Wednesday, January 21, 2009

B-A-D Line Not Good Enough

  • The line of Mikael Backlund, Cody Almond and Ian Duval combined for 8 points, yet the Kelowna Rockets fell 6-4 Wednesday night to the Vancouver Giants. Backlund had a goal and two assists, Almond had a goal, an assist and a fight while Ian Duval had a goal and two helpers in the loss. The trio were the best line for the Rockets all night long.

  • While the B-A-D line was good, the line of Colin Long, Jamie Benn and Stepan Novotny struggled. Benn was the only one of the three to register a point, with an assist on Backlund's power play goal in the 3rd period. Long, Benn and Novotny were a combined -7. That unit needed to be a scoring threat for the Rockets to beat the Giants Wednesday night, and by their own admission I am sure they would say they struggled. They created some good things early, but faded as the game wore on.

  • Give me a save! I thought Rockets goaltender Mark Guggenberger failed to make a quality save in this one. I am not saying that all five pucks that got past him were his fault, but the 20 year-old needed to be much sharper in a game of this magnitude.

  • Two of the Giants 6 goals were scored on two separate two man advantages. Both were created after Tyler Myers and Lucas Bloodoff received penalties for firing the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. The Giants scored the first power play goal just 12 seconds after Myers was sent to the box before responding a minute and two seconds after Bloodoff took his penalty to put the Rockets down two men.

  • The Rockets had a 3-2 lead heading into the third period, only to see the Giants score four-third period goals in the win. It marked only the second time this season in 19 games that the Rockets have lost a game after leading after 40 minutes. The Rockets are now 17-2-0-0 when leading after two periods.

  • Forward Riley Grantham left the game in the 3rd period after cutting his left hand on a skate after he was hit heavily into the boards by a Giants defenseman. Grantham appeared to lose his glove when contact was made, and was cut by a Giants skate on the way down to the ice. He was sent to hospital for stitches.

  • Grantham was one of several Rockets who had glorious chances to score in this one. Grantham had two great opportunities, including what appeared to be a wide open net when he was fed a perfect pass by line mate Colin Long.

  • Tyson Barrie also had a great chance early in the game on a great feed from Jamie Benn to make it 2-0. Instead Giants goaltender Tysen Sexsmith came up with a big save. Cody Almond almost had his second of the game on a shorthanded goal after stealing the puck at the Rockets blue line and going in all alone on Sexsmith. Almond's effort on the forehand unfortunately went wide.

  • Evander Kane had three goals in the game, yet he wasn't the threat we saw in the first three games (he missed the December 29th matchup) of the seasonal series. Kane's power play goal was a result of being at the right place at the right time to bang in a rebound into a wide open net, and his second goal resulted in a nice move around a defenseman before tucking it short side on Guggenberger, who again should have made the save. Kane's third goal was an empty netter.

  • What's the sign of a good team? A low panic threshold. The Giants didn't freak out despite trailing after 40 minutes. They went out and out-scored the Rockets 4-1 in the third and out-shot the home team 15-5.

  • Are the Giants beatable? Absolutely. While the Rockets ran their losing streak to three games (0-2-0-1), they can take many positives out of this loss. A greater contribution from the second line, better goaltending and fewer trips to the penalty box for needless penalties have the Rockets able to beat the Giants on any given night.

  • Flames Western scout Ron Sutter took in last night's game and must have liked what he witnessed.


David said...

Come on Regan. First you blast posters for going after the coaches and now you're ripping Guggenberger? I think that's a bit premature and misplaced. The goalie is way too easy a target - I thought he was solid, made some fantastic saves and did his job. Plus he's one of those players that have only been with us a few days, you're giving the forwards some slack but you're already throwing the goalie under the bus? Let's put some accountability with those that don't have any excuse - our vets. Benn and Long have been uninspired for some time. Those two have a combined 116 pts and are only +10 - that speaks volumes. This is the captain and an alternate captain - where is the leadership? Some of the other vets made some rookie mistakes (again). Remember the cause of the 5 on 3? On the bright side, Almond once again was stellar and played hard in both ends of the rink yet never seems to get the credit he is due. Also consider that Blum, when interviewed at the intermission, stated their strategy was to take advantage of a young defense and put as much pressure on them as possible. The opposition knows our achillies heel - the coaches need to get the team to buy in to a strategy to counteract. We can't change the defense now so the forwards have to help out more. Its a team game, the puck has to go through five other players before it gets to the goalie - geesh, I can't believe you called out Guggenberger. Are you next going to say the rookies aren't pulling their weight??????

Regan Bartel said...

Suggesting I threw Guggenberger under the bus is a little harsh. If I said Guggenberger was the MAIN reason behind last night's loss...that in my opinion is throwing him under the bus. Do I stand by my thought that Guggenberger needed to be a difference maker last night and wasn't? Yes! Do I think he's a good goalie. Have I stated he isn't?

Ryan said...

