A bounce-back night for the Vees in many ways. A new look line had a monster night. The power-play was humming along again. Another big number put on the scoreboard. Wins a win?
1. A Reunion: After what could be labelled as a lack-luster offensive performance on Friday, Fred Harbinson tweaked his line-up ahead of Saturday’s game and it paid off. Jedd Soleway was put back on a line with Wade Murphy and Louie Nanne and Sam Mellor played between Brad McClure and John Siemer.
The move paid immediate dividends for the Vees, as Nanne, Soleway and Murphy combined for three goals and eight points in the first period alone. The three would end the game with six goals and 14 points combined. Soleway is like a bull in a china shop, as he creates plenty of room for Murphy and Nanne. Soleway’s size and presence draws defenders towards him and that means there is going to be open areas. We saw that on Saturday as Murphy and Nanne found open ice and took full advantage. Murphy was more of a facilitator but Nanne finally was getting that heavy shot off of his, and when he does that the Vees are in good shape.
The three were originally put together when the Vees acquired Soleway in a trade with the Vernon Vipers in early December. The chemistry is second to none, just look at the three first period goals they were a part of. I think we will see more of this line next weekend and in the final nine games of the regular season.
2. Crease Crash’ers: I was clear and critical in my thoughts of the Vees efforts in the offensive zone last night. Well, it was a 180 on Saturday as the Vees were much more determined when inside the oppositions blue-line. The Vees incorporated a more north-south approach when attacking the goal and it paid off.
Last night there was too much east-west movement from the Vees when rushing the puck and it resulted in a lot of disjointed play. Tonight they simplified their approach, cranked up the speed and got bodies to the crease. In the first period, Nanne scored both of his goals going to the net. Oh, Jedd Soleway scored when he crashed the crease as well. Out of their four first period goals, three were a direct result of going hard to the net. I would say four of the eight goals came from crashing the crease or driving hard to the net.
This is what the Vees have to keep doing heading into the stretch drive of their schedule. Scoring has been tough this year league-wide and will only get tougher as we get closer to the playoffs. Every game at this point means so much in playoff positioning and teams will be not holding back. This is where teams elevate their game and that means it gets harder to score goals. If the Vees are going to have any success in the post-season they’re going to have to pay the price. They showed tonight they are willing to do so.
3. Slump Busters: I believe if you look up “streaky” in the dictionary, if that is even a word, but if you look it up, I bet you see Wade Murphy and Louie Nanne and I do mean that in a good way. They, like most high-end players, score in bunches and get into streaks out of nowhere. Before his four goals tonight, Nanne was goal-less in his previous 13 games and had only one point in his last seven contests. Tonight he bags four and could have had more. This was Nanne’s third hat-trick this season, yes, the kids has three of theses things! Wade Murphy was in a bit of a dry spell in December and the better half of January. Well he now has 12 points in 2 games; shutout loss Friday remember. That’s 12 points, seven last Saturday and another five tonight. Don’t look now but Murphy is fourth in league scoring with 62 points and hopefully this is a springboard for the playoffs.