Knights need to learn lesson from series

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

The London Knights had better send the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds a thank you card for the five-alarm wakeup call.

Otherwise the Knights might have snoozed their way out of the OHL Western Conference final.

Imagine the Knights going into a series against Plymouth Whalers playing the way they did against the Greyhounds.

They would have been shipped home in body bags.

As it turned out, the Knights got an appreciation of what can happen when you put it in cruise control.

The Knights will go to the conference final against the Whalers, thanks to an 8-4 Game 7 win over the Greyhounds last night at the John Labatt Centre.

The real credit for dragging the Knights through the dog pack goes to the working stiffs. Josh Beaulieu, Jordan Foreman and Justin Taylor were outstanding even through the tough times, playing the game with the constant desperation needed in desperate times. Last night was captain Rob Drummond's best playoff performance ever.

Then there was David Meckler, who played at a consistently high level throughout this series, leaving everything he had on the ice very night.

Goaltender Steve Mason made several key saves near the end of the game.

"Before the game Josh and I and some of the other guys said we had to pick up the slack a little bit and that this was a big game and it was unacceptable to lose three games like that. Us being the older players, we had to lead by example," Foreman said.

The Knights won and in the end that's all that matters to the London faithful. You'll hear all the happy, yappy stuff about showing character, playing hard, yabba, dabba, do.

But they were up 4-0 and had several two-goal leads and still had all they could handle from the 'Hounds.

Kudos to the Cujos, but the Knights need to do better against the Whalers. Much better.

"They surprised us with their work ethic," Foreman said. "They're a great team over there. Other teams would have stopped working but they never did."

The Knights had a 3-0 lead in the series before giving it up to a Greyhound team that never stopped working. It was a mesmerizing comeback that left most everyone shaking their head and wondering what happened.

The Perfect Storm happened.

A perfect storm is a situation where, by the confluence of specific events, what might have been a minor issue ends up being magnified to proportions that are out of control. If one element was removed from the mix, it might never have happened but because everything came together, the situation escalated.

OHL observers wondered what would happen to these Knights if a confluence of events happened.

Mason proved to be human after all and went into a slump. The ice time and the season-long pounding began to slow down the Knights young players, such as Pat Kane and Sam Gagner. Injuries caught up to the defence and made it thinner than it was all season.

Welcome to the perfect storm.

It was masked by the results of the first three games. Victories have a way of steadying a ship through rough weather. Even though the Knights won the first three games, they looked a long way from the team the OHL was used to seeing during the regular season. They lacked sharpness, flow and an edge.

To make matters worse, they played as if the series was in the bag.

Mason, a player who normally made the flaws disappear, developed a few flaws of his own, at least temporarily. The big save was still there but some of the shots everyone had grown used to watching him stop were beating him. The defence was hurting and giving up quality chances. Only Mason wasn't there to bail them out this time around.

With Kane, Gagner and Sergei Kostitsyn labouring, the Knights explosiveness suddenly wasn't there.

The confluence of specific events had come together to create the perfect storm.

If it happens against the Whalers, chances of survival are zilch.


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