SF Bulls in Vegas tonight

The Bulls play the Las Vegas Wranglers tonight.  It’s been four days since the Bulls’ last game.  Such breaks are fairly common in the ECHL.  Pat Curcio explained how the team handles that:

“The biggest thing for us is we want to stick to the plan.  We want to make sure we’re working as hard as we can.  Win or lose… push a little harder when you’ve got an extra day or two.”

This break is noteworthy because it is the first to follow a winning streak for the Bulls:

@Clendenning49: 4s gotta be a winning streak, Rollin.. @SFBulls @k_belan43 @1986jmorrison

I usually call it a streak at three but certainly four works too.  It’s another test for the Bulls: will the break make a difference?  I can feel the suspense building.

The Bulls penalty kill has been very effective lately.  Curcio credits both players and planners for this:

Obviously personnel is a big deal.  Ryane [Clowe] has had a lot of input on the pk, which has helped.  I think goaltending has been real good… Those are key things. Make sure you’ve got a good system in place, you’ve got the right personnel…  It’s been much better, much better.

I went to watch practice on Tuesday.  The forwards wear one of four colors at practice: orange, red, white or light blue.  That makes it easy to get a sense of the lines, except that Curcio wouldn’t really confirm for me which color meant what:

… the orange line has Bowers and Ouellet on it, the white line’s got Sivak and  Viendensky on it and the red line’s got Crescenzi and Belan on it… So all three lines have been contributing.  To say that we really had a top line would be tough to say.  What I love about it is that you’ve got to have all three lines contributing.  Those are three tough lines to get into right now.

Obviously light blue meant reserve/healthy scratches.  There were five in blue, including Clowe, so that was easy. It is much harder to figure out what is what when you aren’t extremely familiar with all the players, their habits and expectations.  Lack of TOI stats also makes ranking the lines a little more challenging, in a refreshing way.

Those forward lines were: Justin Bowers/Dean Ouellet/Jordan Clendenning (orange), Peter Sivak/Marek Veidensky/Jordan Morrison (white), Daniil Tarasov/Andrew Crescenzi/Kris Belan (red).

Worcester and the Bulls haven’t shown up much on the transactions pages lately.  For the moment at least, the Bulls roster seems set enough for someone to get a sense of who falls where.

Jordan Morrison.  I had to ask about him.  There he is, on that line with the Slovakians and their scoring streak, yet I notice him most during penalty kills.  I figured he probably wasn’t on that line because he speaks fluent Slovakian.  As far as I know, he doesn’t.

When I said I notice him, I mean like “OMG it’s a penalty kill what will become of them?!?!?… Oh.  There’s Number 9.  Okay then.”   I noticed him at other times in a game too, but I couldn’t explain why because I lack the vocabulary.   I could never get beyond “Morrison seems very helpful.” So I asked Curcio:

Morrison is an interesting player.  He’s a guy that has flashes of offensive ability and then you want more.  He doesn’t give you that but what he does give you is a great penalty killer, a guy you want to put on the ice in the last minute that you can trust.  He brings leadership, he’s an assistant captain and the guys respect him.   He’s a utility player with some skill.  I think that he’s got the ability to score even more… right now we like him in the role that he’s in.

It did not occur to me to ask Morrison any questions.  Hey, it’s a development league.  I’m developing.

The game starts at 7:05, listen at KNBR.com, follow @SFBullsInGame or watch on AmericaOne.com.

After my last post, (a rant about not enough attention being paid to the hockey we do have, and too much focus on the hockey we don’t have) I noticed what I can almost call a flurry of news stories coming across my Twitter feed about the hockey we can follow: Junior, AHL, ECHL and college hockey.  I can’t say it wasn’t there before but it is a great thing.

(Originally published at Kukla’s Korner.)

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