The Peterborough Petes are still struggling over two months in to the 2002-2003 OHL season. Early in the season, the Petes biggest deficiency was their defence. While the defence continues to struggle, the lack of second, third and fourth line contributions have been the major problems of late.
The defence has improved, largely because of the emergence of Mark Flood as a good, reliable defender, and the fact that Lukas Krajicek, one of the leagues elite blueliners, has been finally playing regularly. Krajicek has helped improve all the defencemen, and rookie Aaron Dawson has been steadily improving. Make no mistake, the defence still is a problem area, however it has improved lately and the players must receive credit.
The forwards have been experiencing problems in recent weeks. Aside from Eric Staal, Jamie Tardif, Greg Chambers and occassionally captain Jon Howse, the forwards have had a tough time putting the puck in the back of the net. The third and fourth liners also have not been contributing as much energy as needed, although coach Rick Allain hasn’t helped matters any by making James Edgar a healthy scratch recently. Edgar does not contribute much offensively, but when in the lineup, he often provides a spark and can inspire his team, and the hometown crowd if given the chance.
Forwards like Jason Penner, Josh Patterson and Jordan Morrison must contribute more goals. The club will be in dire need of goals when superstar Staal attends the Canadian junior team selection camp in mid-December. Staal has a great shot at making the team, unless the Canadian staff continue to be afraid of offensively talented players. With the possibility of Staal being gone for nearly a month, the Petes could struggle mightily over the holiday period.
As for goaltending, David Currie continues to stand on his head, and if it weren’t for him, the Petes could be losing big nearly every game. The optimism comes from the fact that the defence did improve, which means maybe the scoring will too. If certain forwards can handle the pressure of playing without Staal, and thrive, the Petes could make a mid to late season charge, although it appears that a trade or two is needed if they want any chance of catching Ottawa, Belleville or Oshawa in the OHL’s tough East division.