Giants goaltender Ryan Kubic certainly can't be blamed for the team's sub.-500 start to the WHL season. He's been a game star in three of the team's last four contests.

Langley-based Giants put focus on improving special teams

Vancouver Giants play their next game tonight (Friday) at 7:30 p.m. against the Kelowna Rockets at the Langley Events Centre

  • Nov. 4, 2016 5:00 a.m.

by Steve EwenSpecial to the Langley Advance

The Vancouver Giants’ record might be better if they had somehow managed to spend more time playing at even strength.

The Giants carry a 7-10 record into their next game, a Friday tilt (7:30 p.m., TSN 1040) against the Kelowna Rockets (9-8-0-0) at the Langley Events Centre. Heading into Wednesday’s action across the Western Hockey League, the Giants were ranked 20th in penalty killing (18 goals against, 66 times short, 72.3 per cent success rate) in the 22-team loop.

They also ranked 19th on the power play (9-for-59, 15.3 per cent). Vancouver is the only team to rank in the bottom five in both categories.

It’s no secret the Giants had to spend considerable practice time early in the year working on their overall defensive play. They were 1-7-0-0 to kick off the campaign and allowed five or more goals on four occasions in that span.

They have surrendered five or more goals only once since then, and have a 6-3-0-0 mark in that term to show for it. Now, it’s going to be interesting to see if coach Jason McKee and his cohorts can get special teams trending in the right direction.

“There are lots of moving parts, lots of guys involved,” said McKee. “We have to keep working on it.

“It’s just matter of repetition. “We had a lot to work on early. Our 5-on-5 game wasn’t close to where it needed to be. All our time was put into that and our 5-on-5 game is leaps and bounds better.”

Penalty killing success is often tied to goalie play, but McKee was quick to praise the efforts this season of starting netminder Ryan Kubic.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW:

 

 

CAPTION: Ryan Kubic

Kubic, in his second season as Vancouver’s No. 1 option in the crease, has been a game star in three of Vancouver’s last four contests. If you’re picking the Giants’ most valuable player to date, he’d have to be in the conversation. He’s 7-8-0-0, with a 3.09 goals against and .902 save percentage.

“I had heard lots of good things about him,” said McKee, who’s in his first year at the helm of the Giants after moving up from the Alberta Junior A league’s Spruce Grove Saints, “and he’s been a real positive all year for us. He’s given us a chance, and that’s what you want from your goaltender.”

Recent history in the WHL suggests the penalty kill is the more important special teams assignment. The bottom four teams in the league last season in penalty killing missed the playoffs, including the Giants (77 per cent), who were 19th. In 2014-15, it was three of the last five teams that missed the post-season, including the Giants (76.8 per cent), who were 18th.

Only two of the bottom seven teams in the power-play rankings last season missed the playoffs. The Giants (22.1 per cent) had the league’s 11th best man advantage mark. In 2014-15, three of the last five teams on the power play didn’t advance to the post-season.

– Steve Ewen is with The Province

• Click here to read more stories from The Province

Just Posted

UPDATED: Underground power fault blacks out part of downtown Langley

Electricity was out for a major commercial area.

Aldergrove Mall site becomes election issue

Letter from developers supporting current Township council sparks flurry of responses

WATCH: Less parking, more public space in plans for Langley City’s downtown

Two options for Fraser Highway’s one way section are up for debate.

Retired football kicker wanted play hockey as a kid, but ‘it just wasn’t in the budget’

Surrey-raised Paul McCallum now backs KidSport and its annual fundraiser set for Friday

Cloverdale CHAMP celebrates War Amps on its 100th anniversary

Child Amputee Program provides financial and peer support

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Aldergrove Kodiaks win one, lose one

Junior B hockey squad breaks losing streak with win over Mission Outlaws

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read