GLENS FALLS — If the Adirondack Thunder players were horses, they’d be wearing blinkers for Game 3 of their ECHL first-round playoff series against Manchester.
Knowing they have to stay focused on what is in front of them and not get distracted with the periphery, the Thunder want to try to break the game down into smaller pieces as they search for their first win in the best-of-seven series.
“You can look at the big picture (before), but once you get down to game time, that doesn’t do you any good,” Thunder coach Alex Loh said. “You have to break the game down to manageable chunks, and even more than just the shifts, you can break it down to each little battle within the shift.”
The thinking behind that is that if the Thunder look too far ahead — realizing they trail 2-0 in the series and have up to the next three games in Manchester — they’d be playing right into the Monarchs’ hands.
“We’ve had a good week of practice and we’re just focused on playing one shift at a time,” forward Mike Szmatula said. “If we do that, stick to the process, we’ll let the results handle themselves.”
Of course the Thunder have a larger plan before the game. Included within that are finding ways to slow down Manchester and playing better second and third periods.
The Monarchs have scored 10 goals the first two games, with eight players sharing the honors.
“The biggest thing is probably eliminating odd-man rushes and taking away time and space from the players who have the puck,” defenseman Desmond Bergin said. “They have guys with some skill who want to make plays, so you just want to take away their time to make those plays (so they don’t) feel comfortable.”
The Thunder have been almost as reliable as a watch when it comes to their first periods foretelling the final score — they’re remarkably good when ahead and undeniably bad when behind. In this series, however, they’ve led 2-1 and tied 1-1.
“The starts actually haven’t been too bad for us. We just need to find a way to get over the hump the second two periods,” Loh said.
Coming off a 6-1 loss at home — in what could have been the last home game at Cool Insuring Arena this season — Loh said what he most wants to see Wednesday is “some pushback.
“We didn’t really have our game Saturday night, so I think it’s more about getting back to our identity,” Loh said.