PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants vs. Spokane Chiefs (Game #48)
Tonight in Langley, the Vancouver Giants continue their season-long eight game home stand when they battle the Spokane Chiefs for the first time in 2017-18. So far during this stretch the Giants are 1-1-0-1 and are coming off a hard-luck 2-0 loss Saturday against Portland. Despite dropping their past two games the Giants remain firmly in control of their playoff destiny, and with a victory tonight would sit alone in second place in the B.C. Division. At the other side the Chiefs have won three straight and have won each of their last nine games against the Giants dating back to 2012.
Head Coach: Dan Lambert
Road Record: 9-10-1-0
Last Game: A 4-2 home victory last night against Swift Current
Last 10: 5-5
Goals For/Goals Against: 180/163 (+17)
Power Play: 19.0% (18th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 78.7% (9th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Hudson Elynuik (47GP – 22G – 39A – 61PTS), Jaret Anderson-Dolan (45GP – 24G – 30A – 54PTS), Ty Smith (46GP – 6G – 38A – 44PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Hudson Elynuik: The 20-year-old prospect of the Carolina Hurricanes leads all Chiefs in scoring with 61 points in 47 games. Six of his 22 goals have been game winners and his 39 assists are tops on the team. In two games against Vancouver last season he had four goals and two assists for six points.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan: The 18-year-old prospect of the LA Kings leads the Chiefs in goals with 24 and sits second in team scoring behind Elynuik.He had 39 goals a season ago and when all is said and done this season he should be able to surpass last season’s 76 point mark. He comes into tonight riding a modest three-game point streak.
WHO’S ON D:
Nolan Reid: With Ty Smith gone at the CHL/NHL Top Prospect’s Game the offense from the back-end will channel through 19-year-old Nolan Reid. Coming into tonight he sits first among Chiefs defenders with 11 goals and second in points with 26. Statistically he’s gone a bit cold though having not produced a single point in each of his past eight games.
Tyson Helgesen: The 20-year-old captain for Spokane does a little bit of everything. In 47 games he’s scored six goals to go along with 17 assists for 23 points. His 79 penalty minutes are third on the team and his +8 rating is no slouch either. He’ll log big minutes tonight in all situations for Spokane.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
Donovan Buskey?: Dawson Weatherill earned the win last night for Spokane and given the tough travel it could bode well for the 2000-born Donovan Buskey who hails from Vancouver to get the start. Buskey is 8-8 this season with a shutout, a 3.65 goals-against-average and an .868 save percentage.
Kailer Yamamoto: The 22nd overall pick from the 2017 NHL Draft is red hot. The Edmonton Oilers prospect comes into tonight riding a seven-game point streak and since returning from the World Juniors has posted four goals and eight assists for 12 points in a span of five games.
Head Coach: Jason McKee
Home Record: 13-8-1-1
Last Game: A 2-0 loss to Portland last Saturday at home
Last 10: 6-1-2-1
Goals For/Goals Against: 167/166 (+1)
Power Play: 22.5% (10th in WHL)
Penalty Kill: 77.5% (12th in WHL)
Leading Scorers: Ty Ronning (47GP – 42G – 17A – 59PTS), James Malm (47GP – 17G – 31 – 48PTS), Tyler Benson (34G – 17G – 26A – 43PTS)
WHO’S UP FRONT:
Ty Ronning: The 20-year-old prospect of the New York Rangers remains second in the WHL goal-scoring race with 42 goals through 47 games. Over his past seven games played he’s registered eight goals and 1 assist. He sits seven goals shy of a new franchise record and eight shy of becoming the first Giant to ever reach 50.
Davis Koch: The 19-year-old will play his fourth game as a Giant tonight. Through his first three games he’s managed an assist and is EVEN in plus-minus. The talented forward has had his chances in recent games and hopefully this week he’ll breakout.
WHO’S ON D:
Dylan Plouffe: The 18-year-old leads all Giants defencemen in scoring with eight goals and 26 assists for 34 points. Earlier this week he cracked NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings list at #208. All Plouffe needs to do is keep doing exactly what he’s been doing, because he’s been a big-time contributor to the Giants success in all areas of the ice.
Alex Kannok Leipert: Rookie defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert also cracked NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm rankings list earlier this week coming in at #190. He’s appeared in all but one game for Vancouver in 2017-18 and has two goals to go along with his 15 assists and his +5 rating.
WHO’S IN GOAL:
David Tendeck: All signs point to David Tendeck getting his sixth straight start for the Giants tonight. Tendeck was strong albeit in defeat Saturday as he turned aside 25 of the 26 shots fired his way by Portland. That loss was just his second in regulation since December 1st. For the season he’s 17-8-1-2 with a 2.86 goals-against-average and a .912 save percentage and two shutouts.
Dictate the Pace of Play: Once again the Giants will be hosting a team that’s had some unfavorable travel to deal with. Having played a home game last night at home, the Chiefs then had to embark on a 6.5-hour journey to get here for tonight’s game. Fatigue may or may not play a part in tonight’s result, but the Giants could do themselves a world of good by dictating the pace of play early. That means controlling the physicality, the speed and the tempo of the game. If the Giants can keep the Chiefs on their heels and force them to react to what they’re doing attack-wise, that’s going to help the Giants claw back into the win column tonight at home.