Thursday, March 29, 2018

Rockets backs are against the wall!

  • Pick a cliché. Backs against the wall. Do or die. There is no tomorrow. The Kelowna Rockets are a loss away from their longest off-season in 6 seasons. Morgan Geekie had two goals and an assist in the Tri City Americans 5-3 win last night at the Toyota Center. The win gives the first wildcard seed in the Western Conference a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series with game four tonight in the old building that I knew as Three Rivers Coliseum when it opened in 1987. If the Rockets don't win tonight, it will be the first time since 2012 that the team has been swept in the opening round. Portland ended the Rockets season that year in quick fashion.
  • Let's discuss Dillon Dube's ejection from last night's game. The 19 year-old received a 5 minute major and game misconduct for a hit on Americans defenceman Dylan Coghlan at the midway point of the first period. It was Dube's second ejection in this series after receiving a 5 minute major penalty for charging in game one. I honestly didn't see the hit when it originally happened. The puck was coming up ice when it left Coughlin's stick and I was watching it (puck), not the collision, when it happened inside the Tri Cities zone. After watching it on video replay though, this is what I saw. 1) Dube comes at a high rate of speed towards Coghlan, the puck carrier. 2) Dube doesn't take a stride before making contact, but sticks out his knee and clips Coghlan, who attempts to avoid the collision. 3) It is clearly a penalty. 4) Coghlan goes down and is lying on the ice for over a minute grimacing in pain and is only able to get to the bench with the help of teammates. Coghlan appears to be favoring his left leg and puts no pressure on it as he makes his way off the ice. 5) The injury looks serious. My first thought is Coghlan may be done for the series. 6) The officials gather, with Coghlan still on the ice, essentially not moving. They hand Dube a 5 minute major penalty for kneeing.
  • Let's dig deeper here. I don't see anything good coming from a hit like that. It is going to go one of two ways. Dube is going to blow up Coghlan with a massive open ice hit that will likely be regarded as a charge if he hits him squarely. If he gets a piece of Coghlan, like he did with his leg, it results in a kneeing penalty. Either way, the chances of body contact of any kind on Coghlan in open ice will likely result in a penalty. There is too much separation between the two when they finally come together in the collision. If I'm Dube, I play it smart. Ejected in game one for a suspect charging major, it is best to be physical but don't attempt high risk body contact in open ice at high rates of speed. Lesson learned in game one. It also isn't the wisest decision when the score is 2-1 and only 9 minutes has elapsed from the score-clock. Often times a lack of judgment and frustration go hand-in-hand when the score is out of reach and one team is trying to take physical liberties late in the game. In this case, the infraction came early in game three and the visiting team was in a good position at that point. It wasn't a smart hockey play by a highly intelligent player.
  • On the flip side, what I didn't like about Coghlan's part in the incident was his embellishment on the ice. He clearly wasn't as hurt as he was letting on. After making his way to the bench, he never left and came onto the ice for the second period and looked no worse for wear. But when he is laying face first on the ice and doing his best acting job, the officials have no other choice but to eject Dube from the game. Maybe he is a quick healer? Whether it be Victoria's propensity for diving or this situation, I hate embellishment of any kind. It makes a mockery of the game. Again it was kneeing without question. I just didn't like the overacting.   
  • Is the hit suspendable? If Coughlin is lost long term, than yes. But the fact that Coghlan returned for the second period, essentially unscathed, erases any doubt in my mind that Dube should be in the line-up for game four. Again, Dube deserved a penalty. No debate there. Coghlan's acting job precipitated an ejection from the game. How can the referee's not make that call with Coghlan on the ice looking as if his season is over? Ok, enough of that debate, which is never winnable.
  • I thought it was a rough night for the officiating staff. A missed too many men on the ice call had Morgan Geekie scoring the game winner moments later to make it 4-2. Also, if you watch the Americans 5th goal, Geekie's third period power play goal, Rockets d-man James Hilsendager has his stick whacked out of hands before the goal is scored. Is that not interference? Those are two infractions that resulted in goals.
  • The Rockets penalty killing unit, which has taken a licking in this series was remotely better in game three. While surrendering two power ply goals, the unit was able to kill off the 5 minute major penalty to Dube which could have put the game on ice had the Americans struck a couple of times with the extra man. The Rockets PK has surrendered 7 power play goals in three games. Yikes.
  • I thought Cal Foote's compete late in the game when it was a 5-2 score was impressive. Who fights to the bitter end? Who blocks shots? Who gives up when the score is out of reach? The guy wear #25 doesn't.
  • Having been able to watch Jake Bean over a series of games, I sure like his calm demeanor on the blue-line. His soft hands and ability to escape on-coming fore-checkers is at an elite level.
  • A tough crowd in game three. Tough from the standpoint that the bodies in the stands, while loud and proud, was very small. It is shame that the Americans feature three players that are first round NHL draft picks but the casual fan doesn't really take notice or appreciate it.
  • Facing playoff elimination, the Rockets will have to pull out all the stops tonight in order to force a game five Saturday at Prospera Place. If the Americans win tonight, they will advance to the second round for the first time in 5 seasons.  

3 comments:

LetsGoAms said...

RB,

Appreciate and like your calls. I agree there was a bit of acting on 10's part it seems. No one knows for sure but that bench. It does seem hard to believe he heals that rapidly. However, another way to look at it, is if Dube wants to play high speed chicken 2 different times this series, do you have to wait until he does injury someone for the year to suspend him? Dea and Coghlan both were lucky not to be injured severely. He is a clean player and dynamic at that, but for whatever reason he is playing too far over the edge at this point I am not sure if he deserves to play tonight. If he did not learn a lesson the first time why give him 3 chances? None the less always enjoy your blog, posts and twitter. Travel safe and not too far over the speed limit. State patrolman are always thick on the Fridays. :-)

Jeff Mayer said...

Coming from an organization that gets every call, this is laughable. It's finally gone against you and now he embellished? Did Bruce tell you what to write?

Regan Bartel said...

Jeff, Bruce detests this blog more than you do. Trust me.