-Grantham on the PP
-two 5 on 3 goals
-Benn not making any effort
-very poor defensive group, actually a below average group. Not going to win much with a backend like this
-average goaltending

Take your pick as to reason why we arent that good.

Its a shame that guys arent feeding off of Almonds play, he has been incredible all season and is finally getting rewarded for his efforts.

David said...

OK, I'll accept 'under the bus' was a bit harsh. But I still think your 'Make a Save!' comment was premature and wasn't directing attention to where it really should be. As well, 'goalie graveyard' isn't going to be a phrase that helps us at this time of year. If you ignore the 2 5-on-3 goals and empty netter, Guggenberger had a better GAA and SV% than Sexsmith so maybe he was a difference maker. Vancouver out shot us 32 to 24! At home! And we're supposed to have (one of) the league's best forward core! So apologies for being too harsh, wasn't my intention, my real point stands - the spotlight needs to be more outside the crease. I'm sure you've heard more than one well regarded coach/GM say 'Team Defense wins championships'. I think we have a way to go on this. Ouch! I just hurt my ankles falling off the soapbox :)

Missile said...

Kelowna is known as a defenceman factory, and this group, although young, ain't that bad. Problems have arisen with what they have been drafted for and how they are being asked to play. Every team in the WHL and NHL is begging for good skating puck moving defencemen, that can make a good initial breakout pass, and barring that , carry the mail until someone gets open or other options open up. Vancouver has three guys like that. So why is Gogol, who if you read his bio, and why he is a Rocket in the first place, either a spare part on forward, or not carrying it out more when he does play? Verdino played a year at forward. He should be able to carry it out as well. Myers and Barrie can't do it all night. I do not believe in taking away the skill set of your draft picks and molding them into what is maybe foreign to them. It leads to tentative play, which leads to getting benched. Play to your strengths and pair opposite styles up. Then this can be a good back end with every combination bringing something to the table. I disagree that the d are weak....they just need to be used properly....And to rattle a young defenceman's confidence is a dangerous practice indeed, and lately Myers just hasn't been himself.....why is that? Bowman has played better as well but showed signs that he's back yesterday. Put it all together, coaches. That's what you do.....

entropyyy said...

in reality,guggenberger held his own against vancouver,he was decent,wasnt STELLAR but neither was sexsmith,he made a few decent saves aswell. the thing was stupid panic penalties,the giants putting on pressure and the delay of game penatlies lead to 2 5 on 3 situations and 2 powerplay goals. the 5-on-3's led to the goals,but you have to blame the team as much as the goalie,they're all the team. it's hard to blame him when there was only 3 guys to help him,obviously blotchy coverage as they were 2 men down,its something you just have to try and stay with and hope for the best. i'd say stupid penalties were the downside. benn had a few hits and was decent,almond stood out aswell,obviously.

Jasperoni said...

I wouldn't point fingers at any specific player. The whole team came out flat in the third period, stopped hitting/fighting and that ultimately allowed the Giants to come back and win the game.

My only concern is the fact that the Rockets specifically went out, found the toughest prairie boy the WHL can offer to protect the players, and now they don't even use him for protection.

When Backlund got attacked by the benches, Huska should have had Grantham out on Evander Kane the very next shift. Send a message to Don Hay and his players that we won't be putting up with the BS.

And when the Rocket's began going flat in the third period, Grantham should have been out there throwing his weight and trying to spark a fight. If the Rocket's would have kept hitting the Giants and forcing them backwards, we would have won that game.

It's things like that that make the opponent respect you. Pierro-Zabotel's victory lap and crowd taunting during the three stars after the game made it quite apparent that the Giants do not respect the Rockets.

Jared Comeau said...

The Giants don't respect anybody...they are a group of arrogant egotistical boys who think they are unbeatable...Simple as that...Even David Michaud said the same thing on air last year

Calijh7 said...

I can't stand the Giants either, Most of the players that play from that system are classless, Dustin Slade, J.D. Watt, Gilbert Brule, Triston Grant the list can go on and on. But the one thing is until someone steps up and puts it to them, they can continue breeding horrible human beings.

mike said...

Maybe rockets managment made a huge mistake in getting rid of Lazaruk? Lets not forget how well he played against top teams like Calgary, Spokane and Vancouver as well as having 4 shut outs in 3 months. In my opinion he was a leader on the team and difference maker in numerous games..What do you think Regan?

Jasperoni said...

I agree fully that the Giants are "arrogant egotistical boys".

But if you make them hurt, they won't soon forget it. In their first few seasons, they weren't that impressive and took their beatings like the rest of us.

But once they started picking up players like JD Watt, Max Gordichuk, Garet Hunt, Mark Fistric, Milan Lucic, Triston Grant, and Matt Kassian, they began to get respect from the league.

The Giants would always look to injure when they were losing.

For once we have a bigger, stronger and meaner team than the Giants. We should be punishing these guys like they did to us for many seasons.