11/07/2014 12:32 PM
Over the course of the Beast’s 2014-15 season play-by-play announcer, Jordan Walsh, will be providing Beast fans with an in depth look of the team both on and off the ice. Walsh will break down in detail all Beast games, as well as mix in various team related stories, in an opinionated blog type format. Entry one is below, breaking down Brampton’s poor start and their most recent game, a 5-1 loss at the hands of Quad City Mallards.
Here we are five games into the 2014-15 season, the Beast’s very first in the ECHL. So far, the entry into the ECHL has been rather unwelcoming and even a nightmare at times for Brampton. Despite showing some signs of promise, the Beast have only managed to muster up one point in the standings out of a possible 10, compliments of an OT loss at Elmira. But is it time to panic about the year at hand in Brampton? I don’t think so. Not just yet, anyway.
Before we take a look at why Brampton has begun the year like this, let’s keep in mind that due to the late “merge” and schedule re-shuffling, this team was not able to play exhibition games, putting them at a disadvantage right out of the gate. No excuses, but it does need to be considered. Also, until last night vs. Quad City, all of the Beast’s games were against teams that played in the ECHL last season which is regarded as a faster, higher tempo league than the CHL. It goes without saying that it will take some time to adjust to the higher paced game.
If there has been one thing that’s been positive about this seasons Beast club it is undoubtedly their unwillingness to quit. Twice Brampton has trailed by two or more goals and battled back to eventually tie the game. They once trailed by FOUR and mounted a third period come back that would have been one for the ages, but fell just one goal shy. Still, that night in Elmira could have been ugly. Real ugly. But, instead, the Beast pulled it together and managed to make it a hockey game when a lot of other teams likely would have pulled chute. They’ve shown that, at the very least, they’re not going to go down without a fight in games that they put themselves behind the eight ball. Which leads me to believe that such will be the case in terms of their season.
However, in order to remedy their troubles and get rolling, they’re going to have to begin starting games on time. What do I mean by that? The Beast haven’t exactly done themselves any favors with the way they play at puck drop, falling behind by two, three and even four goals before making their first mark on the score sheet in three out of their first five games. Also, Brampton has been outscored 6-1 in the first period through five games this season.
Things do get better in the second frame, where the Beast have scored more than half of their goals (7). With that said, the middle period is also where Brampton has allowed their most goals against (9). These statistics suggest that entering the second period the Beast are trailing more times than not and begin attempting to push the play with offense at the front of the mind, creating more opened up, run-and-gun style of hockey which always results in more goals…both for and against. It’s a double edged sword and one that you have to roll the dice on when you’re trailing in hockey games, which ties back to the Beast’s poor starts.
So just how does Brampton improve their play in the early stages of games and prevent having to battle back every night? Let’s start by taking a look at shots taken by the Beast in each period of play. The numbers are actually quite shocking: in period one, the beast have taken 46 shots through five games. Period two, 47 and 49 in the third. Not exactly light years of difference. What is significantly different is the teams shooting percentage (percentage of shots that turn into goals) in each period, which is 2.17% in the first, a scorching 14.89% in the second and a slightly below average 6.12% in the third. Despite taking just one more shot in five 2nd periods than five 1st periods, Brampton has produced six more goals in period #2 than #1.
Typically when a team is experiencing poor results fresh out of the gate like Brampton, the answer is to throw the puck on goal more. This may very well be the case, but not based on these shooting percentage numbers. These suggest that Brampton is pickier with their shots in the second than in the first, producing higher quality scoring chances which in turn results in more goals and a higher shooting percentage. But why can’t the Beast establish those same quality chances in the first?
We start to get a bit clearer of a picture when we look at shots against per period. In terms of shots that the Beast allow against per period, that number decreases as the game goes along. Brampton has allowed 81 shots against in the first, 79 in the second and 73 in the third through five games. Which means that they are spending slightly more time hemmed in their own zone in the opening 20minutes than in the next forty. As a result, Brampton is obviously in the offensive zone less and, when they are, their panicking with the puck and taking whatever shot they can get.
This could be a reason for their offensive success in period two, where they, on average, allow fewer shots against and generate more shots for. Based on these stats, the Beast are not only in the offensive zone more and have more time to create quality chances in the second, but they are also in their own zone slightly less. Meaning that when they are able to get out of their own end and set up an attack, they have the talent and capability to put the puck into the net at a scary rate. However, due to their poor starts, it’s more often than not too little, too late to pull out the win. But this gives us educated hope that this team can score and teams that score, win. Patience. This thing will come around when the Beast ice better opening periods, which, as this team gains familiarity and develops chemistry, should come much sooner than later.