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Old 11-16-2019, 02:01 AM   #48
Red John
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Originally Posted by Roof-Daddy View Post

Around the league Kelowna is getting worked tonight by Spokane. They do not look like a legit Memorial Cup contender so far this year. Barely above .500 and 7 of their 9 wins have come against 500 or lower teams. Going to be interesting to see if they can turn it around and not have to back into the memorial cup as a super weak host team.
The Rockets actually had a nice start to the season and looked pretty decent but the wheels have fallen off recently and it hasn't been one thing.

-Lack of true top-six centres is now an issue as an already-thin group lost overager Kyle Topping to injury and had to replace him with a 20 who was playing junior A

-Rookie of the year candidate (and great 2020 draft prospect) Pavel Novak just got an 8-game suspension for a nasty hit and will sit for a bit now

-Going through a stretch of poor defensive play right now. Carson Sass isn't a good enough 20 in this league and none of the blueline has taken a step forward as one would have anticipated this year. Kaedan Korczak is a fine shut-down player but hasn't developed offensively as hoped and isn't physical. Sean Comrie has been a huge disappointment since coming over from NCAA - he's still adjusting to the WHL game so perhaps there's more there but early returns aren't good. Jake Lee has bite to his game but doesn't move the puck that great. Elias Carmichael is 16. And Devin Steffler and Cayde Augustine just aren't that good at hockey - none of them have any traits that they do exceptionally well. Part of good defensive hockey though is desire and compete level and this is lacking big-time and it shows on the penalty kill as well

-The aforementioned issues with the D is that none are truly elite gamebreakers and struggle to move the puck up to the forwards. It's resulted in a very pedestrian 5v5 systems play that pretty much relies on the powerplay to score goals. Thank goodness the PP looks good

-Adam Foote isn't a very good coach. He has the team playing a very conservative style and they don't have the puck much. They give up the blueline easily and chip pucks out rather than make good outlet passes. It's almost like he's trying to recreate the 2004 Rockets team that won the Memorial Cup without a player scoring more than 48 points all season. But he doesn't have the same kind of players to achieve that

-Tensions between him and Bruce are pretty high right now. He thinks he doesn't have the personnel to play a more skilled game (partly true) and Bruce thinks Foote isn't maximizing the players he has (also true). The players don't seem to be playing with any heart and tend to fold up shop quickly on nights where it's not going their way. They don't elevate their game against division rivals and in big situations. Foote looks out of ideas

To summarize, there's a lot of uncertainty. Bruce's plan was to evaluate the first 20 games before making any moves, so in a way it's good that the adversity came early so nobody's in denial about what this team is. They need one if not two 20-year old upgrades. They need a top-line centre who can distribute the puck. They need an elite puck-moving defenseman who can lead and play in all situations. That's at minimum. Problem is there's very few teams who are out of the playoff race and willing to sell at this point, and some of the teams who were thought to be potential sellers have started hot so there's not many upgrade options just yet. They've already dealt the 2022 1st so perhaps need to convince some of their top prospects to waive the NTC (which isn't likely) to facilitate deals.

This team looks to be much better in 2021 and probably will have another golden generation in 2022-24 with the amazing crop of 16s and 15s they've drafted so you don't want to jeopardize that either by chasing it this year at all costs. Looks like they just are on a bit of a rare down cycle last year and this one, and picked a bad time to host the tournament. It happens.

Tonight's game is pretty much a must-win or heads will begin to roll.
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