With the absence of Tyler Parsons and defenceman Victor Mete from the Knights lineup they are struggling to compete with the top teams in the Western Conference. Most likely their worst outing of the season came against the Erie Otters in a 5-1 loss. A game in which the Knights could only muster 9 shots on goal through the opening 40 minutes and suddenly are having trouble finding the back of the net. They followed that up with a disappointing 6-1 loss Friday night at home against the Owen Sound Attack. London native and star forward for the Attack Nick Suzuki had the boxes full of NHL scouts and he surely impressed them, recording 6 points(1 goal and 5 assists).
Tyler Parsons, as I have repeated over and over is the most important Knight on this team and is missed in games against the top teams. Having sustained a concussion in practice after taking a shot to his mask, will be given ample time to fully recover and again lead the Knights. His replacement Tyler Johnson has struggled all season long in key games. He is without a doubt not up to the standards of a starting OHL goalie, as he fails miserably at rebound control and has yet to track pucks on a consistent basis. All but one of the Attack goals were weak markers against Johnson and IF the Knights are to stay in the top 3 teams in the West Parsons will have to be in the London net.
With Victor Mete having sustained a skull fracture the Knights have missed his speed and playmaking from the backend. What is most noticeable in his absence is the Knights failure to have that clean first pass out of their own end. Brandon Crawley while a solid body checking defenceman is not one who should be counted on to move the puck out of his own end and was guilty of numerous giveaways on Friday night. Mitchell Vande Sompel who was injured in his first game for the Knights seems to have lingering issues with his ankle as he is a non factor in most games and his ice time has been reduced.
London is currently tied with the Soo Greyhounds for second overall in the OHL and the Owen Sound Attack now only trail both teams by a single point. The Attack have only lost twice in the last 25 games(both to the Knights) and will be a tough test in the playoffs. The Attack have always been the top defensive club in the OHL, but with added scoring they have this season and the goaltending of Michael McNiven they are a legitimate threat to be OHL champions.
One bright spot that has been overlooked on the Knights is the play of forward Adrian Carbonara. One of the few London forwards who plays the heavy game and is successful at it. Carbonara has 19 points and 38 PIMS in 29 games with London after coming over from Barrie. When the Knights are firing on all cylinders he creates space for the small but talented forwards and is a crushing body checker. With his success London sent forward Brady Pataki to the Jr.B St.Thomas Stars to work on his game.
London has 15 games left in their season and are currently watching the Erie Otters pull away with first place in the Western Conference as well as first overall. London has to be concerned with sliding further back down the standings and into the fourth of fifth spot in the West. Of the 15 games the Knights only have 4 home games left and head out on the road for 6 of their next 7 games.
AS ALWAYS SEE YOU AT THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!