Sunday, February 21, 2016

No third period rally this time

Shoot the Breeze Photography
  • Ryan Kubic wasn't very good Friday night in Kelowna. That said, the Vancouver Giants goaltender was solid Saturday night in a 4-2 win over the Kelowna Rockets. Kubic, who struggled mightily at Prospera Place in a 6-5 loss, made no less than three solid stops in the Giants 22nd win of the season. Kubic made two arm stops by flopping on his back in desperation, and with his left arm flush on the ice, stopped the puck from going over the goal line. Cal Foote was robbed in the second period while shorthanded when he out-waited Kubic after receiving a great pass from Justin Kirkland. Kubic would make the exact same desperation arm save on Rodney Southam in the third period. Kubic also robbed defenceman Lucas Johansen from close range with a nice glove hand save in the second period when the game was tied at one.
  • Another slow start for the Rockets in this one. Did it cost them the game? Likely not, but surrendering 19 shots on goal to the last place team in the Western Conference isn't a good sign. What it shows me is one team is playing with more determination while the other isn't willing to work hard enough to set the tone for the game. Instead of setting the pace, the Rockets are allowing the opposition to dictate the way the game is played. When the Giants scored three-third period goals in a span of 4:14, the road team found themselves down by three goals again for a second straight night. This time a comeback wasn't in the cards.
  • The Rockets best period was the second when they out-shot the Giants 12-5 and were able to tie the score at one heading into the third period. Tyson Baillie scored his team leading 34th goal of the season on a nice set up from Justin Kirkland. Baillie now has 297 career points. The 20 year-old now has three goals in his last four games.
  • For my money, Justin Kirkland is the most dangerous forward for the Rockets right now. I also consider him to be the teams best passer. Kirkland's soft hands and ability to distribute the puck is unmatched.
  • Lucas Johansen's strong play this month is really catching the eye of NHL scouts. Johansen is outplaying draft eligible team-mate Dillon Dube right now with his strong play and ability to contribute in the offensive zone. Johansen had a goal and an assist in the loss Saturday night and is riding a five game point streak. How good has Johansen been in February? The 18 year-old has points in 9 of 10 games and has 30 more points than he did in his rookie season.   
  • The Rockets elected to start Brodan Salmond in goal against the Giants. It was Salmond's first loss of his WHL career in a 32 save effort. Salmond was unfortunate on two of the four goals by losing sight of the puck and it being eventually jammed into the net. Salmond had little chance on Carter Popoff's third period goal, when a shot from the point, which went wide, bounced off the glass and was whacked out of mid-air and into the back of the net.  
  • For a second straight game the Rockets took far too many trips to the penalty box. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as Friday when they took 10 minor penalties, but seven minors is far too many against a Giants team that scored six power play goals against them in two games.
  • Rourke Chartier had a team high 6 shots on goal in Saturday's loss. 
  • Kole Lind was a healthy scratch Saturday night. The rookie forward hasn't scored in 18 games and has two assists in his last 16 games. In December, Lind was one of the most productive players with 5+8=13 in 12 games.
  • The Rockets have lost 5 of the last 8 games played away from Prospera Place. The only saving grace is back-to-back wins in Prince George last weekend. The three game road trip continues Wednesday night with a stop in Everett, against a team they have yet to beat in three attempts this season. Two of the three game have been decided in overtime and all three games have been decided by two goals or less. 
  • The loss and Victoria's win over Kamloops, lifted the Royals into first place in the WHL standings, a point up on the Rockets. The Royals have played two more games though. 

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