Thursday, March 8, 2012

Does Bell follow in McMillan's footsteps?

  • It worked with Brandon McMillan. Can it work with Myles Bell? In 2009, the Kelowna Rockets were forced to use forward Brandon McMillan as a defenceman. McMillan was so good at the position, the team kept him there full time on their way to a WHL championship. Now, three seasons later, the Rockets are looking at using defenceman Myles Bell as a forward. In fact, the 18 year-old found himself playing on a line with Shane McColgan and Brett Lyon in Wednesday's 3-2 shootout win in Spokane. How did Bell do? Well, he collected two power play assists and scored the game winner in the shootout in the Rockets 29th win of the season. Let's clarify that Bell did play the point when he registered the two power play assists, but still, he looked pretty comfortable in his new spot. In fact, he found himself on a two-on-one with Shane McColgan in the second period but was shut down by the left pad of Chiefs goaltender Mac Engel. If Bell can make the smooth transition to forward, it provides added depth and a better shooter from the wing. On the negative side, it creates additional pressure on a very young defensive core which features only one 19 year-old d-man in Mitchell Chapman.
  • We spoke about it on last night's post game show on the Rockets belief that they can indeed come back and win games. The belief is clearly there and the panic, for the most part, has faded. We saw no panic after the Chiefs took a 1-0 first period lead and out-shot the Rockets 12-3. Staying with the game plan, a power play goal from Carter Rigby resulted in the visitors slowly rallying back. It appears this team has matured over this season into one that now believes they can win even if things don't exactly go their way. That's a great sign with six games left in the regular season.
  • Rigby's power play goal in the second period was indeed his 20th goal of the season. The just turned 18 year-old now joins Brett Bulmer (32) and Colton Sissons (26) in the +20 goal club. Rigby has one of the best shots on the team and unloaded a rising shot from just inside the blue line that beat Engel to the glove hand side.
  • The power play generated two goals in the win. Zach Franko's 13th of the season was a big one for a player who has really struggled finding the back of the net this season. I have noticed that his confidence is increasing thanks to his play with line mates Brett Bulmer and Tyson Baillie.
  • Jordon Cooke made 41 saves in the win, and while solid, the 18 year-old goaltender didn't have to come through with any tremendous saves. The Chiefs shoot from absolutely everywhere, but the number of odd man rushes they created were minimal. In fact, I can only remember one. Cooke was steady, but don't be fooled into thinking Spokane created a ton of tremendous scoring chances. At times they spent significant stretches inside the Rockets zone, but I didn't think a lot was accomplished there.
  • The Rockets could have won the game on the power play when Spokane's Corbin Baldwin interfered with forward Brett Lyon as he attempted to work the puck inside the Chiefs zone. It appeared that Baldwin hit Lyon in the head, but was sent to the penalty box for interference. Lyon wasn't injured on the play, but had he tumbled to the ice, I am guessing the officiating staff may have thought long and hard about handing a stiffer sentence to Baldwin than just a two minute minor.
  • The Rockets played the game without forward Tyrell Goulbourne, who fell ill on the trip down to Spokane. Without Goulbourne in the line up, Lyon elected to fight Spokane tough guy Darren Kramer. It was Lyon's first fighting major in 16 games.
  • The Rockets have now won three straight games after back-to-back victories over Kamloops and Spokane. The Rockets will try for a season high four game winning streak when they open a three game home stand Friday against the Victoria Royals.
  • The Rockets have won three straight games - 5 times this season. The team has be unable to register four consecutive wins.


jaz301 said...

Ever since that 7-1 loss to Calgary at home it seems like its been a whole different rockets team. Huska must have really given the team a message after that game because since then they have gone 5-2-1 and they just seem to be playing better overall.

I always look forward to the playoffs, but if they keep playing like this I will be looking forward to it even more and hopefully other people will to.

g.k said...

I'm very happy to see the Rockets' playing better, considering they have nothing to play for except to get tuned up for the playoffs. I hope they can keep improving every game because their first round opponent, whether its Portland or Tri-Cities will be a tough one & they will definitely be the underdogs. Regan you mentioned in one of your previous blogs that you would rather see a Portland matchup than the Ams. What do you base that theory on? Didn't we upset the Ams in the 1st round last year? I think they could be had again!!

Regan Bartel said...

The Rockets played Prince George in the opening round last season and swept them in four games before losing in 6 games to Portland. Two seasons ago the Rockets faced Everett in round one and beat them in seven games.
The only time the Rockets have met the Americans in round one was in the 1996 playoff year, when the Americans won in 6 games.
I prefer the city of Portland over Kennewick. Much more interesting place to visit. That is my only reason behind playing the Hawks in the opening round over the Americans. I have no elaborate theory.