We drove down to Kitchener this weekend for a belated Christmas with family which purposely coincided with a 67s visit with the Rangers. We were late getting to the game, but still got there well before puck drop because they were honouring Paul Coffey, former Kitchener Ranger. One of the few highlights of the afternoon was seeing Paul Coffey and then driving by his Nissan dealership.
It went downhill from there pretty quick.
McGinn - Couture - Lahey
Liscomb - Kiriakou - Bailey
Methot - Cowie - Alphonso
Ribeiro - Lindsay - Nesbitt
Not sure what the defensive pairings were, but the gamesheet lists: Joslin, Beard, Cuma, Vojta, Ryan, Demers. I can't remember seeing too much of Vojta or Ryan. Grimaldi was out for fighting the night before in Owen Sound, for which he received a 2 game suspension. Interesting that they moved Lindsay back to the 4th line. I like that kid a lot, and thought he made a valuable contribution to the second line. Morrison was in nets.
The 67s opened the scoring with a nice feed off the boards from Couture into the slot for Lahey. I think it was their first shot on net -- which sounds promising, but they were down something like 10-0 in shots at that point. Both teams were playing pretty sloppy in the first. They both had their opportunities but weren't able to capitalize on most of them. I thought the refs were letting the Rangers get away with too much in the first period. In the end, though, that didn't really matter because Ottawa never did get anything going on their powerplay. They went 0 for 6 and gave up 2 SH goals to Peter Tsimikalis. Both were simply a result of good forechecking and driving hard to the net. Kudos for Peter. I always liked him as a 67 and was sorry to see him leave. Anyways, Ottawa probably should have been declining PP opportunities on this night.
The first period ended 1-1 after Tsimikalis's first SH goal. Shots were 24-9 in favour of the Rangers. Ottawa was probably happy to get out of the period even. Joslin finished the period in the penalty box for holding. The Rangers powerplay carried over to start the second period, and they wasted no time. Couture won the faceoff at centre ice and the puck went back into the corner to the right of Morrison. Demers took his time getting back there and 2 Rangers came in on the forecheck. By the time Demers got there and shot it behind the net, another Ranger was already there on the boards to cut off the clearing attempt. A quick pass into the slot and the Rangers were up 2-1. Slow, sloppy effort by the 67s and hard forechecking by the Rangers would be a pattern for the rest of the game.
Liscomb scored at 5:51 to tie it up and give the 67s life once more, but then the Rangers came right back 25 seconds later to go ahead again 3-2. That's another pattern we're seeing all too often with the 67s lately. They always seem to be clawing their way back into games, only to give back the quick goals to throw themselves back into the pit. Maybe it's just a symptom of a young team. Basically, that goal pretty much did it in for Ottawa. Kitchener went on to score some more goals, and we left after the second period. It was pretty clear where this one was going. Shots after the second period were 46-19 for Kitchener.
3 stars - a bunch of Kitchener players.
Thoughts on the game: This was Ottawa's 3rd game in 2 1/2 days. Kitchener's team is stacked to compete in a strong Western Conference. The 67s didn't stand a chance. The Rangers are too quick and their breakouts were beating the Ottawa defence all night long. Joslin was maybe the only guy who didn't suck badly. Morrison made some really good saves, but he was left out to dry. I never really noticed Downie out there. At times I thought our first line outplayed their first line. The final shots on net were 64-22. I'm getting really tired of watching this team lose.
That said, the Aud's a great place to watch a hockey game. It's a great environment, fans are involved and loud, the music doesn't tear apart the speakers and make your ears bleed. I highly recommend that everyone try to get there for a game. Just wait until a year when the 67s are a little older and may be able to compete.