POSTGAME: Matt Thomas Quotes (11/28)
Thunder head coach Matt Thomas spoke to the media after Wednesday’s 6-2 loss against the Alaska Aces.
RE: Tonight’s game
THOMAS: “It was pretty evident right from the get-go that we weren’t really dialed in, we weren’t really focused. I can take some of the blame of that because it’s my job to make sure the team is ready to go. It’s pretty simple stuff: it’s a controlled forecheck. We know what we’re doing off that in our sleep and if two guys don’t execute, next thing you know it’s in the back of the net. I thought Tyler Bunz played a heck of a game…every single one of [Alaska’s goals] was a breakaway or an odd man rush, so what do you expect the guy to do, you know, perform miracles? The way we played, that’s what we needed. Our dumps were horrible. If we needed a pass in front of us we were passing behind us. It was really an off night. We just didn’t have it; it’s that simple. You hope that we get it back quick, that’s really the focus for us.”
“I said to the guys, ‘We’re leaving at two. Bring movies and your game, don’t forget it at home.’ We’re going in to play a tough team on the road in Ontario. It’s a big challenge for us, but a good type of game to come back for. There’s no thinking about ‘oh it’s going to be an easy game’ when it’s potentially going to be tougher than the one we just had to play. We didn’t rise to the occasion.”
RE: This is the first time losing two in a row this season.
THOAMS: “At least on Saturday night when we lost we generated a lot of opportunities, we just didn’t execute around the net…but overall we played a better game in San Fran than we did tonight. You hate to say that you need to go through this, but you need to go through this. Every team, regardless, has a series of games or back-to-back games where they don’t play very well and we didn’t play very well. I’m not going to sit there and panic, we’ve got some good players, but guys have got to raise the level of their game, there’s no question about that.”
RE: Does the number of opposing goals concern you (12 in two games)?
THOMAS: “It’s horrible. It’s obviously a challenge to our goaltenders, but our team defense, again—I can sit there talking about Tyler Bunz needing to make more saves than he made, but three breakaways, three two-on-ones, one was a rebound goal…he stopped a couple of those breakaways and two-on-ones as well. He made some great saves for us. He really gave us a chance. That game could’ve been 5-1, 6-1 at the end of two and it was a 3-1 and he gave us a shot. We repaid him with a very, very average third period.”
RE:How much of it was Alaska?
Thomas: “I think it’s a pretty simple formula: they came out and they executed, they executed on the first shift. We didn’t and it was an uphill battle from there. They played well. We let them get into their rhythm and they got into their rhythm quickly, they stayed in rhythm. We never found a rhythm, we never found an attitude or identity within the game. If we had a good shift, then that shift we were stuck in our own end playing chase the puck around. They’re a good team, a top team in the league. We’re a good team, too, we just certainly didn’t show any signs of it tonight.”
RE:The psychological side of losing players to the AHL.
Thomas: “As a man, it’s an excuse, really. If I sat there and said, ‘Oh we need those guys to win games,’ we don’t have them, so how are we going to win games? Are we a one line team? I hardly think we are. I think we had a very good line that we don’t have anymore, but guys have got to step up. We had guys step up in the first game back. Guys came into the thing and guys haven’t done anything since, collectively as a group. Our D are making a lot of mistakes, we’re giving up odd man rushes. Our forwards aren’t generating the quality chances they need to generate to score in this league against any good team.”
“Do I think if we had Cornet, Hunter and Rajala in the lineup we’d score a couple of those goals? Absolutely. That’s what those guys do. They were hot and they were doing it well, so we definitely miss that but somebody else needs to get hot. It’s that simple. Everyone has got to contribute. The weight goes on the shoulders, but this is what these guys get paid for. It’s my job to make sure I get out of them, so I’m going to squeeze every bit of effort and execution I can out of them. They’ve got to be willing and ready to deliver.”