Monday, November 30, 2015

Lack of discipline in lacklustre road loss

  • The Kelowna Rockets should feel good about the weekend. No, not because of their sluggish play. The Victoria Royals were the better team in both games. The Rockets should be grateful to come out of the two games with no less than two points. In essence, the WHL leaders closed out the weekend in the same position they entered it. The Rockets have a slim three point lead on the Royals for top spot in the Western Conference, but the lead has diminished to just a single point on Red Deer for top spot in the Western Hockey League. While the team wasn't very good Friday in a 3-1 win, thanks primarily to goaltender Jackson Whistle, Saturday's 5-1 loss was a greater indication of how poorly the Rockets played and how determined the Royals were in handing their BC Division rivals their 6th regulation loss of the season. 
  • A lack of discipline has been a factor for the Rockets this season and it rears its ugly head Saturday night in the 5-1 loss. The Rockets took eight trips to the penalty box and the Royals promptly scored four goals with the power play. The eight penalties could be expected if the Royals played the in-your-face style we have been accustomed to over the years, but Dave Lowry's crew no longer plays that way. They play smart, tactical hockey where they attempt to outwork you. If you are lazy and use your stick to check, you will find yourself in the penalty box. That was the case Saturday and was the case Friday when the Rockets were fortunate to kill off all six power play chances the Royals were granted. On Saturday night the Royals power play unit was crisp and the visitors paid mightily.     
  • Speaking of the Royals, is it not amazing how head coach Dave Lowry has changed the way his team plays? It is a stark contrast to a season ago. The Royals were arguably one of the dirtiest teams in the league last season. They would try to beat you into the ground physically and when the game was over the scars on your body was a sure sign you were in a battle. But with a smaller team this season, Lowry has altered the way they play likely more than any other team I've seen this season. From year-to-year, most teams in the WHL play generally the same way. Not the Royals. Outside of outworking the opposition, which is a Dave Lowry staple, the Royals are much different in their tactical approach to beating the opposition. Frankly it's impressive. 
  • The Rockets generated a season low 15 shots on net in Saturday's loss. No wonder they trailed 3-0 after 40 minutes when they fired only 9 shots on the Royals net.
  • Cole Linaker scored the lone goal for the Rockets, his first in eight games. 
  • I thought it was a pretty good weekend for 16 year-old Jonathan Smart. I think the rookie is outplaying fellow fresh faces Brayden Chizen and Danny Gatenby for ice time. 
  • November will go down as a solid month for the Rockets. They suffered one regulation loss in 11 games (9-1-1-0). By comparison, last season in 14 November games the team was (9-2-3-0). 

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