Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rebels: Searching For Consistency

I had a chance to spend some time at the rink yesterday to catch up with a few of the Rebels following their three game Saskatchewan road trip… and to film another episode of Southside Dodge Rebels This Week (yup, shameless plug).

In looking back a trip on which they earned three of a possible six points, the Rebels (as they should) are taking the “good, but not good enough” approach.

“In Swift Current, we had a rough game, didn’t do our best,” noted Captain Turner Elson. “We need our work ethic all the time, every sixty minute game, and we didn’t do that for the whole trip.”

While consistency continues to be somewhat lacking, confidence certainly is not. Elson says the Rebels feel they can compete with anyone when they bring their “A-game.”

“We obviously can beat the best teams in the league. It’s just that we need everybody. We’re not a team that runs off of one line. Everybody needs to be producing every shift, that’s how we need to play every game.”

Defenceman Brady Gaudet, who continues to play with a cast on his right arm, also addressed the issue of finding consistency.

“It’s funny how it goes. You play a great game in Saskatoon, everyone was on board, and we go into Prince Albert and have a bit of a slow start and it wasn’t until toward the end of the game that we found our stride again. That’s something that we’re gonna have to work on here this week and hopefully we can get it back.”

Having said that, Gaudet feels his squad is not that far away from getting its act together… consistently.

With Brent Sutter tending to duties on the family farm, Associate Coach Jeff Triutt shared the coach’s perspective on the Saskie roadie.

“In the Saskatoon game, I thought that we played a hard game, a structured game, which was great. In a building that was loud we rose to the occasion. We kept the game simple and I thought we made some adjustments that needed to be done. The players followed through and that was great to see. In the Prince Albert game… we waited until the third period to play our best. But we put the pedal down and got a point out of that one. In Swift Current, we came out a little flat and they took it to us… three out of six points is ok… we’ll take that.”

Truitt says he did notice a difference with his team having a [somewhat close to] complete lineup on the ice.

“When you get Patrik in and Haydn and Bleacks back in the lineup, I think that certainly helps with everything. There’s a sense that the team’s back together, which is great. We’re looking for those guys to contribute and help us down the stretch run here.

Bartosak and Fleury certainly didn’t waste any time contributing following their returns. Bartosak was simply superb, in front of a national TV audience, in the Rebels win in Saskatoon. Fleury salvaged a single point for his club by scoring in the final second of the third period in Prince Albert.

Meantime, when it comes to playing while wearing a cast, Gaudet admits it’s a somewhat frustrating experience.

“I’ve had to change my game a little bit. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise… I’ve had to learn to get better at body positioning and things like that. It’s been up and down but for the most part I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to keep going with the guys and try and do what I can out there.”

Doing your job while wearing a cast is quite a challenge for any player… Gaudet says that is especially the case as a defenceman.

“I’ve had to keep two hands on my stick and, as a d-man, you always want to have one [hand on your stick] just trying to close out lanes and things like that. Playing the powerplay is tougher because I can’t shoot the puck like I’d [normally] be able to. Even simple things like going back for pucks up against the boards, it’s tough. But I’m adjusting and hopefully I only have it for a couple more weeks and then we can move on.”

A other random notes while I think of them…

- I spoke briefly with newly-acquired Rebels forward Hunter Smith. He’s definitely excited, and a bit surprised, to be in Red Deer after being released by Brandon during training camp. Smith says he plays a “heavy” style of hockey and plans to “finish all of my checks, give energy for the guys, fight when I need to, go hard, just get the guys pumped”… if he lives up to his words, he’ll become a favorite amongst teammates and Rebels fans

- Former Rebels stud, and WHL Defenceman of the Year, Alex Petrovic should have a great chance at making the Florida Panthers roster. He’s listed in the top eight on their website roster.

- Jim Vandermeer, captain of the 2001 Memorial Cup Champion Red Deer Rebels, has signed on with the Vancouver Canucks. This will be Jim’s third stint in the Northwest Division after previously suiting up for both Calgary and Edmonton.

- Back to shameless plugging for a moment… on today’s brand new episode of Southside Dodge Rebels This Week we have all of the highlights from the road trip, comments from a couple of players as well as Associate Coach Truitt, an exclusive interview with Mathew Dumba from Minnesota courtesy of Wild TV, and a fabulously entertaining (as always) chat with Cam Moon!

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