Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Depleted Eagles to take on Moncton for second place tonight

The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have a golden opportunity tonight to move into sole possession of second place in the East Division, in the form of a meeting with the Moncton Wildcats, who they trail by just one point for that second spot.

However, they're going to have to try and get it done without a bevy of key players.

Sitting out tonight's game for sure are Scott Brannon (concussion), Luc Bourdon (ankle), and Dean Ouellet (lower body). The latter two, as you likely recall, left Sunday afternoon's game and did not return. Thankfully, their injuries are being reported as "day to day" in nature, as opposed to anything long-term.

As well, Cam Fergus (upper body) and Jonathan Laberge (personal) will likely be out of the Cape Breton lineup tonight.

Add it all up, and that's five key players missing, assuming that all of those guys do indeed sit out. Four of those players are forwards, leaving the Eagles with just nine healthy forwards, or enough for just three lines. Given that, the team will likely call up an affiliate forward or two for tonight's game. Line combinations are really anyone's guess, although it should be reasonably safe to assume that the Culligan-Sheppard-Slaney combination from the last hockey game will remain intact (and should be counted upon for a large chunk of tonight's work).

With so many key players out of the lineup, the guys that are playing tonight will go into the game knowing that they won't stand a chance against this Wildcat team if they give anything less than a full 60-minute effort. This is a challenge that, should the Eagles embrace it, could produce very rewarding results, and really remind our team of the virtues of hard work (which seemed to be forgotten at times on Friday night vs Rimouski). Tonight's game could be looked at as a real character-building opportunity, and for that reason I look forward to seeing how our depleted lineup fares.

Ondrej Pavelec will be back between the pipes tonight for Cape Breton, while Moncton could counter with either of two strong goaltenders; Jhase Sniderman or Nicola Riopel. Considering that he shut us out in the last meeting between the two teams, my guess is that we'll face Sniderman.

Also, tonight's game marks the return of Mark Barberio to C200 for the first time since being traded to the Wildcats in the Bourdon deal. It will mark his first of many appearances on our ice in a Wildcat uniform. Be sure to give this kid a warm reception, as he's a great player who never wanted to leave Cape Breton. It's going to be tough watching him develop into a franchise player in another team's uniform over the next few seasons.

Moncton has a gritty, in-your-face team that never stops skating, and we'll have to counter with equally hard work if we're to beat these guys tonight. It's a great opportunity to overtake these guys for second place, rather than fall three points behind them, so I think our guys should be pretty motivated. As well, the Eagles are really going to want to take advantage of this last home game before embarking on a very tough three-game road trip on the weekend.

Don't miss the battle for second place, tonight at C200.


CB Eagle Fan said...

I would like to congratulate JC Sawyer on his exceptional game Sunday, and on his being named defensive player of the week by the QMJHL. He's going to have to put his talents to good use again this evening with the loss of Luc Bourdon from the blueline. However, the defense isn't what concerns me the most. The loss of Cam Fergus and Jonathan Laberge will really cut into our faceoff specialists. Dean Ouellet also took his fair share of faceoffs successfully. I would suspect that James Sheppard and JC Gauthier will see a lot of the faceoff circle this evening, with help from Nick MacNeil and maybe Robert Slaney. At any rate, the game is going to be a challenge for the team, and one that I hope they rise to. We all know that they have the talent, and I'm sure they will have the drive. For our part, we, the fans, have to cheer the boys on. It's a well known fact that the support from the stands can really drive the energy level on the ice up! So let's make noise for the boys!! and GO EAGLES GO!
On another note, I agree about Mark Barberio. Let's welcome him back into Centre 200 this evening. It must be hard for a youngster to be traded from his first team in the Q. He's done well with Moncton so far, but as was said, it wasn't his decision to go. I certainly hope we don't have anyone boo-ing him tonight- he doesn't need that. And one more item: I would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to both David Davenport and Etienne Breton.

Anonymous said...

Well I really have to agree Sawyer really had his up and down games since he became a eagle but Sawyer shows everyone what he's made of when he need so I hope like everybody he keeps up his good play aganist Monton since Bourdon,Dean and Cam Fergus are game time decisons Well will just have to see how things go tonight GO EAGLES GO !!!

CB Eagle Fan said...

Another great game for JC Sawyer, James Sheppard, and pretty well every other player on the team! Everyone stepped up. I really admire Dean Ouellet for not missing a game due to his injury. You could see when he took that hit, that the knee wasn't totally better, but you would never know it by the way he played. Fantastic! The team, as a whole, showed that they could play under adversity, and that, just because four key players were out of the lineup, everyone else could step up and fill in the spaces, so to speak. It was a great effort. Now that the confidence level is so high, lets go for a 3-for-3 road trip! It will have to be a "dig down deep" effort by the time we get to Lewiston, but the team has shown that they can deliver. They can be sure that there will be a great many fans tuned in to their radios and computers, cheering them on, hopefully, to victory! GO EAGLES GO!