Game: Nanaimo Clippers vs Powell River Kings
Arena: Hap Parker Arena
Puck Drop: 7:00pm
Broadcast: Starts at 6:30pm
95.7 SunFM Free Audio
FastHockey PPV Video
Kings This Season vs Opposition: 6-1-0-1
Last Meeting: Kings won 2-1 (February 28th, 2014)
Kings 2013/2014 Record: 36-16-2-4 (2nd Island)
Kings at home: 22-6-1-0
Kings on the road: 14-10-1-4
Kings vs Island: 22-9-1-2
Clippers 2013/2014 Record: 27-28-1-2 (3rd Island)
Clippers at home: 14-14-0-1
Clippers on the road: 13-14-1-1
After 58 games it’s finally playoffs where every game, every shift, every shot and every save matters. The team comes into the post season on the back of a loss, but in the grand scheme of things the team is in fine form. After dropping 5-straight through the last part of January and early February, the Kings rattled off 4 straight victories, a streak that ended on Saturday to a determined Alberni club attempting to (and succeeding in) securing a playoff spot. It was a blip on the radar that the Kings will move past on and put full focus into their first round opponent.
Despite the 6-1-0-1 record, taking 13 out of a possible 16 points from the season series, it’s been far from a lob-sided series. 5 1-goal games including 1 to overtime paint a much better story. It’s been a very intensely fought series of 8 games and tees us up for what should be an excellent first round that could very well go the distance. Here’s a better look at the season series:
Kings Powerplay vs Nanaimo: 7/33 (21.21%)
Nanaimo Penalty Kill vs Powell River: 26/33 (78.79%)
Nanaimo Powerplay vs Powell River: 6/30 (20.00%)
Kings Powerplay vs Nanaimo: 24/30 (80.00%)
Kings Leading Scorers vs Nanaimo: Jarid Lukosevicius (5-10-15), Kurt Keats (4-8-12), Ryan Scarfo (3-4-7)
Clippers Leading Scorers vs Powell River: Bo Brauer (5-2-7)
Goaltending Matchup vs Opponent:
Jeff Smith (2-2, 2.38 GAA, .867sv%) & Jonah Imoo (4-0, 2.21 GAA, .917sv%)
Jayson Argue (2-4, 3.10 GAA, .906sv%) & Tanner Kovacs (0-1, 5.25 GAA, .810sv%
Last Playoff Series:
2008 (Clippers 4-0), 2004 (Clippers 4-3), 2002 (Clippers 4-1), 1998 (Clippers 2-1) & 1997 (Kings 4-1)
The Kings have the luxury of having a full roster to select from for game 1. It is a good problem for the Kings coaching staff to have, especially at this time of year and in short, gives Powell River options. Options to tinker, options to throw Nanaimo different combinations if necessary. Jeff Smith will go for the start in game 1, it’ll be his 6th straight start, a streak where he is 4-1, including a 2-1 victory over Nanaimo on Friday.
Nanaimo came over to Powell River on Monday night and are primed to make a run this season. The start of playoffs will no doubt be a breathe of fresh air for the Clippers who have had very little to play for, outside of pride and form, over the last couple of months. For a large majority of the season, the Clippers have been too far back to make a serious run at the 1st or 2nd spots occupied by the Kings and Grizzlies, while at the same time being comfortably ahead of Cowichan and Alberni for the 4/5 spots.
That certainty of being in the 3rd spot, and knowing the team would start on the road has no doubt given Nanaimo a small advantage in preparation for this series. The Kings, until the weekend, were left thinking about 3 different teams they could see in the 1st round, and it wasn’t until Saturday night that the Kings narrowed that down to just 1. Nanaimo meanwhile has had weeks to pick a part video from both Powell River and Victoria and prepare a game plan.
The Clippers are a team with big differences, but some similarities with Powell River. Both clubs aim to dominate physically, both clubs have good goaltending and depth scoring. Neither club employs an up-tempo high-offence style in the same vein as a Victoria or Coquitlam. Where this series may come down to is discipline. Nanaimo were the 3rd most penalized team in the regular season (280 penalties, behind only Chilliwack at 283 and Langley at 281), meaning their penalty kill got a good work out. It stood up to the test more often than not, wrapping 58 games in 6th spot at 82.50%. By contrast, the Kings sit 2nd at 84.44, and were the 5th most penalized team, but were shorthanded almost 30-less times (257).
Nanaimo will start Jayson Argue, and essentially live and die by his play as Tanner Kovacs hasn’t played very well against Powell River this year. On the back end, veteran defenceman Colton Dahlen has been sidelined for a while and has played in just 31 games this season. His absence has forced guys like Scott Prier and Nic Gushue to be better and take on more roles. Up front, Brenden Taylor, Sheldon Rempel and Devin Brosseau lead the team in scoring and have all had their moments against the Kings this year.