The Sea-to-Sky Boner Report: Nov 3rd 2013

That's Offside!
November 04 2013 02:08PM

Brett Kulak with an armful of teddy bears at last year's teddy bear toss. This year he leads the Giants in scoring.

We're at the quarter poll of the WHL season, so now's a good time to take a look at how the Giants have stacked up against their B.C. Division rivals. Although the results haven't always been there, they're just two points back of 8th place Prince George for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a game in hand, and statistically, they compare very favourably to the teams they're locked in a playoff race with.

Read past the jump for more.

We'll start with the B.C. Division standings:

Despite only playing 15 games, the Kelowna Rockets look like they're going to run away with the B.C. Division, and potentially challenge Portland, Spokane and Everett for top spot in the West. They're in no real danger of being caught by any other teams in the B.C. Division, so they're pretty much locked into one of the top-2 spots in the conference. They're also the only team in the division with a positive goal differential.

Fortunately for the Giants, the rest of their competition in the division is a bit of a tire fire. Prince George, Vanouver and Kamloops occupy the bottom three spots in the West, and Victoria isn't much better at 5th worst. It's a good thing that you only have to be better than two teams in the WHL's West to make the playoffs, and catching the Prince George Cougars will vault the Giants into the final playoff spot. To try and see how likely this is to happen, here's a look at some more detailed stats:

While having 5-on-5 score tied Corsi and all that fun stuff that ExtraSkater.com can show you would be nice here, the WHL unfortunately doesn't keep detailed enough statistics to be able to derive the underlying numbers we all know and love. In lieu of that, Shots For% can be used as a resonable substitute, as long as we're mindful of the noise we're not accounting for from stuff like special teams, score effects and coaching systems too.

Having said all that, the Giants seem like a solid puck possession team, at least as good as the 6th place Victoria Royals. Their major achillies heel is the goaltending. Payton Lee has not progressed this season and has struggled mightily, as he still sits last among qualified WHL goalies with an 0.869 save percentage. Unless he stop pucks at a rate closer to 0.890-0.900 for the rest of the year, Vancouver simply will not be able to outpossess or outscore their deficiencies in goal, and risk wasting a solid veteran core of 19 and 20 year olds Brett Kulak, Cain Franson and Dalton Thrower.

For what it's worth, Kulak and Thrower are 1st and 3rd in scoring among B.C. Division defensemen. Here's a list of the top-25 scorers in the B.C. Division for your viewing pleasure:

The complete list of WHL leading scorers can be seen here.

Vancouver gets a rare visit from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday before a key matchup against the Prince George Cougars next Saturday.

Around the B.C. Division

Kamloops Blazers: Had a 1-1-0-1 record this week with a pair of losses to Vancouver but a surprise win over the high flying Spokane Chiefs.

Kelowna Rockets: Named D Madison Bowey team captain...G Jordon Cooke won both CHL goalie of the week and WHL goalie of the month honours. Cooke is 9-0-0-1 on the season, and is 1st in the WHL with a 0.929 save percentage...Posted a 3-0-0-0 record this week with a win over Victoria and two over Prince George.

Prince George Cougars: Lost all 5 games this past week, but picked up 3 points from overtime and shootout losses...F Chase Witala currently leads the B.C. Division in scoring, but saw his 6 game goal scoring streak come to an end this week. This tied Victoria's Logan Nelson for the longest streak in the WHL this season.

Vancouver Giants: Traded D Reid Zalitach to Moose Jaw for a 4th round pick in 2015 and a 3rd round pick in 2016. The trade leaves Vancouver with 8 defensemen on the roster...Had a 4-1-0-0 record this week, with two wins over 8th place Prince George. Are now just two points back of the final playoff spot with a game in hand...Top prospect Tyler Benson will make his WHL debut November 16th at the Pacific Coliseum against the Tri-City Americans.

Victoria Royals: Forwards Steven Hodges and Brandon Magee returned from injuries. Hodges played his first two games of the season, registering two assists...Split a Friday/Saturday back-to-back with the Red Deer Rebels, despite outshooting the Rebels 78-46...Mascot Marty the Marmot was attacked during a promotion in the 2nd intermission of Saturday's game by an angry fan. The marmot was fine, but he totally had it coming.

Other News and Notes:

  • Spokane F Mitch Holmberg saw his 17 game point streak come to an end in a 3-1 loss against the powerhouse Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. He had 18 goals and 24 assists during this streak. At 12 games, Portland's Oliver Bjorkstrand now has the longest active point streak in the WHL.
  • Holmberg was also named WHL player of the month.
  • Everett F Dawson Leedahl (checking from behind), Regina F Dyson Stevenson and G Mac Engel (actions during a 3rd period brawl), and Seattle D Evan Wardley (charging) await supplementary discipline from the WHL for incidents over the weekend.
  • Canucks prospect D Anton Cederholm returned from injury this week. F Hunter Shinkaruk is day-to-day with a lower body injury, but should return soon.
  • The latest WHL plays of the week are here. Go watch them.
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Rhys Jessop - CanucksArmy's resident CHL buff/hater of prospects, depending on who you ask. Follow my ramblings on Twitter: @Thats_Offside. Email contact: thats.offside.hockey@gmail.com
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