PREVIEW: Vancouver Giants vs. Kamloops Blazers (Game #6 – Round 2)
After avoiding elimination with a 5-2 victory in Kamloops, the Vancouver Giants return home once again to host the Blazers with a chance to send this second round series to a Game 7. The Giants are down 3-2 in the series and looking for their second win against the Blazers on home ice after splitting Games 3 and 4 at the Langley Events Centre. A loss for the Giants means that their B.C rivals will advance to the third round of the playoffs. Puck drop this afternoon goes at 4:00PM.
Last game: A 5-2 loss to the Giants at home.
Goals For/Goals Against: 38GF/17GA (+21)
Power Play: 11/52 (21.1%)
Penalty Kill: 33/36 (89.9%)
Leading Scorers: Logan Stankoven (9-10-19), Luke Toporowski (7-7-14), Caedan Bankier (4-6-10)
After being all over the scoresheet in his team’s first round sweep of Spokane, Logan Stankoven has had varying degrees of success in Round 2. The Giants have stymied Stankoven’s production at times in this series, limiting him to only one assist in both Blazer losses. In three winning efforts, he has five points, including a clutch two-goal performance in the Blazers’ 4-2 win in Game 5.
Blazers goaltender Dylan Garand enters Game 6 with a 7-2 playoff record with a 1.68 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. That said, the New York Rangers prospect has allowed three goals in three of the last four games, after allowing that same amount in the entire first round. Garand has a 0.910 SV% through 5 games this series, which trails Giants goaltending counterpart Jesper Vikman even though the Blazers lead the series.
- The Blazers are looking to advance to the third round of the WHL Playoffs for the first since 2013.
- Luke Toporowski leads the WHL playoffs with 52 shots on goal. Logan Stankoven is third with 48.
- In the second period of the five games this series, the Blazers have outscored the Giants 8-2.
- In three road games this postseason, the Blazers have only been shorthanded seven times, and have surrendered two power play goals against (71.4%).
Last game: A 5-2 road win in Kamloops on Friday.
Goals For/Goals Against: 44GF/41GA (+3)
Power Play: 15/45 (33.3%)
Penalty Kill: 43/55 (78.2%)
Leading Scorers: Zack Ostapchuk (7-16-23), Fabian Lysell (4-17-21), Alex Cotton (6-10-16)
A ‘SEN’SATIONAL PLAYOFF
Zach Ostapchuk’s playoff run has been nothing short of spectacular. The Giants captain and Ottawa Senators draft pick has been at the forefront of the Giants’ offence this playoff and leads the WHL with 23 points in only 11 games. That point total puts him fourth in franchise history among Giants forwards for a single playoff run, and all three players above him were on teams that at least made to the third round of the playoffs or further. His 2.09 points-per-game trails only Logan Stankoven for tops in the league, but his four-point outing in Game 5 means he has outscored Stankoven by a single point in the series so far.
HOW ‘SWEDE’ IT IS
Where would this series and playoff run in general be without the Giants two Swedish stars, Jesper Vikman and Fabian Lysell? Vikman has continued his outstanding playoff run with a 0.927 SV% through five games, making no less than 34 saves in each of those appearances. He also leads the playoffs with 326 saves through 10 games. The next closest goalie has 233. With 21 points in 11 games, Lysell sits at 2nd in playoff scoring across the WHL behind only his teammate Zack Ostapchuk. He currently has 6 assists on a three-game point streak, setting a franchise record for most assists by a Giants forward during a single playoff run.
- Fabian Lysell’s 17 assists is a franchise record among Giants forwards in a single playoff run. He trails Bowen Byram’s 18 assists in 2019 for the most in club history.
- Zach Ostapchuk’s 23 points is more than any Giants forward was able to produce during their 2019 Championship run.
- Adam Hall leads the WHL playoffs with 10 goals.
- The Giants are 4-0 in the playoffs when they score first and 4-0 when leading after two periods.
- At 33.3%, the Giants’ power play is second in the WHL playoffs.
- That Game 5 road victory against the Blazers was only the second time the Giants had won at the Sandman Centre including the regular season.
Notes by: Kyle Dalla Zanna