Friday, February 13, 2009

A 'Giant' Win!

  • The Kelowna Rockets' 3-2 overtime win against the Vancouver Giants Friday was huge boost for the team mentally. It won't make or break either teams seasons, but it does send the message that the Rockets are for real. They likely believed it prior to Friday's result, but now proved it to the league and to those fans that still doubt this team.
  • Jamie Benn's 'hit to hurt' philosophy saw Giants defenseman Jon Blum leave the game early in the first period with what could be a shoulder injury. Benn hit Blum with two solid shoulder to shoulder hits that send Blum gingerly making his way off the ice. Taking out the Giants top defenseman early in the game surely didn't hurt the home teams cause. Benn was a force physically and then went on to score once and set up two others. Was he named the games first star? Yep!
  • Giants head coach Don Hay won't like the way the overtime goal was scored by Rockets captain Colin Long. Long took the puck behind the net, worked off a check in the corner and was allowed to find a shooting lane at the left of goaltender Tyson Sexsmith. Untouched, Long roofed the winner glovehand side. Why Long - who is the Rockets leading point getter - was allowed so much time and space to get the shot off would have had Hay fuming after the game.
  • Tyson Sexsmith was very good in this one. While the veteran goaltender didn't face as much rubber as his counterpart at the other end, I thought the Rockets generated more 'dangerous' scoring chances. Sexsmith made some terffic saves, including a denial of Kyle St. Denis on a breakaway and Jamie Benn on a great glove hand save.
  • Here is an interview I had with Sexsmith before the game. Sexsmith is a well spoken, class kid.
  • Mark Guggenberger proved Friday night that he's the real deal. Guggenberger made some solid saves, only solidifying his position as the Rockets number one goaltender. Guggenberger had no chance on the Giants second period goal from Casey Pierro-Zabotel and lost a one-on-one battle on a clear cut breakaway from Evander Kane in the 3rd period. He was a pleasure to have on our post-game show after the game as he played to the crowd at Manhattan Point. One word...refreshing.
  • Unlike what has been the theme in the seasonal series between these two teams, the Rockets were the better team in the third period. The Rockets out-shot the Giants 12-6, yet the home team needed a Jamie Benn goal with 5 minutes left in regulation to tie the game at two.
  • Despite trailing 2-1 late in the third, the Rockets depth offensively has to give you a feeling that this team is never out of it, even when the chips are down.
  • I liked the Rockets defensive effort in this one. Tyler Myers chipped in with two assists and saw much of the game against the Giants top line of Pierro-Zabotel, Kane and Craig Cunningham. Tysen Dowzak was also solid. Sure his loss of the puck at the Giants blue-line created the breakaway chance goal from Evander Kane in the third period, but Dowzak was physical, got into shooting lanes, and played the way an overage defender has to play in a game of this magnitude.
  • The penalty kill...tremendous for the Rockets. To hold the Giants off the board in 6 power play chances is impressive. This penalty killing unit doesn't grab the headlines like the teams power play does, but shutting out the second best power play unit in the league is no small feat.
  • The Rockets had much to lose in this game against the Giants. Had the Rockets been on the losing end, fans both locally and across the league would have been saying that the team didn't do enough at the trade deadline to legitimately challenge the Giants in the Western Conference. Did the Rockets answer their critics? I hope they take the attitude of - who cares. All they have to know is that if they play a solid game, they are as good as the team that has a 27 point lead on them in the Western Conference standings. Could the Rockets beat the Giants in a seven game playoff series? Let the debate begin.


apsco17 said...

Hi Regan, any update on Kyle Verdino, who left the game after being hit from behind into the boards?

Regan Bartel said...

He was in the celebration when the Rockets scored in overtime. You can see him in the lower part of the photo wearing #28. Coach Huska said he was 'ok' after the game.

George Graham said...

I like your over the top enthusiasm but winning once against the Giant doesn't make us
" as good as the team that has a 27 point lead on them in the Western Conference standings"
Lets all stay a little more grounded here. It was one regular season game. Put down the pom poms Regan.

g.k said...

Hey Regan keep waving those pom poms, I sure am!! We were by far the better team than Vancouver last night & have been for a few weeks now!! If not for the one-sided reffing in this one it would of been 4-2 or 5-2 easily. I mean give me a break that 2 minute boarding call was a joke should of been at least a double minor or 5 & a game, then we get a cheap interference call right after that. It seems to me that all the so called elite teams in this league always get the breaks when it comes to the officiating. Great game though, best one this year. Hope the boys come out hard tonight too. By the way I'll be there waving my pom poms with lots of enthusiasm!!! Oh everyone I talk to agrees that the Giant's are very over rated, see what happens when you push them around a bit their soft & won't fight back.

Jared Comeau said...

IMO...we are now as good as the Giants...The only reason they have a 27 point lead is because we havn't had this roster all season. Give us this roster at the start of the year and I am confident we have 90-100 points right now and battling Vancouver for first

3stuges said...

Here, here........George this isn't the same team as the start of the season. Love to see these guys go at it in the playoffs

hocus_lopez said...

The Giants have the division, that's a given. However, they should be concerned with the Rockets come the playoffs. The Rockets are finding their stride, and they will be very dangerous as they continue to believe in themselves.

Further, the Rockets have had to endure injuries, an unfavorable schedule, a multitude of trades, finding team chemistry, missing overagers, questions in goal, etc. They have weathered the storm and they are starting to gel.

IMO, the Giants have not had to face any significant adversity this season. I think they're starting to show some chinks in their armour as the season wears on. They now have an injury to the team captain and arguably their best player, Blum. I think their game is becoming a little stale, and I believe they'll be beatable in the playoffs.

Regan, so much for Long not showing up for big games. What a load of garbage. That's two games in a row, against arguably the two top teams in the West where he has been a force both on O and D. I was at the Van game and I believe (as does the Vancover media) that he was the best player in the game. He's a big time player, who has shown even bigger shoulders in big games. I'd say it's time to put that lable to rest.

3stuges said...

What's the update on Blum?

Boondocker said...

Rockets appear to be peaking at the right time and I don't think it is by chance. Hamilton did make key move at the trade deadline that are paying big rewards. He also went out on a limb to pick Backlund, a move that raised eyebrows at the time.

IMO, Berger alone, from the start of the season would see us battling for second spot in the conference. I can think of at least 5 games that slipped away due to poor goaltending. (sorry Laz but its true)

I too am picking up my pom poms. For the first time this year I am looking forward to the playoffs.

Can anyone tell me if Duval and Breger are elegable to play fro the Rockets next year?

Regan Bartel said...

Guggenberger is technically a 19 year-old, even though he turned 20 in January. Duval is an overage, meaning you have to enjoy him for this season only.

g.k said...

I just want to mention that I haven't seen the fan's at Prospera this year as pumped as they were last night, I thought it really was a factor in the outcome of the game, keep it up faithful & you will be rewarded!!