Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb (Download)
Some interesting tidbits from my chat with Coach Lamb today. Among them? He is giving the starting job to Austin Smith to start the season and isn’t actively searching for other goaltenders. Smith played two and a half excellent games in the pre-season and one bad one. It will be up to him to show he can be consistently good.
As for Myland, a rookie is going to have some growing pains. I expect like basically every 17-year-old goaltender there will be ups and downs for him.
Whether or not the Broncos need to search for a veteran is up to Smith and Myland. For Smith his best opportunity and greatest test beings Friday in Regina.
There will likely be no cuts by the Broncos at least until Lowry and Scarlett are also back from NHL camps. Nedomlel’s return leaves them with 7 defenceman (not counting Scarlett) and 24 guys in camp (not counting the NHL guys) from my count. The axe is still hanging over the heads of at least a couple of guys that live to see another day. This weekend could be another “last chance” for some bubble guys. Playing well in the regular season against a rival could win someone who might have been on the way out some new life.
What can we expect from the 2011-2012 Broncos? A bigger, more aggressive, hard-working team. They will send two forwards in a lot of the time. They will pinch their defence a lot more now that they have some much-needed experience. They will throw the body and play gritty. Some players have already said to me they know there were teams that saw the Broncos as easy to play against before. They expect that to change. No free rides. Even if they lose a game they want to leave their mark on the opposition.
Remember they can only play three overage guys at a time so one of them will have to sit each game out until that is settled. That’s another issue still hanging over the team. Has anyone been separated from the pack? A very difficult decision still looms.
If I were a guessing man I would put decent money on there being a Gordon/Vause/Hoban or Gordon/Vause/Wagner line this weekend. Gordon and Vause tied for the team lead in pre-season points and seemed to be developing some chemistry. Both Wagner and Hoban have played a ton with Vause before so they would be natural fits on the right side. Wagner scored a hat trick with those two in PA and Hoban collected 5 points over 3 pre-season games himself. They were a terrific unit against Regina on the 10th.
I would also bet that Derko/Blanke/Dale will stay together and make some noise. Black will be on a top 6 line. I am curious to see who else is on that line though. Probably one of Peddle and Wagner. Maybe Moser and Cameron. The “4th” line is a total guess at this point. Options up the middle there are probably Cave, Mackay and Magnus.
Nedomlel will likely see time on the top units of both the PP and PK. Especially if Scarlett isn’t back yet. It appears to me that Dalton Reum has moved up the depth chart throughout camp and pre-season. Don’t be surprised to see him getting top pairing minutes on the right side until Reece returns.
I imagine if Heatherington plays Zinkan will sit and vice-versa. At least that is how I would predict it to start the season. Better to work them in slowly with a cast of veterans.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think? What kind of line-up would you like to see? What are your thoughts heading into the season?
Just a quick note about Friday’s broadcast on The Eagle 94.1 FM… I won’t be there. One of my best friends is getting married and I couldn’t miss it. I had an internal debate for a lot of the summer. I’ve never missed a game I was schedule to call before in five years. That said, a friend like that has to come before a single game. At least it does in my mind.
I will be flying back from Ottawa (likely in rough shape) on Saturday morning and driving back to Swift Current for the home opener. I don’t know if I will have any energy left for the before and after parties. Then again… it sounds like it will be a crazy day and night you wouldn’t want to miss out on. I might just have to fill myself with Red Bull and push through it.
On Friday you will be guided by the steady hand of Ryan Switzer. The voice of the Swift Current Indians and a longtime Broncos colour commentator… Ryan will have no trouble filling in. He might even be better. I probably should have thought twice about agreeing to this. I may come back on Saturday and not have a job.
Enjoy the broadcast. I know I will be checking in from my phone anxiously all night.