Last week saw the St. John's IceCaps win series opening games against the Portland Pirates and Norfolk Admirals before dropping the second game in their back-to-back's.
This check-in will be a little short and not so sweet. Why? Because of the few home IceCaps' games during the past week and a half, I decided to attend the two that were losses. Shutout losses.
On top of the offense drying up over the last three games -- they have only scored 3 goals over that span -- the goaltending has looked pretty weak so far this season. Edward Pasquale sports a .901 SV% through six starts, while Mark Dekanich -- who was supposed to really push him for rights to the crease -- is at a meager .895 SV%. It's still early, but it's hard not to get nervous over the tandem's Pavelecian start.
The IceCaps aren't as good as they were for most of last season, or at least they aren't yet. The team is dearly missing their best defenseman in Paul Postma, as well as a key piece up front in Patrice Cormier. Cormier's possesses a good two-way game, so his exclusion from the line-up hurts badly on both sides of the puck. Cormier is expected to be out for up to an additional four weeks with a lower body injury, so don't expect to see him any time soon.
With Postma out, the team has been forced to give Zach Redmond, Derek Meech and Dean Arsene extended playing time, which has seen mixed results. Arsene and Meech are a nightmare defensively but Redmond has held his own, leading IceCaps' defensemen in scoring. On a positive note, it looks as though this weekend will spell Postma's season debut, adding solidarity to the back-end. His return should balance things out and his ability to move the puck up ice will put added pressure on his opponents.
Other than that there isn't a whole lot new to report on. Like I said, both games I watched (Norfolk 2-0, Portland 4-0) were pretty dreadful overall.
Some of the same stories continue to play out; Ivan Telegin continually looks good, Spencer Machacek has been Spencer Machacek, and Alexander Burmistrov is the best player on the team, as he should be.
Over the next week and a half the IceCaps take to the road for five games against five different opponents: Portland, Worcester, Providence, Manchester and Hershey. It will be the first meeting of the year in all but Portland -- against whom they were supremely outplayed, despite managing a split in St. John's last week.
Four of the five games are divisional, with the exception of Hershey. Manchester currently leads the Atlantic with a 5-1-0-0 record and a +12 goal differential. The IceCaps are currently sporting a -5 in that category and a modest 4-4-0-0 record. Not bad, but certainly not good.