After some positive progress of late, the Melfort Mustangs were sent back down to earth last week with a trio of losses.
Against Flin Flon
The week could not have started out any worse for the Mustangs, as they were blown out 8-2 in Flin Flon on Jan. 24.
Trevor Blevins, the Mustangs’ head coach, pointed to odd man rushes against as a big problem for his team, noting they gave up six of the eight goals on odd man rushes, which is a recipe for disaster, no matter who the opponent.
“What we’ve kind of been struggling with this season has been our defensive play and it really came to light against a team that can take advantage of that with their speed and creativity.”
The Mustangs had a few days to work out their defensive mistakes from the Flin Flon game before they traveled south to take on Weyburn on Jan. 27.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the same issues continued to plague the team as they dropped a 6-3 decision to the Red Wings despite outshooting them 35-29.
“Just again, breakdowns on coverage and just not committed with an effort defensively,” said Blevins.
That poor defensive effort reared its ugly head again the following night in Estevan as they fell 5-4 to the Bruins, despite carrying the play and holding a 34-25 edge in shots.
“We outplayed them and outshot them, I thought we definitely outchanced them but [we] gave them quality opportunities. They took advantage of it, so it’s just a matter of we had 19 goals against this week and that’s unacceptable,” said Blevins.
Despite a 0-3 week and 19 goals against, Blevins said they did identify the fact that they outplayed both the Red Wings and Bruins for the most part as positives in an otherwise tough week.
“It’s just what could we do a bit better defensively as individuals which will translate into our play as a team so we’re really going to shore that up in the next 13 games heading into playoffs.”
Looking ahead, the schedule does not get any easier for the Mustangs as they welcome Flin Flon on Feb. 1 and the Hawks on Feb. 3 before making a return trip to Nipawin Feb. 4 for the back half of a home and home.
Entering those games, Blevins said the team will be spending a lot of time in the video room learning from their mistakes. He said the key will be for the team to buy into the systems.
“If we can improve on the defensive play we’re going to have the puck more and should be able to put up even more goals. We’ve got to look at it as a way to generate more offense too,” said Blevins, who notes that he does not think offense is a problem.