(Editor's note: This column was written prior to the Wolves' Feb. 26 game vs. the Soo Greyhounds)
I’ve been saying that it’s good the Wolves current slump is happening now instead of when the playoffs start.
Unfortunately, I started saying that about three weeks ago, fully expecting the team to have worked out its problems by now. Instead, the slump continues without a lot of evidence things are getting any better.
After a 3-2 loss to the Erie Otters Monday night, the Wolves record in February dropped to 3-6-0-1. That compares to a record of 22-11-0-2 in November, December and January that included one stretch that saw the team go 16-2.
The run helped the Wolves take over top spot in the Central Division and become legitimate contenders for a run at an Eastern Conference title.
However, the slump could mean the team may not finish February at the top of the division and some serious doubts have surfaced about the team’s ability to compete in the playoffs at a level that will be needed to keep those championship aspirations intact.
It continues to be a real mystery as to why things have taken such a drastic turn. There is no question injuries have certainly played a role. It’s tough for any team to keep winning at a 16-2 pace, but having three and four regulars out of your line up on a nightly basis would make it extremely hard for any team to keep their head above water.
That said, injuries do give other players a chance to step up and fill the void. Anybody playing on the third or fourth line should be chomping at the bit to get the chance to move up the depth chart and contribute on a more regular basis.
I don’t think that’s happened consistently, and the team’s play of late is evidence of this.
Some say the trade deadline deals that saw Radek Faksa and Trevor Carrick come to Sudbury has affected the chemistry that existed when the team was winning. I’m on the record already, saying I don’t think that’s the case.
Still, the results since the trade have been anything but impressive.
Head Coach Paul Fixter has been critical of his team’s compete level.
Not enough players showing up on to put in the work needed to record more wins than losses. This is something that really has me stumped.
I just can’t imagine the players don’t realize this team has the potential to be a real contender when it comes to the playoffs. They had the spark just a few short weeks ago. All they should have to do is go back in their memory banks to when the wins came in bunches.
They don’t have to go far back in time to remember how much fun it was to come to the rink and get those results.
But time is running out for the Pack to get back on track. The regular season is quickly winding down and the ship still hasn’t been turned around.
The good news is that there is still time to get playoff ready. It’s amazing what a few wins can do to a team’s confidence. It may sound like a cliché, but winning is contagious.
After a slow start to the season, the Wolves figured it out in mid-November and went on an incredible winning streak. The challenge to the players over the next couple of weeks is to go back and figure out how to get it back. There’s just too much talent on this team to see it all slip away.
Stew Kernan is the radio and television voice of the Sudbury Wolves, and the News Director at KiSS 105.3 and Q92.