The Blazers don’t have to worry about playing another game without its top scorers; no suspensions will be handed out by the league after last Friday’s line brawl in Toronto.
Dan Dawson, Nick Cotter, Brendan Thenhaus, and Daryl Veltman did not receive league suspensions for fighting during a dead ball situation, but were awarded game misconduct penalties.
So with a full staff to draw from, Coach Tom Ryan must come up with a game plan to get the team its first win against the 1-0 Titans.
Ryan said each of the team’s losses, but a common thread throughout has been the inability to keep its players on the floor, and out of the penalty box.
“The one that seems consistent is bad penalties,” Ryan said. “It’s a mental mistake, it’s something that I hope we can address, but it’s something that has hurt us in all three games so far.”
The Blazers have 127 penalty in minutes, 34 more than the next highest team, but 92 of those came in Friday’s brawl game. Team has also played three games, than most in the league.
But Ryan was talking about “bad penalties,” whether that be penalties against the bench (the team had two in its 12 – 8 loss against Philadelphia), or untimely penalties (like the five minute high sticking that spelled their doom in OT on Friday).
Ryan did say he wasn’t upset with his front line for fighting on Friday, the penalties that shaped two losses that weekend. Self-defense is self-defense.
“I don’t think the guys really had a choice,” Ryan said. “We sent a line out to play lacrosse, and obviously Toronto had other ideas. So I was proud of them for the way they stuck up for themselves and their teammates.”
It’s tough to imagine a “must-win” game in only the fourth contest of the season, but the Titans represent yet another Eastern division foe. A loss sets them at 0 – 4in the East, and that’s a very uphill battle. Three teams currently undefeated in the division, and Toronto has already beaten them twice.
“We have confidence in ourselves, but we have to prove it on the floor,” Ryan said.
For Orlando, which had a bye last weekend, it will be the team’s first road test.
“It’s certainly an important game in the standings for both teams,” said Titans coach Ed Comeau. “We played Boston three times last year, and they’re a very good team. We know they’re going to be hungry certainly to get a win, and especially in front of the home crowd.”