Knights must 'show up' to compete

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

The London Knights 7-2 loss to the Plymouth Whalers on Saturday night was not a pretty thing to watch.

It was a vision of what can happen to this team when they aren't competitive.

It wasn't a happy club after the loss.

It's a much happier group of Knights yesterday, though, with the news that their top player, Nazem Kadri, has been sent back by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That makes them instantly better.

It takes some of the sting out of the loss against the Whalers.

Knights general manger Mark Hunter is obviously pleased to have Kadri back. The Knights have a history of losing underage players to the NHL. But on the other hand, he knows how hard it is for the players to come back."

"But you know these kids have worked so hard to get to the NHL," Hunter said. "They want to play there so badly and we want them to make it."

Hunter went on to say he expects defenceman Michael Del Zotto, who is with the New York Rangers, to start the season with the Rangers, getting an extended look.

No matter, it is way too early to read anything long-term into Saturday's loss.

Just as it was way too early to get jacked out of control when the Knights started 2-0.

Listening to some of the comments being made by the general public after that two-win start, one would have thought it was time to start planning the victory parade.

People were already putting the goaltending duo of Michael Houser and Michael Hutchinson in the Hall of Fame after they stole wins for their teams with some fine goaltending.

The pair is an upgrade from last season and should be solid. But Saturday night showed you can't continue to give up a lot of chances and expect your goaltending to bail you out ... especially if you goaltender decides to have an average night.

Hutchinson went the distance and was the victim of three horrible giveaways that led directly to goals. The Knights special teams were anything but. They gave up four power-play goals and a short-handed effort.

If this team decides to come out with a tame effort, there will be more nights like Saturday. The Knights are solid but don't have the array of talent that allows them to float on a given night and expect to win anyway.

Knights' assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu was his usual succinct self in his assessment of the effort.

"We didn't compete," he said. "We didn't get to the puck first. They beat us to almost every puck."

After a quick, good skating first period that ended in a 2-2 tie, the Whalers took control by taking control of the puck.

"We didn't have the puck all night," said Beaulieu. "We didn't have it five-on-five, we didn't have it on the power play. We didn't have it at all. When you don't have the puck, you're chasing all the time and it's tough to get anything going."

Steve Tarasuk saw a lot of ice time. He killed penalties, was on the power play as well as playing his regular shift.

"One mistake led to another and a bunch of little things in our own end and taking unnecessary penalties led to goals," said Tarasuk. "Next thing we know, we were down too much to come back."

The Knights looked flat. After scoring two goals on the power play, they missed on their next seven opportunities.

It wasn't a cohesive effort.

"I'd definitely say that their team had to be more prepared than ours in that we weren't very successful in the outcome of the game," Tarasuk said. "The fortunate thing is we play them quite a few more times and we'll be ready for them the next time."

That about says it all. There are plenty of games to go. No need to get bent out of shape about one so early in the season.

The game should provide a pretty good teaching tool for the coaching staff

Hunter is also waiting on the New York Islanders to figure out what they are doing with defenceman Anton Klementiev, one of the Knights' selections in the CHL import draft.

There's nothing new in that area either.

Like Del Zotto, the quick start and Saturday's game, there's no need to get bent out of shape.

morris.dallacosta@sunmedia.ca

---

IN PLYMOUTH

GAME GLANCE

Whalers 7, Knights 2

Plymouth goals: Tyler Seguin 3, AJ Jenks, Joe Gaynor, Myles McCauley, Garrett Meurs

London goals: Justin Taylor, Jared Knight

Next: The Knights play the Sting in Sarnia on Thursday


Videos

Photos