As the above video of Jeremy Roenick shows accuracy was a skill set that he possesed. Jeremy could basically fall out of bed and perform in that skills competition. Unlike the slop that we are watching here. With the Florida Panthers firing 55 shots at Atlanta Thrashers goaltender Chris Mason and only coming up with three goals, the Cats decided to practice on accuracy Thursday. Good idea, cause as the title of this post indicates, these guys are not sharpshooters by any means. As Don Cherry alluded to on Coaches Corner Saturday night, at least if you shoot low, or on ice level you’ll likely generate a rebound which could generate a second shot. However shooting at the goalies crest will generate nothing other than a whistle and a faceoff. One would think that with 55 shots on goal, that the Panthers had control of the game. Maybe, but they didn’t bury their chances.
We’re talking Chris Mason, not Patrick Roy. But on most night’s it doesn’t matter as the Panthers seem to make any goalie look as though he’s the next Marty Brodeur. The last accurate shooter the Panthers had was the Russian Rocket himself, PavelBure , who as we know is long gone, but never forgotten. Hell, at this point I’d settle for Bob Kudelski.
David Booth who had nine, yes nine shots on goal Wednesday night is going to have to sink at least one of those. He is our biggest scoring threat at the moment, and if we’re lucky he’ll get 25 goals. Booth currently leads the team with 39 shots and has 4 goals. Contrast that to Chris Higgins who has 22 shots but only one goal. Steve Bernier who has only 11 shots and one goal. Rusty Olesz has 23 shots and two goals and of course the ass hat known as Little Stevie has 21 shots and one goal, which was a redirect off his skate. Most of his shots little Miss Rat Trick could stop using her fast pitch softball shin guards.
It’s quality not quantity. When the Cats muster all these shots in a game, it’s usually not a good sign. When I watch where most of the shots come from, they are long distance wristers, or shots from the perimeter. We still are missing that net presence trying to create traffic in front of the net. We don’t need more shots. We need more accurate shots and more shots that goaltenders actually have to struggle to save. Hey, how about causing a goalie to move from post to post once in awhile? How about trying a wrap around? What’s wrong with coming down on a two on one breakaway and having the guy with the puck shoot instead of pass? If I see one more drop pass I’m gonna shoot someone!
For a team that’s not loaded with fancy players, we tend to try and make fancy plays, only to be thwarted by whatever goalie is in net. Essentially making him look as though he’s standing on his head, when he’s actually barely breaking a sweat. Most of Wednesday night, Bill Lindsey the Panthers T.V. analyst was yaking about how Mason seemed to be fighting the puck, and that eventually he’d let one in. Well from my viewpoint, the only thing Mason was fighting was deciding if he should hold the puck for a whistle or play it.
The other issue is we don’t have finishers. Most of our guys just can’t score when it’s absolutely necessary. It’s not a slap in the face, but when your roster is built of players that are primarily third and fourth liners, this is what you get. With the exception of David Booth, our top six couldn’t be on anyone else’s top six, and are more suited for the bottom nine. What they need to do is stay off the boards and get into the slot more and create some chaos and havoc in front of the net. Take more shots from close range, and force the goalie to move and even handle the puck on dump ins.
Without a consistent forecheck and pressure on the defence, the season is going to continue this way. Since we have traded away players like Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton we have not replaced their production. Both trades netted us defencemen. Granted Horton needed to go, but his replacment seems to be Chris Higgins who’s struggling. I’ve been screaming for the last ten years for a pure scorer, but that yell is not being heard.
Until that call is answered, we’ll continue to miss our chances and not score on opportunities that are blatantly obvious. Again, it’s not an excuse, it’s a reason.
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