Friday, March 27, 2009

Rockets That Impressed Me In Round One

  • Tyler Myers. The 19 year-old defenseman was the best player on the ice in the Rockets opening round playoff series. Myers was great defensively, picked good times to rush the puck, and scored two goals in a four game sweep of the Kamloops Blazers. If you could hand out an MVP award for a first round playoff series, Myers is the winner.
  • Ryley Grantham. Grantham not only scored two goals in game two, but his ability to turn the other cheek and not take a bad penalty in games three and four were down right impressive. Grantham was given an elbow by Blazers forward Tyler Shattock in game three, the hit so hard it knocked the helmet off of Grantham's head. Had the game been out of reach or had it been the regular season, Grantham would have gone directly after Shattock and took out his frustrations physically. Instead, Grantham took one for the team by staying composed and allowing his team the power play chance. One dimensional he is not. He proved it in round one. He deserves a regular shift, something not seen in players that are more known for their fists than their finesse.
  • Cody Almond looked like the player he was in January, when everything he touched turned to gold. Almond was one of the hardest working Rockets in the opening round playoff series, and the hockey God's looked favorably upon him in game three when he scored the tying goal with 3 seconds left in regulation time and the game winner in overtime. Almond was a +6, leading the Rockets in that category.
  • Brandon McMillan. His ability to use his speed to move the puck out of his own zone was invaluable in this series. McMillan often took some physical abuse, including a big hit at centre ice in game four that went undetected by the officiating crew. McMillan was a +4 in the series. Only Tyler Myers was better when it came to defenseman with a +5.
  • Lucas Bloodoff. He came to crash and bang, and played his role to perfection in round one. The well spoken Bloodoff led the Rockets in penalty minutes (11) and is the Rockets version of Vancouver Giants forward Lance Bouma. Is he a clone? Not exactly, but Bloodoff was the first to pucks and played a gritty game. While he failed to score in the series, his efforts do not go unnoticed.
  • Stepan Novotny. Considering he was making his WHL playoff debut in this series, Novotny scored three nice goals in the opening round. You have to remember that Novotny is just 18 years-old and has a bright future with this team. It was nice to see him have early playoff success after scoring 19 times in his rookie season. Novotny's 'secondary scoring' will be a huge boost as the games get bigger and bigger, and as Jamie Benn and Colin Long get challenged by the oppositions top defensive pairings.
  • Mark Guggenberger. 'Guggs' was playing in his first WHL playoff series, and showed his value in game two with several sensational saves. He only allowed one goal that wasn't either a power play marker or shorthanded. I was glad he didn't have to snooze through the opening round, and was forced to make some big saves. Had it been the other way around, I'd be concerned about his mindset heading into the second round of the playoffs when the shooters and the quality of the shots become that much better.
  • You don't register 10 points and not get some recognition for your efforts in this series. Jamie Benn had 3+7=10, impressive to say the least. Benn had five more points than his nearest teammate. He continues to be a game breaker and a threat to score on every shift.

1 comment:

J.S. said...

I thought that Gogol and Callahan also limited the sin bin time. I counted 8 powerplays that Kelowna got against Kamloops when they took their frustrations out on the GMC line. With the powerplay so anemic it's too bad that energy line doesn't get the odd shot at PP time. I disagree with your color guy that Grantham is effective on the energy line. Main Bloodoff Gogol and Callahan skate better. And I hope Grantham still remembers how to fight when he's called out. That is his first job first and foremost. Scoring is just gravy...he's already been drafted for his toughness, I would like to see the intimidation factor more. But you are right Regan about needless penalties. We have seen Huska bury some of the rookies for taking them...I still love to watch the kid line get after it though.....they are fun to watch.....can you tell I like the old style hockey still?? The playoffs are shaping up to be a lot of fun to watch. Tell Gord to put his clubs back in storage....