Maine Hockey Journal

Theme of the day is a simplified game for the Pirates

The theme from the Portland Pirates after practice this morning at Portland Ice Arena is they need to simplify their game, and get more pucks on Monarchs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier.

The Pirates head to the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester tonight for Game 3 of their Atlantic Division semifinal down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series against the Monarchs knowing they need to start scoring if they want to see another game at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

More importantly they need to start scoring at even strength.

In the first two games of the series, the Pirates have yet to score a goal while at even-strength, but a more glaring fact is Portland hasn’t received any production from their key goal scorers.

“We just have to simplify everything, get the forecheck going and any opportunity to shot the puck we need to get the puck on net as well as bodies to the net,” said Pirates’ forward Derek Whitmore. “We need to play meat and potatoes hockey and keep it real simple.”

“We have to get the puck into their zone and maintain possession and generate some shots,” said Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen. “It sounds simple, and it’s pretty basic stuff, but that is the game plan. We have to get it in their zone, get possession and retain possession and then create opportunities from there. “

Only Whitmore has been able to beat Bernier and in order for the Pirates to have any success they will need those players, namely, Mark Mancari and Nathan Gerbe, to step up and start scoring. Mancari led the Pirates in scoring during the regular season with 74 points (28g, 46a) in 74 games, but he’s only scored a single assist in the playoff series. Same for Gerbe, who has only one assist in seven AHL playoff games going back to last season.

We’re down 0-2,” said Dineen. “At the end of the day, it’s the score that matters and we have to find a way end up with more (goals) than (Manchester). That’s not easy right now and it doesn’t get easier when your confidence is shaken a little.”

During the regular season, the Pirates held a 7-2-1 advantage including winning five of the last six games so credit must be given to the Monarchs because they’ve done a strong job of shutting down the offensive threat of the Pirates during the playoff series.

“They’ve tried to neutralize our speed and our forecheck, which I think is a strength of ours and by doing that they sat back and waited for us to make mistakes,” said Wanvig. “Unfortunately, we’ve made too many mistakes and they’ve capitalized on those mistakes.”

Another key has been former Maineiacs goalie Jonathan Bernier, who hasn’t needed to be very busy in the series, stopping 44-of-46 shots in the first two games.

“It comes down to having the puck in their zone,” said Pirates’ forward Kyle Wanvig. “We just aren’t getting (possession) enough in their offensive zone… we’ve got to find away (because)20 shots against (Jonathan) Bernier, you’re not going to score many goals.”

“We’ve got to get more shots to the net and traffic in front of Bernier and go to the hard spots to score goals so it’s not always going to be pretty, especially in the playoffs and you just have to battle and do your best,” said forward Travis Turnbull.

NOTES: Drew Stafford skated for the Buffalo Sabres this morning, which means that no one will likely be recalled from Portland for Game 3 of the Sabres quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins. Philip Gogulla skated on a line with Derek Whitmore and Kyle Rank indicating that he’s returning to the lineup and Felix Schutz would be out, along with Dennis Persson and Jacob Lagace. Matt Generous (knee) and Jhonas Enroth (ankle) are still out due to injury.

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