The Angry Budgie Live

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thoughts on a season Part 1

So I wanted to give my thoughts on each teams 0809 season and give my verdict on how they did. I wont be giving massive in-depth reviews just a few thoughts on each team. Ive decided to go through each team in league order however Ill do my review of the Phoenix last.

Sheffield Steelers
If any team summed up the phrase ‘Offence wins games, defence wins championships’ it’s the Sheffield Steelers. As you can see from the league table of the 13 games the Steelers lost all season over half were lost in OT. That’s an extra 7 points the Steelers were able to grind out over the season. When you look at the rest of the league most teams were lucky to pick up a loss in OT, most were lost in regulation. The Cardiff Devils were the only team to match the Steelers OT loss numbers.

The Steelers were also a team who did not have to rely on one or two stand out point’s scorers. With the point scoring spread pretty evenly across the team, coupled with one of the meanest defences in the league its not hard to see why they romped to the title. Plus with the wall that was Jody ‘Is a girls name’ Lehman in net it was near as damn it impossible for opposing teams to score!

So despite the fact I dislike the Steelers immensely and think that Dave Simms is a right royal tit, I can acknowledge they deserved the league title. They also deserved the playoff win too, the Panthers looked good in their semi-final but the Steelers made them look ordinary. It really was a case of inevitability when the Steelers scored!

So the house of tin will expect more of the same in 0910! For the rest of us the arrogant fans in the stand will never let us forget last season!

Coventry Blaze
Paul over at the Breakaway Hockey blog has commented many times about the Blaze season being a bit hit or miss. I can only echo those comments, a team in much flux after the loss of many star players last summer. The Blaze rebuilt around JF Perras in net, I had always thought Perras was a great net minder up in Scotland, so when he moved to the Blaze I thought they had a good un! But Perras could only mirror the Blaze up and down season. Moments of shear class mixed in with some pretty inept performances. Its no wonder the Blaze faithful never really took to him.

Its been an uneasy season for Coventry, years of the success have conditioned the Sky Dome faithful to certain levels of success. So to finish a season with nothing and a pretty poor finals performance will go down as a bad season for the Blaze, despite their second place.

Coventry always put on a good performance at the Ice Dome and you could easily see their class. In that case why is it so hard for the Blaze to repeat that performance come finals weekend? In their game versus the Panthers they looked disinterested and flat, and im sure that’s not the first time ive thought that about the Blaze at finals weekend!

Success will be demanded next season, so it will be an interesting off season for those in Coventry!

Nottingham Panthers
So the biggest team in the league, the biggest wage bill in the league the ‘best’ arena in the league won absolutely diddly squat, again, this past season. A team which consistently brakes the wage cap proves once again money cant instantly buy you a cup! Putting all that aside the Panthers could play some sublime hockey, and thoroughly deserved their place in the playoff final. Such a pity they came up against the Steeler machine!

Nottingham were probably the team the Phoenix had most success against, of those in the ‘big four’. For the most part the Phoenix were able to cope well with the Panthers, especially on our home ice. But the Panthers did play some exciting hockey and were a joy to watch. With Johnny Molin a permanent highlight whenever his ‘Gay Boots’ (*thanks Choir boys!) were on the ice!

I don’t ever really remember the Panthers having much of a defence though! The Panthers had obviously decided on the ‘well score more than the opposition’ line of thinking. Michelle Robinson did well in the Panthers net, but im sure he will want the first Steeler goal in the playoff finals back! Just seemed to go right through him!

So the Panthers faithful will expect trophies for 0910, but unless a change in ethos I fear Nottingham will, once again, finish up trophy less.

Belfast Giants
The Giants were very similar to the Panthers, loaded with offensive talent but not much at the back. With Stevie Lyle in net you were never sure what performance you were going to get from him. A great GB net minder, but one prone to prolonged periods of wobbliness!

As a Phoenix fan I have become very well acquainted with the Giants over the course of the season. They play fantastic attacking hockey, but more and more with an underlying dirty/chipyness, which I hate with a passion! They always seemed willing to play dirty to get a win. The Giants season never really got going and they seemed unable to put a sustained run together to bother those at the top.

The Giants faithful will be satisfied with two trophies, won against a tired Phoenix side playing a million games in one month. I do wonder if the result would have been different had it not been for our fixture pileup!

So for next season the Giants will need to retain the offensive talent they had for 0809, including, possibly the only player to really bother DAB, Paul Deniset! But they will also need to add some defensive metal to the roster. Weather they can to stay under the wage cap is another thing though!

Cardiff Devils
The Devils are the team I like to peg the Phoenix to, to measure our development and success in the league. Despite their league placing I really don’t think the Devils are hugely better than the Phoenix. Had it not been for the Phoenix’ march madness I think we could have taken 5th place. Bu they the table shows what happened and the Devils did play some good hockey over the season.

Led by Mr Cardiff Devils Brad Voth the Devils had a fair few star players, but as normal they all got injured! Must be something in the water! As with previous season the Devils would surprise everyone with a good run only for it to fizzle out and come to nothing.

So the Devils finished the season with nothing, and made their now regular appearance at the finals weekend, sadly with their now regular loss in the semi’s. The time is coming for the Devils, I think 0910 could reward the Devils with a trophy, if they stay healthy!

The Devils are pretty much where I want the Phoenix, good crowds consistent appearances in Nottingham and finally some stability. For 0910? Trophies should come!

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