Remake test goes well

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

PLYMOUTH -- The win may not have been against the best team in the league.

But rest assured, the London Knights coaching staff will point to it as an example of how the Knights must play to win.

The Knights travelled to Plymouth and beat the Whalers 4-2 yesterday in a good test for a team that didn't do so well in a test on Friday.

The Whalers may only be in the middle of the Western Conference standings, but since Mike Vellucci took over behind the bench, they've been playing solid hockey. They don't have all the talent in the world, but they never stop putting out.

Coming on the heels of one of their less-than-stellar defensive efforts in a 6-5 shootout loss to Guelph on Friday, the Knights put together one of their better ones yesterday.

"We're happy with the way they played," said London assistant coach Pat Curcio.

Why wouldn't he be?

It wasn't a pretty picture defensively going into the game. The Knights are missing Scott Aarssen with a foot injury. Michael Del Zotto is day to day with a hip injury and Kevin Montgomery was ill. That left the Knights with four regular defenceman and forward Tucker Hunter filling in with an occasional shift on the blue-line.

In an entertaining, fast-paced game, the Knights limited scoring chances and turnovers in securing their sixth win in seven games. Their only loss in that stretch came to Guelph.

But even Curcio's pleasure at his team's performance was tempered by the need to find . . .

"Consistency. We need to find more consistency. The other night we didn't play well defensively," Curcio said. "(Yesterday,) we moved the puck well, got back to the net hard, blocked shots, cleared pucks. Trevor Cann played well, too. But we've got to be more consistent."

It's no secret that most of the Knights blue-liners love to jump into the play. John Carlson had a goal and an assist, including the winner against Plymouth. As one of the more gifted offensive defencemen in this league, having only three other blue-liners made it difficult for him to take off as regularly as he normally does.

"I needed to be more selective," Carlson said. "You are playing so many more minutes in the game and you don't want to let up on the back end and wind up giving up a goal. Overall, I thought the guys did really well."

Curcio says it becomes a learning experience.

"The mindset's a little different when you're playing with four guys, but that's how you have to think when you have six guys," Curcio said. "That's what we have to try and get across, so they don't try and do too much. Sometimes less is more and when you do less, you have a better game."

The Knights outshot the Whalers 41-31 and didn't allow them a shot on goal in the first 14 minutes.

But this was no pedestrian outing. Both teams were motoring. Carlson and his blue-line partners Vladimir Roth, Steven Tarasuk and Matt Clarke earned their keep.

"It's pretty tough back there with four guys, but we had Tucker to give us a breather when we needed it," Carlson said. "It's one of those games where you just say, 'You've got to do it.' "

Up front, the Knights got another big game from Phil McRae with a goal and two assists and John Tavares with two goals and an assist.

Tavares has seven goals in the three games he's played with London.

Tavares is one of those guys who can kill you softly. He scored the insurance goal on a nice pass from Nazem Kadri. Tavares was nowhere to be seen when suddenly like a ghost, he appeared in the slot, took Kadri's pass and ripped a low shot into the net.

"He's just a really special player," Carlson said. "I only played against him once, but it was my job to shut him down. It's just really hard. But he's with us now. He's a great guy in the room. It's going to get even better."


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