SPRINGHILL - It's too early to panic, but Friday night's Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League playoff preview between the Cumberland County Blues and the Pictou County Scotians had Blues fans scratching their heads and wondering what's happened to the team that won 19 straight games this season.
Including this 3-2 setback, the Blues have lost four of their last seven , one of which was in a shootout.
"It's the same deal as last weekend. We're not quite getting the 60-minute effort that we need," Blues coach Dave Hyatt said. "The way I see it, we're playing against teams that are ready for the playoffs and we're not.
"They've already gone into a playoff gear and we haven't. We have to play better."
Cool Blues captain Cody Roach is also not ready to press the panic button.
"It's the last game of the season and it didn't really mean much in the standings," Roach said. "But at the same time, we didn't want to give them confidence going into the playoffs."
"We definitely gave them confidence. That's the most dangerous thing we did, we gave a playoff opponent confidence."
Ryan Smith led the way for the Blues by scoring both goals, while assists went to Roach, Seth Crowe, Alexander McKinnon and Jeff Deruelle.
Cumberland goalie Andrew Court faced 31 shots. The Blues sent 42 shots at Melvin Day in the Pictou net.
"We need to bear down defensively and up our physical game, but I think losing to them just makes us want to work that much harder next time we meet," Roach said.
"I know we can play better, but we're still getting the shots on goal," Hyatt said.
"It's a matter of executing and right now we're having problems in that area. If you got the power plays we got in the first period and you don't come out of that period ahead you've already put yourself behind the eight-ball and that's what we did tonight."
The Blues practiced Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the playoffs. A make-up game with Antigonish might have to be played depending on the result of Antigonish's game last night, which was unavailable at press time.
Four members of the Blues earned spots on the league all-star teams announced Saturday.
Roach, a centre, right-winger Zach Carson and defenceman Ryan Oakley are on the Sid Rowe Division's first all-star squad.
Court made the second team.