Allan Crow on the lack of firepower within Fife Flyers ...
Two games, one weekend, zero points, six periods of hockey and just two goals scored. The numbers don’t add up for Fife Flyers.
Ice hockey is a stats-based sport and the raw data currently being analysed doesn’t make for uplifting reading.
Every team has its weekends of zero points, and every team has bad days at the office - matches where they play well but somehow just don’t close out.
But a team that can only muster two goals from 120 minutes of hockey is one with a problem. A big problem.
There’s a strange dichotomy at the heart of Flyers just now.
Leave them short-handed and they become a highly efffective, tight penalty killing unit.
Give them the extra man, however, and they spin round and round like luggage left unclaimed on the carousel at airport arrivals.
That perhaps sums up the lack of out and out firepower right now.
There are plenty of forwards on the bench, but they just ain’t ringing the red light with the regularity needed to haul this team off the foot of the table and stay in touch with the pack. The play-offs may not even be a speck on the horizon, but it’s the results this autumn that will make or break their hopes of making the post-season competition.
In a nutshell, Flyers need a sniper - a finisher with a clinical approach, and a no-nonsense attitude in front of the net; someone to sniff out the tips, scrap for the loose pucks and punish any defensive frailties.
And for that player to make an impact he needs the puck to be delivered with speed, precision and pace.
The groans of despair as Flyers opt for an infuriating extra pass instead of taking the shot are starting to become part of the hockey night soundtrack.
Right now the players seem happy to spin round the zone and try to tee-up someone - anyone - to take responsibility for pulling the trigger.
Bobby Chaumont is the current target. Last season his shots were lethal and his production hugely impressive. Right now he’s firing pucks as though he’s swinging a tennis raquet rather than a hockey stick.
But you cannot pin the blame on Chaumont - he’s a good player and a natural finisher, and will come good again. Give him the right line-mates - a successor to Haines, dare I say it - and he’ll respond immediately.
He is also just one of seven import forwards and none of them are racking up the numbers regardless of the permutations being sent out. No-one stands out as the goal-getter - the go-to guy you know will stack up the points no matter how tough the going gets to help grind out those vital road wins, and steal the points in 2-1 hockey games. Oh for a predatory centre ice ...
Time to change? Flyers either persevere and hope the current crop figure it out and forge the understanding crucial to all potent forward lines, or they bit the bullet and make some hard-nosed decisions.
Last season they lived off their superb home form to cover up their abysmal road trips, but that hasn’t happened so far, and that creates a problem. A big one.
They cannot hope to win a dog fight if their weapons run out of ammo after a shift or two.
The task now is to produce a forward line as tight and effective as the defence. Do that and Flyers will be able to put October behind them very, very quickly.
Do nothing, and it may be a long slow slog into winter ...
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