No time to get nervous

Jeremy Akeson was playing coach at the 67's practice Wednesday afternoon, talking to Robbie...

Jeremy Akeson was playing coach at the 67's practice Wednesday afternoon, talking to Robbie Lawrance and Elgin Reid. Coach Brian Kilrea was not on the ice for the optional practice at the Civic Centre. (Ottawa Sun/Tony Caldwell)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Call it twisted logic, but the 67's may have actually made some progress by taking a step back in their OHL championship showdown with the London Knights.

If they had even a shadow of doubt about their chances of prevailing in a best-of-seven series against the top-ranked junior team in Canada, it should be erased after losing Game 3 by just one goal Tuesday night.

"It was like we were nervous," assistant coach Bert O'Brien said yesterday of the 5-4 defeat, which leaves Ottawa trailing the final two games to one heading into this evening's (7 p.m.) crucial joust at the Civic Centre. "At times, we played like we did in January and February."

For those who have only begun paying attention the past eight weeks or so, the 67's battled some serious inconsistency issues before a playoff run that has produced a 13-5 record to date, including the latest loss, which was their first on home ice in the post-season.

MENTAL ERRORS

"It was our worst game of the playoffs, for mental errors," overage centre Brad Bonello said upon reflection. "Things happen ... but we just weren't sharp."

Coach Brian Kilrea, who made yesterday's practice optional to allow for his most used and bruised players a breather, said the 67's uncharacteristically threw the puck away Tuesday.

"We did not play as well defensively as we have lately," said Kilrea. "And we're not the type of team that can afford to have any players at less than their best."

For defensive tips, the 67's need not look far. Skating with them most of the season has been locked-out NHL veteran Dan McGillis. Yesterday, the big blueliner Killer's boys call "Gilly" was spotted chatting with Bonello outside the dressing room and then later doing a little instructing on the ice.

"He said the same thing ... that he didn't think we played too good, and he suggested some modifications we can use on how to break out of the trap," said Bonello. "He had some ideas for us on how not to get caught up in too many odd-man rushes.

"He said the Knights played a similar style as they do in the NHL, that their coach (Dale Hunter) is familiar with.

"It's playoff hockey, and they try to trap you until you break down then they capitalize on it."

Meanwhile, it's unlikely the 67's will be getting the help of rookie winger Jamie McGinn, who was still favouring his sore shoulder at practice.

"It would be risky and we don't want to rush him," said Kilrea. "The Memorial Cup is in 10 days, and he would have to be 100% before I'd even consider him."


Videos

Photos