Sunday, March 27, 2011

What we've learned in this series so far....

  • Cougars d-man Sena Acolatse is a better player than I anticipated. You would think after nine meetings you would have a good read on a particular player on the opposition, but the playoffs brings out their abilities or inabilities to handle certain situations. In other words, their flaws are often exposed. The 20 year-old has been impressive on the Cougars back end. Acolatse picks the right time to join the play and makes few mistakes in his own end. He isn't error free....but who is? The Cougars hit a home run when they acquired this player. A third round pick was the asking price for Acolatse. A pick well spent in my eyes. Without question the move to Prince George gave Acolatse a chance to flourish at his true position as a defenceman.
  • If their were any questions or concerns about the Cougars goaltending being a weakness in this series, Ty Rimmer has answered those naysayers. Of the 11 goals scored by the Rockets in the first two games, two of them have been into an empty net with Rimmer on the bench for the extra attacker. The majority of the Rockets goals have been nice passing plays or quick shots from in close. The only questionable goals he's allowed was point shot blasts from Damon Severson and Kevin Smith. Even the Cody Chikie goal that fluttered by Rimmer in game two was the result of Mitchell Callahan cutting in front of the goaltender and impeding his vision.
  • The one difference between Rimmer's play and that of Rockets goaltender Adam Brown in the first two games is Brown's ability to make saves that should have probably been goals. It's one thing to make the obvious save, it's a different ball game when you hold your team in the game by making stops that should have theoretically been goals. Brown has done that on a couple of occasions while it would be safe to say Rimmer hasn't.
  • The playoffs often bring out the best in people. Geordie Wudrick may be the best example. Did you notice him slide in front of a Sena Acolatse shot in game two? It's that commitment to winning and sacrificing your body that produces a long playoff run. Those type of efforts do not go unnoticed in the broadcast booth and are clearly noted to all that are listening.
  • No question its been a sleepy opening two games for 18 year-old forward Brett Bulmer. Quiet in game one, Bulmer showed some signs of coming out of his funk in game two. What I have clearly seen from Bulmer over his short time in Kelowna is that he plays arguably his best hockey in Prince George, his home town. If Bulmer comes alive in game three and four the Cougars are in for some struggles in their own zone.
  • Shane McColgan has really impressed in the first two games. Five points, all assists, is a great way for the 17 year-old to lead the charge offensively. His compete level and ability to distribute the puck to his line mates has been solid. When he plays like an individual he is mediocre. When he makes plays and his line mates shine because of it, he looks more brilliant than he may even realize.
  • Shoot the puck! It's a frustration I have specifically with the Rockets young players when shooting lanes are created and forwards and defenceman are hesitant in firing the puck on goal. Look at Zak Stebner's goal in game two as an example. How many attempted shots on goal on that goal mouth scramble did they have before the puck went in? Simply theory that Howie Meeker has preached from day one. Look how the Cougars have scored their goals in this series. Few will make the plays of the week, but who cares!

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