Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grabbing the Tiger by the Tail

  • Torrie Jung was especially sharp in this one. Don’t let the three goals he allowed in regulation time cloud your thoughts on his performance. Jung was forced to make five tremendous saves, and you could sense early on that he was on his game. Jung took away what I anticipated to be three goals. My theory is simple. I want the Rockets goaltenders to make at least one save that they simply shouldn’t make. Jung didn’t do it once, but three times. Why he wasn’t a star in the game is beyond me.
  • Luke Schenn proved why he is rated so high for this summers NHL draft. In arguably his best game of the season, Schenn was physical, and handled the Tigers relentless fore-check with ease. Schenn’s composure with the puck was second to none Saturday night and his ability to skate the puck up ice while leaving the opposition in his wake was truly impressive. Schenn finally elected to shoot the puck, something the coaching staff have been harping on him to do. He didn't look like first round material in Swift Current the night before, but he had the makings of a sure fire pick one night later.
  • It’s nothing new, but sometimes simplistic hockey is effective. The Rockets defenseman did a better job of getting pucks towards the net. The best example came on the Rockets opening goal when Luke Schenn’s point shot was stopped, but the rebound was gathered up by Cody Almond, who potted his 17th goal of the season. Defenseman Collin Bowman was rewarded for pulling the trigger from the point, scoring the tying goal with a hard shot from the blue line that surprised Tigers goaltender Ryan Holfeld. Shoot the puck d-men! Benn, Long and Leavold aren' the only ones given the green light to let it fly.
  • A turnover from twenty year-old Brady Leavold resulting in the Tigers taking a 3-2 lead didn't sit well with the coaches. The teams third leading scorer was benched for the remainder of the game. While Leavold watched from the sidelines, Dylan Hood, Evan Bloodoff and Brandon McMillan saw time alongside Colin Long and Jamie Benn. The coaches wanted to get their point across clearly to Leavold, that they didn't even use him in the shootout.
  • The flu bug is flying around the Rockets dressing room. It hit Tyson Barrie and Riley McIntosh so hard, the two stayed at a Medicine Hat hotel during the game. Kristofer Westblom was also ill, but managed to backup Jung.

    Getting the Dirt on the Draft from Dudley: Rick Dudley - Assistant GM Chicago Black Hawks

    On former Rockets defenseman Duncan Keith, an NHL All-Star:

    “He’s a well deserved all-star. He’s been our top defenseman all year. I’ve seen him go from a kid that was a likeable young man, who had really good feet that wasn’t sure how good he could be, into the all-star that he is. You cheer for guys like him because he’s a good kid and he works so hard. He is a guy that always has a team concept.
    I think the new rules have helped him, and even though he’s not a big man, he’s competitive. The only thing he did that should be a lesson to any young player is, he was 165 pounds when we drafted him and now he’s about 195. He dedicated himself to become much stronger and much heavier and he did it without giving up any of the speed that he has.”

    Dudley on small defenseman prospering in today’s NHL:

    “The small defenseman can play as the big defenseman can play. You have to have character. A guy like Duncan Keith is fearless. He will go back and get the puck under duress. It used to be the bigger defenseman would have to hold up and you couldn’t get a fore-check, but now under the new rules you need more character because you are going back with the threat of being hit almost all the time now. So whether you are a defenseman big or small, you have to have character and quick feet, and character is what Duncan Keith is all about”

    Dudley on what he saw at the NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game:

    “I liked all three of the Rockets who were there. I thought all three play extremely well.”

    Dudley on Luke Schenn’s 95 mile an hour slap shot:

    “One of the categories I mark down when I am scouting a player is the shot, and it certainly comes into play. Obviously Luke Schenn is a player you are going to report on every time you see him, but the fact that he registered a 95 mile an hour shot is an added thing for him. He has a lot of components that make him a good hockey player, but the shot adds to the dimension he’s got.”

    Can Luke Schenn play at the NHL level next season?

    “It’s much easier now. Their was a time when their were so many tricks you needed to learn like the clutching, grabbing and holding - angling and those types of things. It comes down now to more things like energy and about foot speed. Schenn is capable of skating in the NHL, he’s certainly strong enough to play in the NHL. Would you have thought a few years ago that Patrick Kane could come in and do the things he’s done? Obviously they are different players, but the fact is he’s right out of the draft and he walked right into the NHL and he’s a star.”

    Dudley on Tyler Myers:

    “I saw him for the first time at the prospects game. I liked everything about him. He’s obviously big. He appears to me to be a kid with power, with adding some muscle he can become a dimensional skater. Whether that moves him ahead of Schenn in terms of a long term future I don’t know.”

    I asked Dudley if WHL leading scorer Colin Long provides some interest for NHL scouts:

    “You have to watch somebody like that who puts up those types of numbers. Their are questions about him. He’s a player I am watching and that’s because he’s put up those types of numbers. That said, you almost discount any hockey sense he has….now you are starting to look at things like foot speed and what he does away from the puck. The fun thing about scouting amateurs is you have to be pretty good at projecting down the road. I don’t care if he (Long) is 18. If you give him the right tools and training to do over the years, I want to see how a player like that is going to be when he’s twenty-two. It’s amazing how far some young players come in certain areas. He (Long) is the type of player who obviously has the offensive capacity; it depends on the rest of it.”


MG said...

This weekend left me wondering a bit about our top line.

First do you think that the Bronco's and the Tiger's saw enough tape that they were able to and focused on shutting down Long, Benn and Leavold ??? They were pointless the whole weekend..:(

Second as we head into the playoffs if teams like Everett, Tri Cities or Seattle are able to shut down the top line can the other players step up enough to win games ??

Are we a one line team ?? At times it appears to be so but on paper the other lines should be almost as effective.


g.k said...

Regan do you think one turnover by one our top forwards deserves a benching for the rest of a very important game, my feeling is the message would have been loud & clear to Leavold by just missing a few shifts, we could of used him in both the OT & SO !!

Regan Bartel said...

Agreed. You don't put up those type of numbers as a line and not be noticed by other teams in the WHL. That line has been studied to death by the opposition, and understand how each player reacts in a certain situation. That's where the team must avoid being predictable. Friday night the Broncos played attention to Long, Benn and Leavold on the power play, because the d-men would never shoot the puck. The d-core would pass it down low and look for those three to create the magic. The d-men shot the puck more on Saturday and it created chances. Bottom line is, if the #1 line is being held in check, that should only create chances for the second line. Cody Almond and company found that out first hand Saturday night in the Hat.