27 games. He briefly served with the Syracuse Crunch, but registered no points. Compare this to Rourke who had 3 goals and six assist in 29 games with the Tigers.

Oh, by the way, Rourke did score the game winning goal against the Islanders last night (refer to my last blog). By going to the Island he single handedly stopped DiPietro's shutout streak at home and forced a loss in a game with a four point swing. I am all for understanding that people make mistakes. I also understand that we had the entire game to score again and we didn't. My only point is that he had no business going up that high for a puck that was nowhere close to going in the net thereby also blocking DiPietros line of sight. Not smart.

To quickly go over tonights game, the River Rats come into town with a win and a 7-3-0-0 streak on their hands. We need to stop them and get the ball rolling on our end. It's still not too late, but we need to open our eyes and see that it will be soon.

One last thing...the article about Marshall playing music, writing music and practicing stick in hand? Save it. If you want fans to be interested put some points in the win column.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Player Update

Allan Rourke has been recalled by the New York Islanders to replace Radek Martinek who is out for four weeks.

As of this writing Allan has scored already...for the New Jersey Devils. Allan put his hand up to block a shot that was well above his head (meaning it was going to clear the net EASILY, it was nowhere near going in) and he knocked it down past DiPietro and in for the New Jersey Devils.

Allan, as you may remember, is one of the defensemen for the Tigers who has done little on the defensive end. Apparently, the Carolina Hurricanes thought the same thing I do of his talents as they got rid of him after a brief stint.

The Wolf Pack Does What The Rangers Can't

The Wolf Pack defeated the Tigers last night with a score of 3 - 2. This is more than the Rangers can muster as they have been 0 - 3 with the Islanders thus far this year. That being said, this sucks the Tigers under the .500 mark to 13 - 14 - 1 - 3 and a ten game streak of 3 - 7- 0 - 0.

Mark Wotton (his first) and Jeff Tambellini (16 - 14 - 30) scored the only goals for the Tigers with assists coming from Boguniecki, Nolan and Nielsen. The problem, as it has been for some time, was a lack of defense (we had 33 shots against) and a no-show offense (only 22 shots from us). I must admit, however, that the Tigers did not look bad tonight. They appeared to be one step closer to working as a team and showed no signs of giving up. It was encouraging.

If you were in the arena, and listened at several times during the game, the calls for Marshalls ouster are growing louder and coming from more people. Take some time to look at the impressive stats of all the players brought in at the beginning of the year, and then look at them now. It is rare that you see such a group of talented individuals drop so low when put together as a team.

I was speaking with "Silent Bob", one of my guest bloggers, and he brought up a great point. If this were back in the Mike Milbury days, Dan Marshall would have been gone already. Mike had a way with getting rid of the anchors that weighed us down. Mike, could you come back for a guest appearance just to get us someone who can coach? Those of us who saw Ted Nolan in the stands were hoping he would be called in to sub for this game.

The thing that few seem to have acknowledged is that Nolan is putting together a world class hockey team. Thus far, however, Marshall has done little, to nothing, to do the same. If the Tigers are supposed to be the pool that the Islanders pull from this is truly handicapping Nolan. I know that Ted would never hang his organization out to dry and admit that, but that's because he is a classy guy whose sole purpose is to win hockey games and he has to rely on Dan doing his job (which he is not).

During an Islanders game one night they had an interview with Radek Martinek and they asked him why he came out of his shell this year and is playing so well. He stated that Nolan has a way of coaching that makes you want to play better and he makes them feel like a team. For those of you naysayers who say that the coach doesn't have that much of an impact and that it is solely the players need only look at the Islanders to start eating your crow. It's time for Dan to go.

One final question, and I would love to hear from someone who can answer this, is why did he leave Mole in the game last night? Mole did a great job, and I am not saying he should have been pulled, but Dan pulled Thompson under the same circumstances less than a week ago. I would love to understand why he does what he does.

Well, let's see how we do against the Falcons this evening. The Phantoms are only 4 points behind us and we play the River Rats on Sunday and they are 4 point ahead of us. We need some victories. We are 12th in the division and only 5 points out of 8th place. The problem is tha those 5 points are looking awfully big right now.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kyle and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!

Kyle Wilson scored two goals on 5 shots to lead the Hershey Bears to a 6 - 3 victory over the Tigers.

The Tigers showed flashes of brilliance in their loss to the Bears tonight at the Harbor Yard Arena. Despite never having the led the game, the Tigers appeared as though a comeback and a victory was possible through most of the game. With the Bears up 3 - 1 (the first Tiger goal put up by Frans Nielsen) Drew Fata and Jason Pitton scored to tie the game at 3 - 3. This, however, is where it all seemed to come apart. It should be noted that even though the score shows a somewhat lopsided victory, the Bears could not be accused of blatantly outplaying the Tigers. In fact, the Tigers looked strong in their passing game with the real weakness still being on defense.

