Sunday, April 20, 2014

So, we are back to square one!

Riley Stadel celebrates - Shoot the Breeze 
  • The Kelowna Rockets need to bring an A grade effort to the table if they want to beat the Portland Winterhawks. In game two of the Western Conference final Saturday night, the home team would have struggled with a passing grade. After an emotional come-from-behind win in game one, the Rockets showed little raw emotion in a 5-3 loss. While building up a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, the jump and jam the team showed a night earlier wasn't there. On this night as the game went along, the Winterhawks got better while the Rockets battle level went in the opposite direction. 
  • Three Winterhawks goals in span of just over two minutes in the second period was the turning point as the Rockets stood around watching and literally not skating. Stick checking became common place after playing a physically determined game a night earlier. Brendan Leipsic's game winning goal was a defensive display of 'poke and hope' hockey which won't work against this highly skilled opponent. Anything that could go wrong - did - in that two minute and 10 second span of the second period including a big save. 
  • A clear indication that the Rockets weren't engaged in the game was when their best skater wasn't skating. Outside of a determined effort while killing off a second period penalty, Tyrell Goulbourne wasn't skating with the same determination and making contact with anyone wearing a red jersey. It could be argued that Goulbourne was one of the most affective players in game one.  Why? Because he was moving his feet and playing with a chip on his shoulder.
  • Game two had no where near the chippiness of game one. The officiating staff may have had something to do with that but the Winterhawks clearly played a calm and composed game and didn't agitate the Rockets. That clearly works in Portland's favour in my opinion. The Rockets play with more determination when the game gets greasy.     
  • When Nick Merkley is your best player that isn't a great indication of your teams overall effort. The 16 year-old is a dynamic young player, but he can't be your one stud in the Western Conference final. It has to be the older players that have to be accountable for bringing their level of play to where it needs to be in the third round of the playoffs.    
  • Don't score first. The team that has scored first or has carried significant leads has lost.
  • An interesting move by Winterhawks head coach Mike Johnston when he elected to pull starter Brendan Burke after the Rockets made the score 3-1. Twenty year-old Corbin Boes entered the game cold and came up large on a Tyson Baillie attempt which would have made the score 4-1. If not for that Boes save on Baillie, would the game have changed as dramatically as it did in the second period?   
  • Outside of a Carter Rigby hit on Winterhawks d-man Josh Hanson in the first period, can you name one really good hit the Rockets applied in the game two setback?       
  • The Rockets have to play with emotion. They have to play with urgency. It causes the Winterhawks headaches and doesn't allow them to skate freely up the ice and in the offensive zone like they did in game two.   
  • The good news is the Rockets weren't very good...in fact below average and still were within a goal  until the 8:45 mark of the third period. In a game where few players brought their best game, the room for improvement is vast heading into game three and four in Portland Tuesday and Wednesday night.
  • Derrick Pouliot had a bounce back game for the Winterhawks. After recording a minus 3 in game one, the 19 year-old chipped in with two assists in a game two win.
  • The Rockets power play is 3 for 7 in the series (43%) while the Winterhawks are 3 for 12 (25%) with the man advantage.
  • Officiating was very good in game two. No one is going to like every call but they stayed out of it and let the teams play.
  • The crowd was outstanding. Six thousand 341 took in Saturday's game which bested game one's crowd of by 123 bodies.

2 comments:

g.k said...

Hey Regan hope you enjoy your few days in Portland!! I believe for the Rockets to win a game in Portland they are going to need Cookie to come up with a stellar performance, I don't think he's played as well as he can in the series so far, also we need more out of our older players such as Tvordon & Olsen, they have been subpar as far as I'm concerned, & both need to play much tougher & use those big bodies to their advantage. Good luck Rockets!!

Peter Maryschuk said...

Regan, what is the injury to Myles Bell and is there any chance he gets back into this series?

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