It was just one game
That’s all it was. Just one measly (albeit pretty crappy and disheartening) game.
They don’t get two wins for beating Las Vegas by five goals, and it’s not aggregate like soccer. It’s hockey – and it was just one game.
They play seven games for a reason. In fact, if it was a best of one, Las Vegas would already be ECHL Champions, having taken Game 1 by a score of 2-1. But it’s not – it’s a best of seven. And all that happened Tuesday night was a best of seven became a best of five – first one to win three more games gets the crown.
Here are the facts: after splitting the opening two games, Las Vegas now faces five upcoming games, three of which are on the road, and the final two at home. Florida is very good at home – undefeated in fact, posting a perfect 8-0 record through the 2012 postseason. Las Vegas, on the other hand, is just as good on the road, fighting at a 7-1 clip away from the desert on this Kelly Cup run.
Those are the numbers. But what do they all mean?
Simple – both teams are very, very good, and this series is far from over. In fact, it means the Wranglers, for the first time all postseason, have their hands full with a very potent Everblades team, as we found out Tuesday night.
But the fact remains, Tuesday was just one game. It was an awful game, yes. A no-good-very-bad game. You know it, I know it, the boys know it.
But that’s exactly it. It was a bad game. Was. And now it’s in the past.
7-2 looks bad. But that’ll happen from time to time. Again, that’s why they play seven games.
In the first of those seven, it was Las Vegas that wound up on top – and they did it by playing sound, smart, Wranglers hockey.
On Tuesday night, they switched steps and played Florida’s game – fast paced, up-and-down, often penalized, track-meet hockey. The results were more than sour. But if they play their game – Wranglers hockey – they’ll be just fine. Because when they play their game, they’re near unbeatable.
When they played their game, they swept the Utah Grizzlies, smashed the Idaho Steelheads and destroyed the Alaska Aces 4-1. When they played their game, they made the Western Conference look like a high school hockey league.
On Tuesday night, they learned that if they want to win a Kelly Cup, that’s what they have to do – play their game. They can’t get involved in dumb penalties and silly post-whistle fisticuffs, and the other sort of things Florida is going to try to do to take Las Vegas off that game.
When that happens, the whistle blows, guys head to the box, and Las Vegas plays right into the Everblade’s hands by putting the ECHL’s number one ranked power play unit on the ice, one that torched Las Vegas twice en-route to a 7-2 victory. In total, Florida scored four special teams goals Tuesday night – two on the power play, and two more on four-on-four action. Four goals, which proved to be the difference in Game 2.
Note to self – don’t do that anymore.
But if you ask me, the beat-down they suffered Tuesday night might serve them well. It was a kick in the pants – a hard notice to a 12-3 playoff team that there’s still a lot of work to be done. A very clear message that this team is almost there – but they’re not there yet.
They’ll respond to the loss – they always have. After dropping game one against Alaska, they ripped off four in a row on their way to a Western Conference Championship. The defeat will motivate them. Believe me.
Good teams don’t just take losses like that. Good teams don’t sit well after a performance like Tuesday night.
Not to mention the way the game played out – embarrassed on home ice. One guy ejected, another tossed into the boards and gingerly helped off the ice as we all looked on in silence, fingers crossed he’d be okay. Oh, believe me – that will give them something to think about on the plane ride to Florida.
Because now, they have something more to play for – more than just a Cup. Their city. Their pride. A fallen brother. And most importantly, revenge – a dish best served immediately.