Monday, November 17, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • How much better is Kris Lazaruk feeling about his game today? Lazaruk was likely on the low of lows prior to Saturday's 5-0 shutout over the Blazers. Does he now get back in the good books with Rockets fans that have been disappointed with his play? Likely not, but it's a step in the right direction. I personally am cheering for him, because the pressure that he faced coming into Kelowna must have been immense. It wasn't like he came into the Rockets dressing room after Jung had faltered, but took over the #1 goaltending duties with the expectations that he was the savior goaltender that would lead this team to great things.
  • I had an interesting conversation with Brandon McMillan Saturday night. He admitted to me he needs to be apart of a group that has to up his play in the offensive zone. With one goal in his last 20 games I asked him if he simply is not that type of player, yet I and others are pigeon-holing him into a possible offensive threat. McMillan says he needs to elevate his play, and the two goals he's scored this season won't cut it. The good news is McMillan realizes his shortcomings and now needs to work on them. It would be interesting to see how many shots on goal he gets per game. I would imagine those totals would be extremely low.
  • Cody Almond is a different example all together. Often times criticized for shooting rather than passing, Almond's been rewarded for his efforts this season with his quick release. I'm not going to criticize Almond for his shoot first - pass second mentality because he may be the best Rocket this season...yes better than even Jamie Benn at times. Look at Evander Kane? No one shoots the puck more than Giants forward Evander Kane, and look at his offensive totals. It is clearly by design that Kane plays alongside a passer in Casey Pierro-Zabotel. If the Rockets can find a passer to complement Almond, maybe we have something here? Cody, keep shooting the puck, but don't forget what has everyone impressed by your play this season - your work ethic.
  • You have to hand it to the new group in Portland for turning that team around. Since the new ownership group/coaches took over, the change on the ice is clearly visible. So what does that say about coaching? The best coaches often times are able to get the most out of a group of players that may lack in overall skill level but can still play a solid structured team game. I am still a believer that a solid work ethic can beat a skilled team any day of the week. We saw that in 2003-2004 when the Rockets didn't put up bigger numbers offensively, but Marc Habscheid had them playing as good a team game as you will ever see.
  • Speaking of Habschied, is their any coach out there more qualified at the junior level not in the game? If I am a team that is struggling, do I not give him a call and inquire if he is interested?
  • What does that say about Luke Schenn making an appearance at Friday's game in Vancouver? To see him shaking hands with the likes of Benn, Almond, Barrie and McMillan before the game put a smile on my face. Sure Schenn now has a Toronto Maple Leafs logo on the front of his jersey, but that doesn't mean he is about to forget the teammates he left behind.
  • If Colin Long needs an endorsement to be named to the U-S World Junior team, look no further than Giants captain Jonathon Blum. I spoke to Blum about Long's chances of wearing American colours in Ottawa, and Blum strongly believes Long should be there. Blum is an automatic to be named to the team when U-S Hockey reveals it's roster in early December. Let's hope Long - despite being from the dreaded WHL - gets a shot at representing his country.
  • An interesting intermission at Kamloops Blazer home games. A car dealer parades his vehicles around the ice to the awe of the onlooking crowd. And just in case you didn't catch it in the first intermission, you get a second chance to see those same vehicle in the second intermission. What a treat!
  • Now the Vancouver Giants do it right. Once the intermission is over an off road vehicle comes flying onto the ice and starts firing t-shirts from a master blaster cannon mounted above the vehicle. The fans that scream the loudest get a t-shirt fired their way. The concept isn't new, but it works. It's better to have the building sound like a rock concert than a morgue.

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