The CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins feel they have mostly done the right things so far, but aren't getting the results.
That was the message from head coach and general manager Keith Cassidy after two tight road losses on the weekend sunk the team deeper into what is now a 2-7-1 slump to start the season. The Bruins lost 2-0 to the Humboldt Broncos on Friday and 2-1 to the undefeated Flin Flon Bombers on Saturday.
"If you'd told me last year that we'd only give up two goals in each of those games, I'd have told you we'd come back with four points," said Cassidy, referring to the team's offensive struggles out of the gate.
"I think we created enough chances; again, it's just that the finish is something that's eluding us and we're going to have to adjust that. I think for the most part, we played well."
On Saturday, against a Bombers club that is 8-0 and has scored almost five goals per game in the process, the Bruins kept it to a one-goal game.
Cassidy said the Bombers' second goal, scored by rookie sensation Brett Boehm with five minutes left in regulation, should have been blown dead for icing.
All three goals came in the third period. Brett Penner got Flin Flon on the board first at 4:57 on what Cassidy termed "a goal scorer's goal," sniping a wrist shot from the goal line that managed to find a tiny hole in the short-side top corner that goalie Curtis Martinu didn't have covered.
Bruins defenceman/winger Brett Dumaine responded only nine seconds later to tie it up, and that score held until Boehm's late marker.
The shots were 43-31 for the Bombers.
"We played hard, and I think although we didn't get the result we wanted, I think the guys felt that we were right there with what you'd call the high water mark in the league right now," Cassidy said.
Against the Broncos on Saturday, the Bruins couldn't get anything going offensively.
"It's a 2-0 game, another low scoring game and we're going to have to find a way to win those. I was very pleased with the way we played on the defensive side of the puck," said the coach.
Joey Davies opened the scoring two minutes into the game and John Lawrence gave the Broncos some insurance about a minute into the second period.
The Broncos outshot the Bruins 23-22.
Asked if he felt the Bruins can still finish among the upper echelon of the league this year, Cassidy replied, "Absolutely. You look back at the scores, how many have we only allowed two goals and not come out with any points?"
He said the most important thing, aside from the scoring woes, is for the players to get mentally fresh and try to be positive about their game.
"Being confident in what we're doing, which is probably leading to some of the scoring issues," he said. "We're going out there, we're working hard, we're doing the things that are asked of us and we're generating the opportunities, it's just that last part of it about finishing off that isn't coming around yet.
"I think that's wearing on everybody's psyche right now and then it's a vicious circle and you put more pressure on yourself."
He added that the team is frustrated over the results it has gotten so far.
"The big deal for us right now is just to get back to enjoying playing the game. I know everybody is, I wouldn't say they're down, but they're frustrated at this point with the effort that's been put in without the results."
Cassidy said he is exploring the trade market this week to try to bring in some scoring help in time for the weekend, when they host Flin Flon on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and visit Weyburn on Sunday.
"At this point you have to explore all options. Monday was a day spent exploring those and we want to bring in somebody that can help us on the scoring front," said Cassidy.
Meanwhile, injured goaltender Steven Glass (knee) is resuming light skating this week in the hope of being back in early November.