67's Wrap Up Long Week, Embark on Nine-Game Road Swing
A shuffling of the deck from Chris Byrne and the 67's may have set the team up better for the future, but it didn't help the 67's as they fell into an eight-game slide before Clint Windsor was finally able to register his first win as a 67 and the team was able to find the win column.
Windsor had less than 24 hours to settle in with his new team before he was put into action against the Mississauga Steelheads who had dealt him to Ottawa before the game.
"I'm sure there are a couple he would've liked back but I thought he was pretty calm in the net and he made some good stops,” said Byrne of his new acquisition, but it wasn't enough as the 67's dropped a 5-4 decision.
Windsor didn't have much of a chance two nights later as Ottawa came out flat in their worst effort of the year against the only team below them, the Peterborough Petes. Nick Ritchie had a hattrick as Peterborough added their second win of the year against Ottawa.
The 67's quick-strike powerplay didn't have any trouble, but their defence certainly did, as they allowed the opposition to put up another five-spot on them.
The team came home for a pair of home afternoon games, neither of which saw any points coming Ottawa's way. A 4-2 loss to Niagara and a 3-2 loss to Plymouth came in very similar fashion: too many penalties wore them out, and by the third period, it finally cracked.
The opposing powerplay was able to score the game winner on early third-period powerplays both nights and by the time Ottawa got their own opportunities, their top guys were out of gas.
"I thought we got tired killing penalties and when we got chances on the powerplay late in the game, I think some of the guys were worn out," Byrne stated after the Niagara game. The same could easily be said after Sunday's game against Plymouth as well.
Jacob Blair got the start on the Saturday to give Windsor a rest. Although the opening goal of the game was one he'd like to have back, he was solid, making 40 saves, and drawing praise from his coach, who said "it was great for him to get a start at home, he did a really good job."
"We had some good penalty kills. When you're killing that many it makes it tough. We put ourselves in a position where we were killing penalties too many times in the game."
If it weren't for a Tuesday night win over Kingston, a game where Steven Janes registered five points and Windsor had his first win as a 67, this team would've headed on a long roadtrip on the most sour note possible.
Instead, the 67's head out for a nine-game roadtrip just four points out of a playoff spot, and it's possible that this swing is the best thing to happen for the 67's. Being one of the few teams that doesn't practice in their own rink, home ice advantage barely exists in Ottawa this season.
*Byrne is confident in this current group's morale as they head on the road. "We have a lot of character and our guys are really solid on the bench and in the locker room."
*The 67's still boast a strong powerplay, and their penalty kill is stepping up to the plate as well, killing 18 of their last 20 shorthanded opportunities. Still, Byrne wants to see more from his team 5-on-5. "We would love to start scoring more even strength."
*Richard Mraz had some choice words on his way out of town. He told SlovakProspects.com that Byrne didn't give him enough icetime, nor did he give enoug constructive criticism on his play. Strong words for someone who played on a line with Sean Monahan at one point.
*Monahan doesn't seem to need a flashy winger on his side to continue dominating. He has an assist in 11 straight contests, usually with Steven Janes and Ryan Van Stralen as his linemates. Monahan was also ranked as the top OHL skater in Central Scouting's first rankings for the 2013 NHL Draft.
*Tyler Graovac has missed three straight games with what's believed to be a minor groin pull.
*The 67's have called up 2012 eighth round pick Kevin Groulx, who played against Kingston. He brings a Taylor Fielding-type of game to the table it seems. The 67's will also have 5th round pick Trevor Dulong with them on their road swing.