Moose Jaw-Calgary series notebook

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Game 2 post-game

Some post-Game 2 thoughts.

The Warriors haven’t done nearly as much line matching as I had anticipated before the series began. Granted it’s a lot harder on the road, but Moose Jaw seemed pleased with what they were getting most of the time.

The Paradis-Smuk-Edwards line is seeing a fair bit of Broda and Kozun, but so too is Jason Bast’s line. The line has two of the three Hitmen goals so you can’t say they’ve been shut out, but have they been held decently in check.

In the second period of Game 2, Calgary coach Mike Williamson split up Broda and Kozun. Williamson started with Fisenko-Broda-Kozun and Bubnick-Fiddler-Shattock and switched to Bubnick-Broda-Shattock and Fisenko-Kozun-Fiddler.

Fiddler has some great chances that he failed to convert as Kozun and defeceman Giffen Nyren created off the rush.

After praising Fisenko as being more dynamic and physical than I had seen him in Game 1, he struggled in Game 2.

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Nyren had an excellent game and was one of a few Hitmen who seemed to elevate their play. So did Kris Foucault who scored the goal and was buzzing around Jeff Bosch’s goal. Unsurprisingly they each had six shots to lead the Hitmen.

Bosch’s best save probably came in the third when he out-waited Foucault as he skated across the face of the crease. Not only was Bosch able to stay with the move and make a pad save, he quickly covered the rebound with another Calgary player on the doorstep.

Jason Bast led the Warriors with 11 shots.

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Something to keep an eye on in Game 3 is how often Jeff Bosch covers the puck. In the first two games — and especially early in Game 2 — he covered everything near him. The Warriors were winning their share of the draws and it was helping disrupt the flow of the game.

Hunchak praised him for his sense of reading the game and keeping pucks moving at a good times and covering them when they needed it too.

Bosch’s puck handing has been excellent so far as well. He came out past  the face off circle and cleared a puck before the Hitmen forward could get there. He’s not typically that adventurous, but it was a good assertive decision and he made the play cleanly. The confidence he’s playing is showing.

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Was it really a week ago there were worries about Bosch’s health? And what happened to the Warriors’ team with a dismal road record? Their 11-20-2-3 2 was the worst record amongst playoff teams.

Hunchak likes to talk about how the playoffs are an entirely new season. It certainly feels true at this early stage.

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The Hitmen have a tradition of playing “Let’s Go Band!” and on the organ in the first period and the entire crowd replies “Kootenay sucks!” no matter who is in the building. It apparently dates back to the 2000 Eastern Conference finals when the Ice ousted the Hitmen.

After Game 2 I heard someone suggested it may get changed to Moose Jaw sucks depending how the series pans out.

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The crowd reactions after the Moose Jaw goals were interesting. The three in succession at the end of the first period went from mild annoyance to dismay to flat out shock. You rarely hear 10,000 people gasp like they did after Hood’s third and especially Bast’s second to make it 4-0. Bast’s goal eight seconds in just seemed to come out of nowhere and the crowd was barely in their seats when the Warriors’ captain looked to have iced it.

Right after Bast’s goal (and before Calgary pulled their goal back on the same four-on-four) the Warriors sent a dump in at Calgary goalie Martin Jones and he got a sarcastic cheer from the crowd when he stopped the puck.

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The aforementioned four-on-four came about when Calgary’s Ian Schultz and Moose Jaw’s Spencer Edwards went off for roughing. Edwards was jawing with a Calgary winger on the draw and when the Hitmen centre was kicked out Schultz came all the way from the left wing to get beside Edwards.

Schultz nearly has his head on Edwards’ shoulder as he leaned in and started to talk to him. The two started to jostle, but Edwards wasn’t going to take the bait. As they were heading to the penalty box, Schultz earned a 10-minute misconduct as put his fists to his eyes and mimed crying at Edwards.

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After having a power play that looked out of sorts for stretches, but still went 3-for-6 in Game 1, the Warriors power play was simply just not very good at all in Game 2. Calgary is a tough team to gain the zone against, but the Warriors’ breakout wasn’t very sharp and unlike Thursday even when they gained the zone they gave the puck away cheaply.

Their four second period power plays did effectively kill Calgary’s momentum and allow the Warriors to keep playing a simple game.

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Calgary was frustrated by the penalties again to some extent, but part of that comes down to Moose Jaw’s discipline. With no power plays in the first period (and a well officiated period), the first thing approaching a penalty in was called. Both teams were so conscious of not taking penalties that it was a fairly clean game (which isn’t to say there wasn’t an edge — there was lots of talk and after the whistle scrums, just not many lazy stick infractions), but the Warriors were able to stay within the tight standard being called.

That being said the last two penalties called on Calgary looked pretty dubious, especially the roughing call on Joel Broda that put them two men down for 41 seconds.

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The Hitmen have pulled Jones very early in both games. They pulled him in Game 2 while still short-handed and with about 80 seconds left. Trailing by only two goals in Game 1 they pulled Jones with 1:46 left while on a power play to go up two men.

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Calgary’s Cody Beach made his series debut and got into a lively fight with Riley Reinbolt. The six-foot-five Beach is only 17, but had a whopping 18 fighting majors. Despite the size difference Reinbolt landed some good blows, though I think Beach earned the decision.

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Not only did Nathan MacMaster spend time on the Bast line, but he also saw some shifts with the Honejsek-Rowinski-Hood line. In fact he and Hood were back-checking on the Hitmen defenceman (I think it was Ben Wilson. If it wasn’t him, it was Nyren) who coughed the puck up in the high slot. Hood quickly corralled the loose puck spun and fired a shot off the post and in past Jones.

The Warriors forwards were just swarming on the Hitmen defencemen to end the first period.

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The Warriors did use Clinton Atkinson as a forward. Atkinson has speed and isn’t afraid to use the body. He and Reinbolt saw more ice than the 11-12 forwards did in Game 1 (Reinbolt and Jakub Herman) but they were far from getting a regular shift.

Similarly Calgary used their fourth line a lot more in Game 2.

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You sometimes notice the strangest things wandering around an NHL arena. Both teams enter the ice at the Saddledome from the benches. The entrance is covered by a tunnel that is pretty standard in most rinks. The one in Calgary is phenomenally low. I would saw the clearance is about six feet, six inches. On skates half of the players have to duck to get through. To solve the problem on the Flames/Hitmen side the tunnel is actually elevated by being on top of a some milk crates.

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