e Chilliwack Chiefs launch into the postseason tonight (Friday), hosting the Langley Rivermen at Prospera Centre (7 p.m.).
After a long regular season spent focusing on 17 different foes, Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney gets to zero in on one.
The chess game begins as he tries to out-wit Langley bench boss Bobby Henderson.
“Now’s the time where you can fine-tune and look for weaknesses in your opponent,” Maloney said. “You’d think there’d be no secrets between us and Langley, but there are things you can tweak.
“We have an idea of how they play, but structurally we can always add a new faceoff play or show a different look on the penalty kill.
“So can they, so you have to be ready for those things.”
Maloney has to pump the brakes on his owning coaching instincts as the playoffs start.
His inner tactician wants to go nuts on the X’s and O’s and put the Rivermen under the microscope. But the former pro player knows there’s such a thing as over-coaching.
“I feel like some coaches do that at this time of year, and they tend to over-prepare and cause information overload with their players,” Maloney said. “It’s fun for a coach because it is a bit of a chess match, but our biggest job is making sure our team is focused.”
Of the 16 teams in the playoffs, Langley scored the fourth fewest goals in the regular season.
Ethan Leyh led the Rivermen with 42 points, a total matched or surpassed by five Chiefs.
Three Chilliwack players (Harrison Blaisdell, Kevin Wall, Matt Holmes) scored more goals than Langley leader Trevor Ayre’s 23.
Langley has an X-factor to account for in defenceman Jake Livingstone (56-10-28-38).
“There will be some matching of lines and defensive pairings for sure,” Maloney said. “But playoffs are funny. Top players usually cancel each other out, but it always seems to be the depth guys, or the guys everyone forgets about who make the difference.
“One line won’t win you a championship.”
— Game two of the best-of-seven first round series is at Chilliwack’s Prospera Centre Saturday night, with a 7 p.m. start.
The series will shift to Langley’s George Preston Arena for games three and four, with 7:15 p.m. starts for both.
Game five, if needed, would be back in Chilliwack March 7 and if the series goes the distance, game seven would be played at Prospera Centre March 10.