- Determination will beat skill in the playoffs almost every time. It will win out every time if it is coming from the entire line up. That is exactly what we saw in the Portland Winterhawks 3-2 win Saturday night at Prospera Place. The Winterhawks, as a group, had a higher compete level and it was clearly evident in the one goal game. Nic Petan wasn't great. Oliver Bjorkstrand wasn't riding on his white horse to save the day. They didn't need too. While both elite players were good, the team-mates that surrounded them did whatever they had to do to make a contribution. The Rockets, like we've seen in this years playoffs, looked content with playing the easy game after earning a 3-2 victory in game one. Outside of roughly six players, the compete from the home team wasn't what it needs to be at this time of the year. Rourke Chartier, Nick Merkley, Dillon Dube and Cole Linaker were the best forwards. In a seven game series against the defending Western Conference champs, that won't get it done. Now the series is tied at one win apiece with the next two games down in Portland. The first team to win three will be off to the WHL final.
- We always talk about teams learning to win and teams knowing how to win. The Portland Winterhawks know how to win. They know that at the end of the day skill won't win for them. You can't have a bunch of grinders on your team who can't score, but if the compete level is high, or higher than an opponent, most if not every time you will win. I think anyone will admit, man for man, the Rockets have more skill than the Winterhawks. But that means little if those skilled players aren't willing to pay the price. Clearly, Portland's best players are willing to do that. The Rockets elite players have to take a similiar mindset.
- Clearly Josh Morrissey and Leon Draisaitl have not looked like themselves in the first two games of this series. Neither player has looked emotionally invested. The Rockets mortgaged some of there future for Draisaitl and Morrissey in the hopes that both would step up in a series of this magnitude. They were expected to lead the team with a consistent effort and show why they are coveted first round prospects for the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. Neither player has made an impact in this series yet, and my belief is that will change.
- For a second straight game the Winterhawks opened the scoring. The Rockets also had to rally from a two goal deficit for a second straight game with back-to-back power play goals. Nic Petan would score the winner with a Denis Savard 'spin-o-rama' move at the right face-off circle that saw the puck find it's way past a startled Jackson Whistle. The Rockets, try as they might, couldn't find the equalizing goal in the final period. It was tough to do considering so many players on the roster just didn't play at the same compete level the Winterhawks were performing at. In the end, you can't have Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley playing the entire period in order to tie the score. But when those two are your best forwards on that particular night, head coach Dan Lambert has no choice but to send them over the boards to give his team the best chance of winning.
- As good as a move as Petan made on the game winning goal, it still needs to be stopped. It beats Whistle to the short side when he is deep in his net. Will it make the highlight reel? Without question. Petan makes the move with good speed and the backhand attempt on goal comes with a lot of velocity on it. But should it be stopped. Probably.
- The line of Tyson Baillie, Leon Draisaitl and Justin Kirkland were extremely quiet in this game. Frankly that can't happen. I honestly can't remember them creating a scoring chance? That line, specifically Draisaitl and Baillie were instrumental in series wins over Tri City and Victoria. But the pace of the game has increased substantially in this series and both players have had a hard time keeping up.
- The Rockets 'ship' isn't about to capsize. The series is tied at one win apiece and clearly we have not seen the best from them. But things need to change in a hurry with the next two games down at the Moda Center in Portland. Between now and Tuesday night a switch will have to go off or the Rockets will indeed be bailing water.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Winterhawks more determined in one goal win
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- Whistle first star in road win
- One 'Hill' of a night
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- Enough talk'n...let's play!
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- Rockets: More battle ready
- Here come the Hawks!!!
- Some kind of wonderful
- Royals trying to upset the apple cart
- Split on road leaves Rockets sour
- Game notes in advance of game three
- Baillie is money at the left face-off circle
- Rockets show no sign of rink rust
- Let the battle begin
- Friendship put on hold
- Loose but focused heading into Friday's affair
- Rockets and Royals clash in second round
- Soft spoken forward makes noise in overtime
- Tough night for goalies in game three victory
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