The Toronto Rock host their last game of a turbulent 2010 season tonight at the ACC against the Rochester Knighthawks. Both teams are flirting with the .500 mark on the season. For the Rock, it is now a case of which team will show up: the good Rock or the evil Rock.
The evil Rock were in evidence last weekend in Buffalo, where the Bandits handed the Rock their lunch in a game that can only be described as weird. The Bandits held a substantial lead at half time, only to have the Rock suddenly get interested in the third quarter. When the Rock tied the score at 10-10, it was almost as though they had accomplished their goal of getting even. They slid back into their disinterested mode to finish the game. Final score, Buffalo 13, Rock 10.
Obviously, this is not the mind-set of a championship calibre team. To be so inconsistent is an indication that something has gone wrong internally. The Rock in the first half of the season had re-acquired the old swagger of the championship teams from the recent past, but the road trip to Alberta at the half way point of the season has proven to be their undoing. Confidence is gone, the goaltending is inconsistent, and Colin Doyle seems to have his mind elsewhere. The coaches are reduced to either staring in disbelief at the mess on the floor or shouting in panic-stricken intensity at their players. My guess is that there is feuding in the locker room, but that is only a guess. How else to explain the dramatic change in appearance of what should be an excellent team?
The Knighthawks also need this game. They are 7-7 on the season, indicating mediocrity at best. However, they have won back to back games last weekend, so they would appear to be improving while the Rock are struggling.
For the Rock, it is now or never. If they are indeed worthy of our respect, they must not only win tonight, but win convincingly. Otherwise, their playoff experience will be a short one.