|Chartier scores 47th - Shoot the Breeze Photography|
- Rourke Chartier was the best player on the ice Saturday night in a 2-1 win over the Kamloops Blazers. Why? Because he was fresh. The 18 year-old (doesn't turn 19 until April) returned to the line up after an eight game absence and scored the opening goal less than two minutes into the game in a one goal victory over a determined Blazers team. You could clearly see that the time off for Chartier not only helped him heal from his ailment, but it recharged his body and mind. Chartier was a factor almost every time he was on the ice because he wouldn't quit in pursuing the puck. Simply put, he had the type of jam and energy in his game that his teammates had earlier in the season. What does that tell you? Yes, it obviously tells you that Chartier is a talented player and is sorely missed when he is not in the line up, but what it demonstrates is the physical and mental fatigue the Rockets are going through at this juncture of the season. The Rockets are not alone as the other 21 teams are most likely feeling the same pain. The marathon 72 game regular season, which includes travel, practices and public appearances is almost over and then the real fun starts with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
- Madison Bowey wasn't very good Friday night in a 5-1 loss in Kamloops. Either were his teammates. The 19 year-old made up for his poor play Saturday night with a goal and an assist and a first star selection. Bowey made a nice hard hit early in the game, assisted on the Chartier goal and then joined the attack and scored on a nice high shot that beat Blazers goaltender Connor Ingram to the glove side. What I liked about Bowey's play Saturday was his willingness to just play defense. While joining the rush on the game winning goal, it wasn't common place that he was found up the ice. The KISS principle was applied and he was far more effective playing alongside Devante Stephens.
- You could see Nick Merkley also had some addition jump in his step with Chartier's return. What I like about Merkley is his overall work ethic and the thrill in his eyes when a teammate scores. The 17 year-old is a team player, and despite leading the Rockets in scoring, his unselfish play makes him a great teammate.
- It was a quiet weekend for Leon Draisaitl. That is not a good thing. The 19 year-old had just a lone assist in the two games. True, the Rockets only scored three goals against the Blazers in the two games but Justin Kirkland can't return to the line up soon enough. Draisaitl needs someone with above average skill to play with. While he can make others around him better, he still needs to feel good about his game and have a belief that the scoring chances he creates can eventually find the back of the net.
- The Rockets played this game without Josh Morrissey, Justin Kirkland and Tyrell Goulbourne, three marquee players. The good news is the list shorter than it was heading into the weekend.
- While the Rockets managed to split a pair of games with the Blazers on the weekend, lets remember that the BC Division rivals are a better team than what many people believe. In fact, they may have underachieved for a good portion of the season before finally finding their game. They are no slouch. I would be shocked if they don't make the playoffs.