There are legitimate reasons for concern in life. Thus far in life I have been exceptionally fortunate with health, and all the other things that sports ultimately take a backseat to. Currently my biggest concerns are the state of my fantasy football team, the ongoing developments in the NHL lockout, and what I’m having for lunch – in no particular order.
One thing that neither you nor I should be worried about though, is the 0-3 start to the season for the Vancouver Giants. At least not quite just yet. Despite what their record indicates, they have given us reasons to be optimistic about the future.
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In sports, the process with which you aim to reach your destination is more important than the individual results along the way. The perfect example were the Minnesota Wild last season, who jumped out to a 20-7-3 record before inevitably flaming out (as everyone and their grandma had predicted based on the underlying numbers).
Can you get away with poor trends for a full season, leading to countless stories about how you’re a team of destiny? Sure, we’ve seen it happen in the past. But more times than not, the law of averages catch up to you. There’s no fooling the system when the system is 82 games (or in this particular case, 72 games for the WHL).
Which brings me back to the Vancouver Giants, who – despite falling 5-3 to the Everett Silvertips on Friday night – did a number of things that I see translating into future success for them.
The Giants were clearly the aggressor, playing a much more physical brand of hockey than their opposition. What really stood out was the concerted effort they seemed to be making to take the puck to the net with purpose, early and often. They outshot the Silvertips to the tune of 37-21 (bringing their lead in that department to 92-62 on the season), which makes sense considering most of the night was spent in that zone.
"It’s just the way we play," said head coach Don Hay. "We want to get as many pucks around the net, and try to make something happen off of rebounds."
Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to faze goaltender Austin Lotz in the slightest, who was unquestionably the best player on the ice. You simply have to give credit where credit is due. On this night, it wasn’t a fruitful strategy, but there will be many a night when it is.
What was essentially the Giants’ undoing was their sloppy play to begin every period, particularly in their own zone. Everett jumped out to an early lead just 2:08 into the game, which makes for the third consecutive game in which the Giants have fallen behind first. It was very clear that the Hay wasn’t all that enthused by it all.
"We always had to chase the game, and getting behind early – it doesn’t help you have success. We need to manage the puck better. We turned the puck over on all the goals. We have to be stronger on the puck, make better plays with the puck."
I’m willing to chalk up the slow starts to the fact that the season is still incredibly young, which is resulting in a lack of rhythm for the Giants. It’s taking them a while to get the wheels turning the way they’d like, which happens. They were the superior team in the final 15 minutes of every period, and wound up running into a goaltender who was up to the task. Sure, you would like to see them solve the issues that they have had coming out of the gate, and shore up some of the miscues that plagued them in their own zone.
But if they continue to play with the drive, and aggression, that they displayed in this game, their fortunes will turn around sooner rather than later.
I wouldn’t be hitting the panic button just yet. These Giants will be fine.