Column: Chiefs make playoff jitters disappear

As Jacob Bestebroer notes, a roster of BCHL playoff newbies made the butterflies go away in a hurry with two one-sided wins.

After two wins on home ice the Chiefs now hold a 2-0 series lead in their opening round best of seven series versus the Coquitlam Express.

Coquitlam’s game plan in this series was expected and obvious from the start of game one.

After giving up six goals and 56 shots to the Chiefs in the final game of the regular season, the Express went into full-on defense mode.

Their hope was that dropping all five skaters back and letting the Chiefs come to them would frustrate the Chiefs into mistakes and penalties.

They would then capitalize on those mistakes and power plays.

While the Chiefs did look tentative at times and they did have some problems creating offense, I chalk that up to having 13 players playing their first playoff game at this level. Only one player, defenceman Eric Roberts had played a playoff game at this level in a Chiefs uniform.

Opening night jitters were understandable.

The other thing we saw from the Express in game one was the decision to not dump and chase.

When the option of gaining the offensive zone by carrying the puck across the opposition blueline is not a viable option, teams will usually toss the puck into the other team’s zone and either use that time to make a line change or send in an aggressive forecheck to try and regain possession of the puck.

Coquitlam for the most part avoided this, instead lobbing the puck at Chiefs goaltender David Jacobson, forcing him to catch the puck for a faceoff in the Chiefs zone. Not a bad plan as they are a very good faceoff team.

Game two had a much different feel to it.

The Chiefs were much better in this game, much better making passes on breakouts and their speed advantage was very evident.

Despite being the better team and holding a deserved 2-0 series lead, this series is far from over. Teams aren’t in real trouble in a playoff series until they lose a game on home ice.

If you can’t make it out to those games, you can listen to the broadcasts by clicking on the broadcast link on the home page of the Chiefs website.

Should the series go more than four games, game five would be Monday in Chilliwack, game six would be Tuesday in Coquitlam and game seven would go the next night back in Chilliwack.

Three of the six first round playoff series are tied at one with only the Chiefs, Nanaimo Clippers and Vernon Vipers holding 2-0 series leads.

The biggest surprise so far is the Penticton West Kelowna series.

I picked that series to be the most likely to be a four game sweep as Penticton is the much better team and West Kelowna is missing some key guys due to injury.

Both games have gone to overtime with each team winning one game.

Congratulations to Chiefs head coach Jason Tatarnic who has been named the BCHL Coach of the Year.

Very deserved but he is the first to say that the award is a staff award and that credit should be shared with associate coach Kyle Adams and assistant coaches Paul Nicolls and Nathan Martz.

 

jb@chilliwackchiefs.net