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- Today’s preview is brought to you by the letter “O.” The Vees offense or lack there of has been under the microscope in the last three weeks. In their last six games the Vees have scored just 14 goals.
- They’ve been held to three goals or less in six straight games and two or less goals in four straight games. Don’t know if the early season scoring troubles had similar numbers but lately it seems like the Vees have hit their driest of patches.
- I said today’s all about the offense, because their defense has been superb. The Vees have kept their opponents to two or less goals in six straight games. They’ve only coughed up 10 goals in their last six, for an average of just 1.6 goals-against per-game.
- I’m not saying this team needs to score four-five goals a game to be successful, rather they need to score just one more goal on average to improve their numbers. The Vees are 3-8-1-3 when they’re held to two goals or less this season. When they score three or more goals, they’re 24-3-0-0.
- THEY’RE 24-3-0-0 WHEN THEY SCORE THREE OR MORE GOALS.
- Now four straight games they’ve coughed up the opening goal. Granted they’re 2-2 during that stretch but playing catch up hockey is a grind and wears you down that much more. The games are hard enough this month and at this time of year, the Vees don’t have to go and make things harder for themselves.
- When they score first, the Vees are 18-4-1-2. When they don’t they’re 9-7-1-1. A very respectable record no doubt but I like 18 wins more than 9.
- The Vees also have to at worse tread water going into the third period. They’re a combined 26-3-1-2 when they’re ahead or tied going into the third period. When they trail after forty-minutes, they’re 1-8-1-1. Remember what I said about playing catch up hockey? Not saying this team can’t play from behind but again, it’s that much more challenging to do so, especially in this Division.
- Shot volume hasn’t been an issue during this dry spell, as the Vees are averaging 34.5 shots per game in their last four. Maybe its shot quality?I talked to Vees Captain Brad McClure, which you’ll hear in the second intermission, and he says they need to find a way to put more quality shots on the opposition. He suggests the shots they’re sending to the net aren’t coming enough from the scoring areas. As he put it, “Time to get to the dirty areas.”
- They have put on 60 shots in the last two games but only have two goals to show for it. Again, the defense has been excellent, as they’ve held the opposition to single-digit shots in the last five periods going back to Wednesday.
- The Vees have been very good in the second game of back-to-backs. When they play on back-to-back nights, the Vees are 9-3-1-2 in the second game. What tired legs? They’ve outscored the opposition 58-34 in those 15 games; that’s a plus 24. In those 15 games they’ve score five or more goals six times.
- The secondary scoring needs to get going. Cam Amantea is pointless in eight games, Cody DePourcq has just one goal in his last 14 games and Travis Blanleil in goalless in his last 10. These three are excellent defensive forwards but time to time, they need to help out in the scoring department. All three are veterans, they know they’ve been struggling and they know they need to find a way to contribute.
- It’s not just those three, just three that I’ve highlighted. Nic Pierog for example has been playing well but hasn’t been scoring. Just one goal since he came over from Surrey and just two points in five games as a Vee so far. Pierog’s line-mate Ben Dalpe has been quiet of late, as he’s pointless in two games; so too is Steen Cooper.
- Vees welcome back Chris Rygus to the blue-line. The rugged rear-guard has served his two-game suspension and will be paired up with his regular defensive partner in Patrick Sexton.
- Score more goals. That’s it.
- With their loss last night to Alberni Valley and the Cents’ win over the Vees, the ‘Backs now find themselves two points out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Division.
- The ‘Backs have lost four in a row, including being swept on their three-game Island Division road trip last weekend*. They had a handful of players out with illness
- When you look at their recent struggles, you can look at their road results of late. Salmon Arm has lost their last five road games, and haven’t won away from the Shaw Centre since December 10th. To find their last road win against a time not named Trail, you have to go back to November 12th, when they beat the West Kelowna Warriors 5-3.
- Eight of their final 15 games will be on the road, so they will need to find a way to start picking up points if they want to keep pace with Merritt.
- In their last 10 road games, the ‘Backs are 2-6-0-2.
- If you’re trying to dissect their issues, just look at their third periods in the last five games. The ‘Backs have been outscored 7-1 in the last five third periods they’ve played. They’ve been outscored 7-2 in third periods in their last five road games.
- They have had the same issue as the Vees of late, and that’s playing from behind too much. The ‘Backs have surrendered the opening goal in four of their last five games, and lost four of those five. Taking it one step further, they’ve led just once going into the third period in their last five games.