It is safe to say the Vancouver Giants would like to forget about Game One of their series against Kamloops. Vancouver fell 8-0 to their divisional rivals and finished with just 15 shots on goal. With a turnaround of fewer than 24 hours, here are three things the Giants must to do better if they want to even the series at one.
Special Teams Must Be Better
Coming into the series, one of the main talking points was whether or not the Giants could contain Kamloops’ power play. In Game One, that was not the case, as the Blazers finished three for eight with the man advantage. The other issue is when Vancouver gives Kamloops eight power play attempts, it limits the amount of time they can try and produce offence. Not only do the Giants need to be better on the penalty kill, but they also need to be more disciplined otherwise, it could be another long night in Kamloops.
On the flip side, the Giants only drew one power play in Game One but were unable to capitalize with the man advantage. This ties into Vancouver’s inability to possess the puck for long periods of time during the game and their inability to generate offence consistently. While their power play did struggle throughout the season, it is crucial they find a way to get on the power play, as it could help them build some momentum and create scoring chances in hopes of solving Dylan Ernst.
Shots, Shots And More Shots
In Game One, the Giants were outshot 53 to 15, which included being outshot 17 to three in the first period. The fact Kamloops had more shots in the first than Vancouver had the entire game can not be repeated in Game Two; otherwise, the series is as good as done. The Giants need to get the puck and bodies to the net whenever possible in order to avoid another difficult night on the scoresheet.
The most surprising part of Game One was that Samuel Honzek, Mazden Leslie and Skyler Bruce all finished with zero shots on goal. These are three of Vancouver’s best offensive players, so they need to step up their games going into Game Two. These three getting on the scoresheet will be crucial if the Giants are going to even out the series Saturday Night.
Who Starts In Goal?
Both Jesper Vikman and Brett Mirwald played in Game One. Vikman finished the night with seven goals allowed on 22 shots, while Mirwald allowed just one on 31 shots against. There are arguments to be made for both goaltenders, but in the end, Vikman may still be the best option for Game Two.
The reason for Vikman starting in Game Two is simple, he generally bounces back after tough starts. Last year in the playoffs, he followed up a first-round Game Four performance where he allowed six goals on 24 shots with a 50-save shutout, and earlier this season, after allowing six goals on 44 shots to Kamloops, he shutout Everett just a few days later making 32 saves for his only shutout this season. While he had a tough Game One, he is still one of the best goalies across the WHL and deserves the start and some run support in Game Two.
Back At It Saturday Night
While every game in the playoffs is must-win, a loss in Game Two could signal the end of the road for the Giants. Last season, only one team was able to come back from a 2-0 series hole, with that being the Seattle Thunderbirds in the second round versus the Portland Winterhawks. The two teams will once again do battle Saturday Night in Kamloops before the series moves to Vancouver for Games Three and Four.