Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Blown Leads

Sports is all about corny sayings and at times dumb superstitions. In hockey perhaps the strangest of beliefs is the 3 goal lead.

For reasons that have escaped us among our combined hundreds of years in watching the sport; it almost never fails that when a team goes up by 3 goals that they find a way to blow that lead.

That was the case for the 2 Ranger prospects in action on Tuesday evening. Both teams were facing teams that they should have no problem beating but yet thanks to their own screw ups one team won in the shoot out while the other lost.

In Medicine Hat, Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) and his Tigers were facing the Chilliwack Bruins in a game that really never should have gone to the shoot out. The Tigers jumped out to a first period lead of 2-1 and then 5-2 in the second period. The Tigers took the 3rd period off allowing the Bruins to comeback to tie the score and send the game into first overtime then the shoot out.

In the shootout, the Tigers scored on both their shoot out attempts to wind up with a 6-5 win.

Kundratek did not play bad netting an assist for his 9th assist and 10th point of the season. Kundratek was also was even for the game but has picked up a habit that we hope he breaks. For the 3rd straight game, Kundratek took a penalty giving him 12 minutes in his last 3 games and now 30 PIMs on the season.

We bring this up as we have noticed that Kundratek has dropped back to the second pair on the Tiger blueline. A player like Kundratek needs realize that he does not help his team when he is in the penalty box.

It is also going to be interesting in the next couple of weeks as the Tigers are about to add a player to their defense corps who we believe will free up Kundratek for offense. His name is Bo Montgomery and he is a huge 6'5 200 lb defender who we think will make an excellent partner for Kundratek.

Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) and his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies had a 3-0 first period lead but like the Tigers gave it away by allowing the Gatineau Olympiques to score 3 unanswered goals over the second and third periods to force overtime and then a shoot out.

Unlike the Tigers though, the Huskies did not score on any of their 3shoot out attempts as Lafleur allowed one shot to get by him and the Tigers cost themselves a point in the standings and possibly down the road in QMJHL playoff seedings.

Lafleur stopped 26 out of 29 shots during regulation and overtime; of those shots 9 were rated as "dangerous scoring chances". In the goals that Lafleur gave up 2 were breakaways where Lafleur got zero defensive support from his teammates.

The record books will show that Lafleur took the loss here but this is one of those times when Lafleur gets blamed for a loss where his teammates actually let him down.

No more goals after the first period, nothing in overtime and nothing in the shootout. You hope your goal can keep you in games but when he does not get support then the results are a 4-3 shootout loss to a team that now trails you by just 2 points in the standings.

(Kundratek courtesy of Medicine Hat, Lafleur courtesy of Rouyn-Noranda)

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