That's it: my New Year's resolution. With a push from my editor, who reminded all of us to blog more, I've resolved to rise this blog from the ashes.
The future posts in this phoenix-like endeavor may not be so long as this, but when you haven't blogged much all season, you've got a lot to talk about:
The Thunder are what their record says they are. We're 33 games into the season and the Thunder stand at 17-14-1-1. That's the ECHL's way -- and hockey's way, really -- of saying 17-16. They got points for those overtime and shootout losses, but...well, just but. They've won 51.5 percent of their games and, due to a combination of injuries, call-ups and all the ensuing chemistry and system-learning problems that can result from those, I think it's fair to say it's who they are.
They might get as high as 55 percent, might get as low as 45 percent, but my gut tells me they'll hover around 50 all season.
And why, you ask?
If a bird landed on their transactions wire, it would be electrocuted. It's my first year covering the professional hockey team in Glens Falls, but I've been in the area since the last days of the Adirondack Red Wings, and I've been responsible for knowing the basics of what's going on with the team and its many names. I don't ever remember an Adirondack team having gone through as many transactions in the first half of its season as this year's Thunder.
It's insane. Injuries that look benign turn long-term, injuries that look bad turn short, but then the recovered person is called up to the AHL, retirements, transfers to Europe, dogs and cats living together -- mass hysteria! ("Ghostbusters" references are always in play).
No team, unless it has a reincarnation of Al Arbour as its coach, can deal with that much change and expect to have a fantastic winning percentage.
And I can't see the transactions slowing down much. The Devils' organization suddenly has a glut of goalies. Maybe Ken Appleby gets sent down. Just maybe. And if so, for how long? And my gut tells me we'll only see Troy Bourke until Syracuse or some other AHL team needs him. Also, what new injuries await?
But there is reason for hope. Why?
Who they are (part 2). In all their home games this season, I have not seen the Thunder get outworked. They are probably one of the more blue-collar teams I've seen in any sport, and in hockey -- especially the playoffs -- that's gold.
They've lost games because they don't have true, sniper-like forwards. They've lost most games due to mental mistakes. But head coach Brad Tapper and assistant coach Alex Loh are to be commended for instilling a work ethic in this team second to none.
They've shown they have the formula; now it's just reaching the playoffs and putting it together for a sustained run. Look at the North Division, for example. We haven't seen Wheeling at the Cool Insuring Arena yet, so I don't know its style, but based on the divisional standings, let's assume Manchester and Reading are, narrowly, the class of this division. When the Thunder clog the neutral zone, keep players in front of them, get solid goaltending (which all goalies have shown they're capable of. Again, it's just putting together several consecutive games of it) and avoid mental miscues, they are as good as any team in the division.
OK, return to your eggs and coffee. Until we chat again, Happy New Year!