By Bruce Berlet
HARTFORD, Conn. - After ending a franchise record nine-game winless streak Sunday with a 7-1 win over Bridgeport, the Wolf Pack had its offense stall again Tuesday night, in a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Marlies at the XL Center.
"I didn't like tonight's game one bit," Wolf Pack coach Ken Gernander said. "It's not the type of hockey that the Wolf Pack is supposed to be playing."
No one would argue that assessment, including captain Dane Byers.
"It's tough to swallow," Byers said. "We did a lot of good things the other night (against Bridgeport), and it's disappointing when we come out and have the effort we had tonight. It's unacceptable. We've got to put our nose to the grindstone and work through this. It's not fun right now, but I still believe in this team. We've got a lot of the season left."
The romp over the Sound Tigers that included the first North American hat trick for Norwegian import Mats Zuccarello seemed an aberration 48 hours later. The Wolf Pack were shut out for the second time this season, and aside from the Bridgeport game, they have scored 10 goals in 10 games.
After the first period ended in a scoreless tie, the Marlies (5-6-0-2) scored on two of their first three shots in the second, got 33 saves from Jussi Rynnas and dropped the Wolf Pack to 4-9-2-1 on the season.
"I can't put my finger on what happened (in two days)," Gernander said. "If we had quick, easy answers obviously we would rectify the situation. To me, it's inexcusable. I didn't like most of what transpired, and it has got to change.
"I think we have some guys underachieving," Gernander said. "I talked at the start of the year that I thought we were going to be a very tenacious team, a very hard team, but tonight we didn't finish checks, we didn't create turnovers and we didn't force the issue. We turned pucks over instead. They were very passive coming through the neutral zone, and we weren't determined to get it deep and go chase it down.
"And I don't think we did enough with the puck as far as putting it in smart areas and making them come 200 feet as opposed to just turning it over and allowing them on a short rink."
To continue reading if you're on the home page, hit the read more button below.