Crushers host Ramblers for Game 3 tonight at Wellness Centre
NEW GLASGOW – To win tonight the Weeks Crushers need to put forward a better effort than they did Saturday.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
The Weeks Crushers stretch during practice Monday afternoon at the Pictou County Wellness Centre. The team hopes to have a better effort tonight than they did Saturday as they host Amherst for Game 3 of their Eastlink Division semifinal series.
That’s the gist of what head coach Jason Malone said about what they need to focus on going into Game 3 of their Eastlink Division semifinal against the Amherst Ramblers. Had the Crushers won they would’ve been up 2-0 in the series, but with the loss the series is knotted at a game apiece.
“I think every game in a playoff series is important whether you’re up 3-0, down 3-0 or it’s Game 3 at home,” he said. “They’re all important. Every shift is important. We feel good about our group going into tomorrow night, but we definitely need to address things. I feel like individuals will address their own game and hopefully evaluate it and see that they need to be better. As a group we need to be better and I think we’ll be better in Game 3.”
In the series opener Pictou County was 3-6 on the power play against an undisciplined Ramblers team. In Game 2 the Crushers were 0-3 on the man advantage, which Ramblers head coach Jim Bottomley credited to being a strength of Pictou County. He believed shutting the Crushers power play down was a reason why they bounced back with their 4-1 win after falling 5-2 in Game 1.
Malone said scoring on a power play in the first may have made a difference in the game’s momentum, but overall they still needed a better effort.
“We had two opportunities on the power play early and didn’t capitalize,” said Malone. “The score stayed the same through the first period and, yeah, maybe if we capitalized on one of those two opportunities in the first we could’ve got some momentum, but as it stood it didn’t happen that way and we just couldn’t find a way to get anything going through the second and third.”
So far this series Malone has made no adjustments as to who is in the lineup – as Garrett Lambke and Tyler Doyle have been in the stands – but has shuffled his lines slightly.
Ross Martin was out of the Ramblers lineup for Game 2, as Bottomley brought in Nick MacDonald in his place. *Although it couldn’t be confirmed as the reason why Martin was taken out of the lineup, he took two penalties during Game 1 that led to two power play goals for Pictou County.
Asked if he would look at changing his lineup after the loss, Malone said it was something the coaching staff would look at, but he wouldn’t say if there would be any changes for Tuesday’s game.
“Well we had a lot of players play below average, in a polite term, on Saturday night,” he said. “You have to consider it, but at the same time you warrant having those conversations with those individuals and seeing what they’re going to bring to the table in Game 3. I’m not used to that many players playing a sub-par hockey game, especially a game of that magnitude, but we’re a veteran team and you have to think that guys will bounce back.”
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As Malone said multiple times prior to practice on Monday, their overall effort needs to be better tonight, but added that their five-on-five play specifically could use improvement. On Thursday he felt they controlled the play, even when they didn’t have the puck, but on Saturday felt that it was like his team was “in cement.”
“That’s not normal for our group because we’re normally setting and dictating the pace and style of play that we want to play,” said Malone. “It just seemed on Saturday night that we were allowing the game to come to us and we were watching the game pass us by. I don’t have an answer as to why, but hopefully that will change going into tomorrow.”
There are no major concerns about his No. 1 goaltender Brandon Thibeau, who will get the start again tonight, according to Malone. He said last season’s playoff performance by Thibeau meant he had some high expectations to live up to this year.
The coaching staff hope as the series and playoffs progress they will see that intensity in their goaltender’s play that they witnessed last year in the division semifinal against Truro.
“The expectation for Brandon from last year’s playoff was he was going to be a wall, but that hasn’t been the case (yet) this year,” he said. “I think that he’s been good. When we got up early in Game 1 he was there for us and he kept the game within reach for us on the road in Game 2, but with that being said everybody can be better and he’s included in that ballpark of players that need to up their game and their intensity.”
Puck drop tonight is scheduled for 7 p.m.
*Martin is serving his second game of a two-game suspension for his third hit to the head penalty tonight, as per cumberlandnewsnow.com today.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris