Thursday, November 6, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • It was interesting to see Evan Bloodoff relegated to the Rockets 4th line in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Tri City Americans. The third year forwards play is catching the eye of the coaching staff, but in a negative way. Bloodoff needs to pick up his play or the next move will be to the 5th line...that 5th line consists of wearing your suit and sitting in the stands.
  • Does Lucas Bloodoff realize the opportunity he's been given? The 21 goal man from last season is now playing with two players, Benn and Long, who can only bolster his point totals in his 19 year-old season. Bloodoff has to remember his role on that #1 unit, but what a platform for him to show NHL scouts what kind of player he really is. Seizing the opportunity should be utmost on his mind. Taking it foregranted could be the difference between playing pro hockey next season or returning to the Rockets as a 20 year-old.
  • I ran into a Tri City Americans fan Tuesday night who had some nice things to say about the blog. He is a regular reader and I appreciated his positive feedback. Now if I could just remember his name?
  • Kamloops Blazers head coach Barry Smith is a good quote, but long term, it may come back to bite him. Smith's emotion often times pours over during a post game interview and Smith's blatant honesty comes out when a more politically correct response may be more appropriate. While saying something against an opponent may raise some ears during the regular season, it can be a motivational tool used by the opposition in a playoff series. That said, if the Blazers can play with the same or as much intensity as their coach, they should win a lot of games this season. He isn't bland nor boring to talk too. Smith is a lively character to be certain. I like him!
  • Speaking of coaches, how good is the coaching in the Western Hockey League these days? Leafs head coach Ron Wilson may want to take a closer look at what's happening out West before making a comment about how much better the coaching is at the NHL level. I am not saying junior coaches are better than what's at the NHL level, but Don Hay, Barry Smith and Mike Johnston are no slouches. These coaches at the junior level in fact may have more responsibility than the pro coach, as they deal with a younger age group, billets, curfew and schooling.
  • Their is no denying that the Vancouver Giants are the class of the WHL this season. But what I want to know is how far are the Rockets away from joining the Giants as an elite team? We will find out next week when the Rockets and Giants meet in a home and home series. It will be that set of game that will expose the Rockets for the team they really are. When and if those holes are exposed, GM Bruce Hamilton will surely address them. Does that mean personnel changes? If your a member of the Kelowna Rockets, it's best you bring your 'A' game to the table in those two games next week.
  • I thought it was awesome that Rockets captain Colin Long did vote in the U-S election. Long's parents were savvy enough to bring him a ballot when the team made a stop in Everett a few weeks back. Long voted for Barack Obama while the team bus headed to Seattle for a game against the T-Birds a night later.
  • What are the benefits of being a healthy scratch? Just ask Rockets rookies Curt Gogol and Aaron Borejko. While the two were scratched for a game against the Americans they had a chance to enjoy the Mexican food at one of the several concession stands at the Toyota Center. I've tried the food at the arena, and despite not knowing exactly what I'm eating, it tastes delicious. I would have just hated to be at their end of the bus at about 3 am when the Mexican food kicked in.
  • It's a small detail, but I find it interesting when I look through the WHL Guide that two teams fail to have a picture of their coach. Prince George and Red Deer are the two offending teams.

14 comments:

EX COACH said...

Regan:

WHy do u keep harping on the 4th liners like Evin Bloodoff... What I would like to see is the Jamie Benns and Colin Long step it up when they play the likes of the A teams like the Giants, Brandon, Spokane.

On one of your blogs one comment was that Tyler Myers was being overworked and playing way too much.. Looked like a 60 year old. Well come march, guess who will be burnt out, the Myers, the Barries,..You need to develop players. If you like at the Vancouver Giants play, they have scoring from all lines. and allines get equal ice time.

Rocketwatcher said...

Regan you are so right. Calgary and Vancouver are the class of the league so we will see how the team measures up....and not just with a home effort...road wins are just as critical....and ex coach I agree...if you dress em play em....or suffer the consequences..

MG said...

EX coach,

Regan is right about the 3rd and 4th liners and Hmmmmmm Benn and Long step it up ??First you have to realize that when playing any team A, B or C these guys are focused on and checked hard. Second, given this, Benn still has 32pts in 16 games and Long has 29 in 17.....I think they are stepping up quite well really.

It is the Bloodoffs, Almonds and McMillans that need to elevate their play so that when Benn and Long are being checked to death every shift, those other guys are putting the puck in the net.

Regan Bartel said...

I'm not saying the 3rd or 4th lines are suppose to shoot out the lights...that's totally unreasonable. A great season for Spencer Main is 10 goals as a 16 year-old. But the Rockets need more secondary scoring no question. That's hampered right now with the loss of St. Denis. But if Benn and Long play at the World Juniors (which in my opinion is they will) if the second and third lines don't contribute, any points the team has gained on Vancouver prior to those players departing will be lost. For the record, I have no complaints with the #1 line. None.

Roadkillsports said...

Hey Regan.

I'm a fan of the blog out here in Vancouver...I know Spencer Main's out from this part of the west, he's friends with a few people I know...the WHL site says he has no points, but how has he done, beyond the box score?

Regan Bartel said...

Spencer has been ok. In my opinion expectations are low for him because he's playing on a veteran team and see's limited ice time. It's a big ajustment for him, but for a 16 year-old he's coming along. I anticipate him being better after Christmas as he will have 30 odd games under his belt. When I mentioned that a 10 goal season for him would be great,that may be tough to reach. Blake Comeau as a 16 year-old scored just 5 goals in his first season in the league in 2002-2003 when the Rockets won a league title.Comeau was a spare part back then. Great kid though in my dealings with him. Very personable and upbeat. He needs to have that type of attitude which will make his first season of major junior an enjoyable one.