One big thing that raised an eyebrow was the pulling of Billy Thompson with 3 minutes to go in the first period after the Bears had only three points on the board. I would question the judgement of Marshall on this one as two of those goals were clearly slips in the defense and only one could be shown to be a misjudgement by Billy. Many hanging in the same tree with me agreed that this was uncalled for, and probably not a real ego booster for Billy. I fully understand why one pulls a goalie, but there were two periods left, only three points for the opposing team and it could have easily waited until the intermission.

In the end, I think some things are still clear. First, the defense still needs work to keep pressure off the goalie. Thompson was pulled tonight and Mole didn't do much better. Who can expect them to when they are at the wrong end of a shooting gallery? Two, the offense seems to be getting better. They are passing better, showing hustle and they did keep the puck in the Hershey end for a commendable period of time. It's ironic how we do well against top ranked teams, yet do not against the bottom rung. My coach used to call that 'playing to the level of your opponent'. Three, there is too much talent to have this little unity this far into the season. The chants of "Dan must go" were heard at the end of the game and I agree. Perhaps he is the one who should be sent to Pensacola.

On a final note, we did not see Koalska tonight. He was released by Hershey and we probably won't be seeing him anytime soon. It's too bad. He was a solid player, a genuine person and great with kids. Good luck, Matt, we'll miss you.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Third Is The Charm

The third period was the charm last night as the Tigers were outplayed and outhustled in the first and only slightly recovering in the second. The third, though...the third was the charm. They got a well deseserved victory over the Monarchs 2 - 1.

The game started off with the Monarchs giving a passing and skating seminar. They moved fluidly and their passes were crisp and clean. The Tigers seemed to find a solution for that in the second and the third was spent with the Monarchs struggling to keep the Tigers at bay. Over time was all Tigers with Nielsen putting in the game winner with a little over 6 seconds left. The Tigers truly deserved this one. They fought hard.

The final stats still showed the Tigers being outshot 30 - 27, but the boys managed to put up some plusses in the plus/minus column. Jeremy Colliton put the other puck in the net for the Tigers.

Justice was done this time, however, as the three stars included Billy Thompson who took the pounding and came out on top. Also, a small tip of the hat goes to Rick "Franken" Berry for managing only two minutes in the penalty box despite some great checking. I also need to give a wink to Drew "God" Fata for clearly besting Tim Jackman in a healthy round of fisticuffs. Lastly, a temporary farewell to Ogorodnikov and he heads down to Pensacola.

It should be noted in the diatribe, that the calls for Marshalls ouster have not died down. This team is clearly able to play as they did in the third period, and overtime, with consistency. A good coach could make that happen.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

OK, Can Dan Marshall Go Now...PLEASE?!?!

After two terrible losses, one to the Admirals and one to the Penguins, the Tigers are on a collision course with the Phantoms and Senators for last place. Oddly enough the Senators have already taken us to the cleaners on a number of occasions this year already.

Over the past two games the Tigers have only scored 3 goals versus having 12 scored against. This, along with having no one in the "plus" side of the plus/minus, has been a devastating road that leads away from the playoffs. The positive side is that this will eliminate any post season stress.

Good grief, even Tambellini had a bad game last night. That is a true harbinger of bad tidings.

Just a quick review. This drops us to a .500 win/loss record at 12-12-1-3, gives us a streak of 0-3-0-0 and in the past 10 we have 4-6-0-0.

It's not for lack of talent as we appear to be overflowing with it (no sarcasm intended). What we lack is anyone who can pull it together. I've called for it before and I will ask for it again...please let go of Dan Marshall.

All I want for Christmas is new coach, a new coach, a new coach. All I want for Christmas is a new coach so we have a shot at the playoffs.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Quick Note on Transactions

The Sound Tigers have recalled D Jason Goulet from Pensacola of the ECHL.

Ouch - The Tigers Lose to the Admirals.

The Tigers fell to 12-10-1-3 on the worst showing of the defense in quite some time. The Tigers allowed a season high 46 shots and lost to the Admirals 3 - 1. Has anyone considered giving Billy Thompson a raise for being the only one on the defense to show up?

I guess the offense didn't really do much better posting only 1 goal with 33 shots. It's really sad when more stuffed bears make it into the net than do pucks.

The long and short of this game is that the Tigers shined like a supernova in the first period, seemingly extending their great play from last game, then died. Anyone care to guess who had a team high 5 shots and an assist? All who screamed Tambellini are correct!

The only other person who is as consistent as Tambellini is Regier with his terrible play. It was noted, with some anger, that he had at least 6 turnovers in the game. This along with terribly lethargic play and one shot. He was even spotted redirecting a shot in front of the net, that was truly a gimme, putting it wide.

In the past ten games our record of 4-5-1-0 has only been surpassed by the lowly Phantoms at 3-7-0-0.

It's time for Dan Marshall and Steve Regier to go with my opposable thumbs holding the door.