Consecutive losses cap off another tough weekend for Knights
Credit: ANDREW STEPHENSON OF SHAKE MEDIA AND THE LONDON KNIGHTS
The London Knights have had a tough start to the season, but that doesn't mean they can't make a comeback.
It’s still too early to panic if you’re a fan of the London Knights, but this was most certainly not the kind of start the team was looking for.
After losses to Kingston and Oshawa a few days ago, the Knights find themselves in the Western Conference cellar, with just two points through five games (1-4).
Welcoming the Kingston Frontenacs to Budweiser Gardens last Friday night, London was hoping to get back on the right foot. Instead, they lost 5-0.
There’s really no bright spots in a game like that, but just in case you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan: 2017 second round draft pick Frontenacs’ Eemeli Rasanen scored two goals and picked up two helpers in the affair.
Things didn’t go much better for the Knights two nights later, when they headed to Oshawa to play the Generals.
They lost that game 5-4, but there were some key takeaways. First of all, their expected top scorers this season found their form; Max Jones, Cliff Pu and Robert Thomas combined for three goals and seven points.
Defenseman Evan Bouchard picked up three assists, earning him six points in five games. That ties him for third place in Ontario Hockey League d-man scoring.
These are nice statistics, but it doesn’t change the fact that none of the players are happy with the team’s recent play.
“It wasn’t the result we wanted,” Robert Thomas said after the blowout against Kingston.
“We didn’t play the way we should have; it was a tough loss.” So, how do the Knights fix this?
“Keeping it simple; I think we’re trying to do way too much and we got away from what made us successful in the past. We need to win our battles and go from there.”
Head coach Dale Hunter put Thomas, Pu and Jones together during the game, stacking the first line to hopefully create some offence.
Though it didn’t create any goals, it led to a plethora of offensive chances for the trio. “If we were together I think we could definitely do some damage,” Thomas remarked about playing with Pu and Jones.
It would be interesting to see the Knights’ three best players on a line together, but it creates worries about the depth of the forward lines.
Forwards Alex Formenton and Jesper Bratt have had great preseasons in Ottawa and New Jersey.
Senators brass have said that Formenton is staying with the team for at least the near future.
Bratt’s status is unknown, but with the NHL regular season just around the corner, we should know soon.
Olli Juolevi is up in the air for London; he won’t be playing for the Vancouver Canucks, but the consensus seems to be that he’s learned all he needs to in junior.
That could lead to him playing in Europe for a year; most likely, he won’t be back in London this season.
And with Victor Mete excelling in a Montreal Canadiens uniform, this could be a very different looking team from last year.
Regardless, there’s no question that the London Knights are still a competitive team in a tough Western Conference.
Even without some of their top players, they can still play with the best of them.
But they need to start showing it soon.