how does it feeeeeeeeeel........... to be hit by the rock?
OK so we haven't heard that song in a good ten years, but tonight and tomorrow night, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles visit "The Rock" for a pair of games against the St. John's Fog Devils, and if they can't get up for these games or take the Fog Devils lightly, that's what's going to happen to them!
Look no further than the Eagles' record last season (regular season) at Mile One Stadium in St. John's against the expansion Devils: four games, four losses, and just one point out of a possible eight (one loss came in overtime).
Granted, that was last year, this is now. St. John's hasn't been doing as well this season as last, especially on home ice. Last season, the expansion Fog Devils finished an amazing 25-8-1-1 on home ice. So far this season, the Devils are a less-imposing 8-7-0-1 at Mile One. As well, the Eagles may have lost all four regular season games in St. John's last season, but as I'm sure most of us recall, they broke the Mile One curse come playoff time, winning all three playoff games played there during their first round series win agains the Fog Devils.
Still, the Eagles should know that St. John's is not to be taken lightly on their home ice, even if they sit second-to-last in the East Division with a record of 12-19-1-1, good for just 26 points.
The Fog Devils have been having a difficult sophomore season in the QMJHL. They haven't had as much success as they had last year............ they have had countless injuries............ they have received inconsistent goaltending........... and they have had a number of off-ice problems with certain players. These problems all snowballed to send St. John's spiralling on a real bad streak lately (seven losses in eight games recently), although they have recently found a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, winning their last two games against the Halifax Mooseheads, and welcoming troubled overager Nicolas Bachand back into the lineup after he was temporarily sent home. As a result, the Fog Devils might be feeling better right now than they have for much of the season, so the Eagles will have to be on their toes.
Cape Breton comes into tonight's game with a record of 22-11-1, good for 45 points, and now sit just four points back of the league and division-leading Lewiston MAINEiacs. Just a few days ago, the Eagles were a whopping eight points behind Lewiston. The MAINEiacs play at home tonight, against the Saint John Sea Dogs.
One would assume that David Davenport would get the call again tonight for Cape Breton. Despite his somewhat shaky play against PEI this past weekend, he was still good enough to get the two wins, and I think that it would take circumstances a bit more extenuating than a couple of shaky games for the team to throw rookie Kyle Downer into the fray, seeing as how he hasn't played a minute of QMJHL action to date. However, if Davenport falters tonight, perhaps we could see Downer make his first appearance in the Eagle crease; he'll have friends and family on hand in his hometown of St. John's. Of course, the hope is that this doesn't have to happen, as we're looking for a strong game from "DD" tonight. St. John's will almost certainly start veteran Ilja Ejov, against whom the Eagles have had some troubles over the past two seasons.
The puck drops tonight at 6:30 ADT; be sure to tune in on CJCB AM 1270, where Ken MacNeil will be providing his usual excellent play-by-play. Do not be confused by the listed start time of 7:00; remember that Newfoundland time is a half hour ahead of our time here in Cape Breton!
Here's hoping that the Eagles can get their sixth straight win tonight, although it certainly won't be easy in a rink where the team has yet to win a regular season game. It's time for the Eagles to step up, try not to get too caught up in thinking about the upcoming holiday festivities, and finish that lingering regular season curse the team has had in this building.