This isn’t a slump. This is reality.
Not that the Guelph Storm’s first place standing at the Christmas break was all smoke and mirrors, it was after all, a pretty healthy 27-game sample. But it wasn’t fair, or realistic to expect that the team was going to be able to maintain that pace.
The concerns that were there before the season began didn’t go away, namely goaltending and secondary scoring.
In fact the Storm is currently battling for a position in the Western Conference that logical thinking would have predicted they would be in: battling for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
As the saying goes, you’re never quite as good – or as bad – as you think you are.
The Storm was outkicking the coverage when it hit the break with a 17-8-1-1 record, and it’s not nearly as bad a team that has seen it go 2-8-1-0 since then.
Why the slump?
First of all, almost all teams slump. Almost all players slump. Especially young ones, of which the Storm definitely is.
Goaltending has been inconsistent (3.33 goals-against before the break, 3.73 after the break), with both Owen Bennett and Jacob Oster looking like a young Ken Dryden one night, then awful the next night.
Scoring depth (3.85 goals per game before the break, 3.27 after the break) was always a concern, and one that couldn’t afford any injuries.
Sasha Pastujov became human. After carrying the offence with 22 goals in his first 27 games, Pastujov was on pace for a 55 goal season. Since then he’s scored twice in the past 10 games.
Like teams, players also slump. The good ones rebound and Pastujov is certainly one of the better goal scorers in the league.
There are some bright spots.
Rookies that often hit a bit of a wall about the 30-game mark often climb over that wall 10 games or so later.
Brayden Guy is rounding into form since arriving from Sarnia and appears ready to pick up some of that scoring slack. Getting Matt Papais back from injury will also big a big plus.
Don’t expect a challenge for first place, but do expect more than what you’ve seen of late.