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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I returned to action Wednesday against Rio Grande Valley. My leg was pretty sore, but I should be good to go.

In my two games I watched from the stands, I was able to learn a lot.

We’re a fast and exciting team. We didn’t give up many chances and when we did, we have two of the best goalies in the league to back us up. We have a great young nucleus that is just starting to learn Scott Muscutt’s systems. Once we all buy-in we’re going to be fine.

Our goaltenders are the backbone of our team right now. Johnny and Kenny are making huge saves for us right now. We are going to need that from them the whole year to be successful. It’s nice having that chance every night to win because of your goaltenders.

I learned some things about our power play, too.

We have to get guys in front of the goaltender. We had chances to shoot, but there was no one in front. We have to get crashing and keep it simple – move the puck, shoot the puck. We were moving it really well we just didn’t have those guys in front of the net.

Saturday I did the color commentary with Justin Scholtes.

Justin does a great job. It's never easy to replace someone like Steve Mears, but he does a great job. He calls a great game. He takes a lot of pride in what he does. He’s like Mearsy in many ways. Hopefully he’ll learn down here and move on like Mearsy.

I gave him a little jabs during the broadbast like I used to Steve. I didn’t want to give him all at once. I had to give him a couple to let him know I was there.

I heard some funny things about my outfits this weekend. Everyone just wanted to buy my cane off me. Maybe it will go on eBay. I’m going to need a little money for Christmas.

I'm off to spend Thanksgiving with my father-in-law Don Long. I have a buddy coming into town from Canada, too.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'll probably be out for a couple of games

Thanks to a two-handed slash to the back of the leg from Lubbock's Paul McBrien, I will likely miss at least a couple of games.

It happened in the first period and I came back, but today the swelling and blood went to it. We got tangled up and he swung at me with a two-hander.

I don't think it was caught on tape, so I'm not sure a suspension will be handed down from the league, but that was a personal intent to injure.

He got kicked out because it was right in front of the referee Ryan Sweeney.

We were only up one goal and Jason Williamson ended up grabbing him. Not much happened, because you can't get personal when you're only up a goal. Maybe if you're up a few then you can go and take care of some business, but he was already kicked out.

He should get four games at least. My feeling is, I'm probably going to miss two games, so I feel they should have a new rule where your suspension doesn't start until the player you injure returns.

I might as well have gotten a two-game suspension since I'll be out due the injury.

This isn't what we need right now, we're already banged up, but I think the boys are going to play well tonight. We had a little meeting after last night's game.

The boys will respond tonight.

We have good movement, but we're either putting it over the net, or just to the side of it. The plays Musky is drawing up are working, the puck's just not going in right now.

We have to keep shooting, keep crashing the net and that's when things will happen.

I don't think we were happy with the effort in Lubbock. It was really a power-play/penalty kill kind of game and those tend to throw you off. But that is no excuse. We still have to work hard.

That's Musky's frustration right now. We do it one night, but not the other.

We've been one of the hardest-working teams in the league for years. We have a new core of guys and we all have to buy in to Musky's hard-working system because he does know how to win.

I didn't get a chance to talk to my former teammate Craig Minard last night. I wish I did. He played really well for Lubbock.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The confidence is building

It’s taken me a couple of days to get back to everyone, but everyone is still thrilled about Saturday’s comeback victory at Wichita.

It was a must win in our eyes. You can’t get behind the 8-ball that early in the season and expect to come back That’s never an easy building to play in and I thought the guys played really well.

Once we got that first goal, we got a little bit of confidence and we just kept coming.

I really give credit to Musky and how he had us focused in that game. We got a penalty late in the game and a penalty in overtime. Normally we’re complaining, but he said, “you know what boys, we have to kill these” and he put our focus in the right direction.

That a great credit to the coach and some of the leaders like Forbie, Brass and Quade.

I got a chance to end things in the shootout. I went 0-for-2 this year so far, so I needed to get one under my belt and not give them another shot. It felt good.

I went shelf. I tell all the young boys you have to be a salesman out there. I faked a shot, pulled it to my forehand and went upstairs.

It’s been a good feeling since Saturday. We didn’t get our 4 points last weekend, but this season we talk about it all the time -- it’s a process. It’s a long year and every game you have to learn from your situations.

Forbie stepped up in the room after the Tulsa game and told us we can’t worry about the ref, we have to worry about not taking so many penalties. That killed us, taking a lot or penalties, and that was a big part of our losses.

I have to step up and not take as many. The boys recognize they can’t take as many, either. When you recognize your mistake, it is a step forward. When you keep on making the same mistake, the process isn’t there.

Fans will get their first chance to see Kyle Musselman on Thursday at the CenturyTel. Center. This kid hits like a truck. He ran over a couple of guys this weekend. He keeps his game simple and works hard out there. I think he’s going to provide a lot toughness we’ve been lacking the past few years. With him and Chris Murphy, we have a couple young kids that add that dimension.

Hopefully we can continue the momentum from the last 40 minutes against the Thunder. Hockey is a game of confidence. Sometimes when you have so much confidence, the net feels like it’s a soccer net. When you don’t, it feels like it’s half a net to shoot at.

Our team needs a little confidence. We’re getting to know each other and know each others’ roles – that plays a key factor in our style of hockey. We play a D system, we’re not going to win games 5-1 or 5-2, it’s normally 2-1 games and 3-1 games. New guys are just learning how to play in those tight games. We’re stressing defense and Musky’s systems takes a little while to get used to and he’s doing a good job teaching these young guys.

What else can you say about John DeCaro.

Johnny filled in for Ken Carroll and has been our best player by far this year. He’s stood on his head. We probably should have been down five more goals in Tulsa and he stood on his head. Then he played a great game in Wichita, that’s not an easy place to play when you have guys like Travis Clayton and Jason Duda shooting pucks at you all night. They are pretty opportunistic.

He’s a good young goalie.

Friday, November 03, 2006

We must begin to work hard

We haven’t had any ice back in Bossier City, so we’ve been up here in Tulsa for the past few days getting ready for tonight’s game against the Oilers.

Forbes MacPherson and Karlis Zirnis flew back in to be with the team yesterday. Forbie was in Canada after the death of his father and Karlis had some more things to take care of back in Nashville.

Musky ran us through some pretty hard practices the past couple of days. He’s trying to get our worth ethic going. He wants us to have a high standard. We’ve been one of the hardest-working teams in the league and it’s won us a lot of hockey games.

We got a little outworked in Memphis and he saw that as a problem, so we’re getting our work boots on, our hard hats on and getting back to Mudbugs hard-working hockey.

It starts in practice, the little things. In practice we have 60-80 pucks on the ice, but when we did our drills we only had one. If a player loses a puck, has to stop on and go get that puck, he can’t pick up another one. It’s just a drill we work on and get rid of bad habits and not take the easy way out. It gets things done and gets points on the board.

Get an experienced guy like Forbie, it gives us such a big lift. I think he’s excited to get back at it it. We have a lot of young guys that look up to him. He’s going to be a big part of this team and winning this year.

Right now we are working on communication in our D zone. We’ll start with the D zone, then go to the neutral zone and then focus on the offensive zone. But right now we have to take it one step at a time. It just takes a little time. I think the young guys are catching on pretty quick and hopefully we’ll have a good weekend and everything works out for us.

We went to the mall. I hate that. I’ve seen every mall in this league. They are all the same and they aren’t getting better. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.