Randy said...

Regan,
It was a pleasure to meet you on Tuesday. Growing up in the US playing basic High School Sports and College football the one thing I really see is the comradery among the hockey community. It's like one really big family.
The video clips, audio bites, and updates really show what these boys (young men) go through to realize their dream of making it to "The Show".
Randy

Regan Bartel said...

Hey Randy. How rude of me not to ask you your name the other night. I was nice to chat with you for the few moments I had in the intermission. I am glad your enjoying junior hockey, and the Americans are fun to watch....even if they beat the Rockets. You have to admire these players for working hard with the ultimate goal of playing at the NHL level. While few if any will ever make it that far, it's neat to see them all striving for a common goal. These guys don't get paid a thing, but man they sure put on a good show.

David said...

Regan

David said...

Whoops, push enter too soon. Here's my comment:

Regan:

In general I agree with your comments but I think too much is being made of the offensive needs of our team. When I compare the Rockets to other league leading teams, especially the Giants, a glaring difference is our dismal plus/minus (for the entire team). We shoot out the lights on the powerplay but 5-on-5 we are brutal. Much has been said about the 20 y/o goalie, and the young defense - but its a team game. Until our forwards (top to bottom)are held more accountable for hard work in their own end we will struggle against the better teams. So I'm less concerned about 2nd and 2rd line's production, its their inability to hold the other team off the scoresheet that needs work. Similarly, if you take away PP points from 1st line they aren't much better.

Regan Bartel said...

Dave, good thoughts. If your a first time poster, I am glad you took some time to share your thoughts. How did the Rockets in 03/04 win a Memorial Cup? It wasn't by scoring goals. Defense does win. I thought it was interesting to note that the Rockets have allowed the 2nd fewest shots on goal in the league, just behind Vancouver. I think the general thought in the early stages of the season was to keep the puck in the offensive zone, taking pressure away from a young defensive core. But agreed playing team defense (forwards included)will take you a long way. Unfortunatley for gifted offensive players, playing defense is not a fun part of the game.

David said...

Alan Caldwell made an interesting analysis on his blog regarding the Rockets and discrepancy between the teams low shot count against and goalie performance. He noted that when Lazuruk is in net he faced on average just over 25 shots a game but Brown only 18. He suggested that perhaps the boys tighten up a bit defensively when the rookie is in net - again this reinforces the point about the need for team defense. Lets just hope they team comes out well prepared and rested for the Giants on Wednesday.

Jasperoni said...

I'm actually not very concerned with the defence. In '04, our defence won that Championship almost single-handedly. But you forget, those were the pre-NHL lock out days when the two-line pass reigned supreme. This is a new era of Hockey, a more offensive minded era. Comparing the '04 Rockets to the '09 Rockets is like comparing Apples and Oranges.

In order for teams to be successful now, they need to be balanced. The '08 Detroit Red Wings are an extremely good example of how a balanced team (like the Kelowna Rockets) can defeat an offensive powerhouse (like the Vancouver Giants) with absolute ease when they get things rolling.

The Rockets need to focus on two immensely huge issues if they want to succeed. Depth scoring, and goaltending. Going back to the Detroit reference, Detroit’s top line was superb, but it was the second and third liners, and a hot goaltender, that won Detroit the Stanley Cup.

If the Rockets want to succeed, they need to either begin building some major chemistry on the second and third lines, or make a trade for an offensively talented player who would give one of those lines an automatic boost like the teams in our division have done in the past few seasons. (McArdle and Setoguchi are prime examples) Our 5 on 5 play has been pathetic because no one else has stepped up consistently besides our top line. Benn and Long are being checked heavily by each team’s best defensemen. Bringing in another offensive weapon would take pressure off of them, and allow the lines to start flowing at even strength. You’ve all witnessed the Rockets on the power play, and what Benn and Long can do when the pressure is off of them. With secondary scoring, we would see a stronger 5 on 5 game.

The last issue, as I said above, is goaltending. I’m not sure what is going on with Lazaruk, but he either needs to shake it off or the Rocket’s will need to move on. We are looking at a team capable of being a Memorial Cup contender with one or two moves, and we can’t sit around waiting for Lazaruk because if we blow it this season, we’re looking at a pretty bleak future if we’re banking our hopes on Jamie Benn returning to us next season.

The defence needs to be left alone to build chemistry and gain experience. That is absolutely crucial, and the Rockets are doing a superb job so far. At the beginning of the season I was immensely disappointed with the defence, mainly Riley McIntosh. But only a few months into the season, the transformation has already made huge strides. McIntosh is looking a lot better on the ice and isn’t looking as afraid in the corners as he was only weeks ago. The little defensive issues will hammer themselves out with continued ice-time.

The Rockets would be a force to be reckoned with if they had a solid #1 goaltender and consistent secondary scoring.

Rocketwatcher said...

Jesperoni a very articulate and well thought out comment. I have to vigorously disagree with you about the d however. I agree the talent is there but the ice time allocation is weak for the 5th and 6th dressed guys. With Dowzak back, and the Mexican food munchers taking turns, if you want the d core to gell they have to see some minutes. As well as the top four play, they will wear out and make mistakes through fatigue. I understand coaches bringing along rookies slowly but Kelowna overdoes it to me. Other than that point I really enjoyed your comments. Thoughts, Regan??