It would have been easy to talk trash about the Flint Firebirds through a win-less start to the 2018-2019 Ontario Hockey League season. Through 17 games, Flint flopped and fumbled with a single point from a record of 0-16-1.
But a week can make a big difference. Even if it was not a perfect turnaround week.
Still minus a pair of injured veteran, 2000 birth year defensemen in Dennis Busby and Riley McCourt, Flint nonetheless finally made it into the OHL win column. Not once, but twice.
The Firebirds began last week with a 7-4 win over the Sarnia Sting and then upended the Western Conference leading Soo Greyhounds before dropping a last-minute, heart-breaking, 5-4 decision to the Mississauga Steelheads.
Thus, Flint heads into play this week with a record of 2-17-1.
And while no one associated with the Firebirds, from general manager Barclay Branch on down, was offering excuses during the awful losing streak, Flint has had to deal with a multitude of injuries this season, including ones to aforementioned defenders Busby and McCourt.
Busby, a National Hockey League draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes, broke his foot during pro training camp and has yet to play this season.
McCourt, arguably the Firebirds second best defenseman on the Flint depth chart after Busby, hasn’t played since injuring his shoulder three games into this season.
Both are apparently still weeks away from returning to the Flint lineup.
And while it has been difficult to deal with the major injuries to Busby, McCourt and others and head coaching changes from Ryan Oulahen to Greg Stefan to current bench boss Eric Wellwood, the players in Flint have managed to overcome the rude remarks of a few media morons to at least provide some hope for the 48 games that still remain on the regular season schedule.
Making the playoffs this season certainly remains a tall task for the Firebirds.
And missing the playoffs for a third time in four seasons since the Firebirds relocated to Flint via the erstwhile Plymouth Whalers may not go over well with the fan base.
But let us be mindful of the fact that there are still 48 games remaining on the regular season slate to define the Firebirds.
And let us also be mindful of the major injuries that the Firebirds have had to deal with and that aforementioned general manager Branch has done his best to try to overcome the blue line deficiency by completing separate transactions with the London Knights to bring in defensemen Ryan Bangs and Vladislav Kolyachonok.
Of note, Kolyachonok has seven assists in seven games for Flint from his blue line post since being acquired by Flint off OHL waivers from London.
A record of 2-17-1 through their first 20 games is not what any one associated with the Firebirds would have imagined in their worst nightmare when dreaming about the 2018-2019 OHL season. But nothing is ever over until it is really over.
And how the rest of the season plays out for Flint remains in its hands, injuries notwithstanding.