**Not sure if you got this entire Mission Control message from the Rockets yesterday, so I thought I'd post it for ya.
ROCKETS' FLIGHT PLAN
2005 WHL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Game 1: Friday May 6, 2005 - 7:00 PM Prospera Place
vs. Brandon Wheat Kings
Game 2: Saturday May 7, 2005 - 7:00 PM Prospera Place
vs. Brandon Wheat Kings
Given that opposites attract, it's no real surprise that the Rockets and Brandon Wheat Kings will cross paths in search of a WHL Championship. Separated geographically by 1,070 miles of rivers, mountains, trees and prairie, the two teams are a study in contrast on the ice as well.
Brandon is the league's most free-wheeling, high powered offensive machine. Though not a prolific as the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980's or the vintage Wheat Kings of the same era, their offense productivity is miles ahead of the pack - and has been all year.
In 19 playoff games thus far, Brandon has scored 72 goals - a total that is 16 ahead of the Rockets who sit in second place. Meanwhile their 54 goals against are tops in the postseason by 14. During the regular season, Brandon's 255 goals were the best in the WHL by 21. They allowed 199 goals against - far from the worst in the league but still nearly a goal per game more than Kelowna (139). 'Sufficiency of abundancy is an apt description of the Wheaties' operating formula.
To make matters worse for Kelowna, the top 3 playoff scorers are members of the Eastern Conference Champions. The Eric Fehr, Ryan Stone and Lance Monych trio has 35 goals and 78 points amoung them. In the regular season, it was much the same story. Fehr (111 pts.) and Stone (99) finished one-two in the league with Tim Konsorada ending up 4th with 87 points. Meanwhile, Monych's 66 points were good for 19th. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which names will be circled on the chalk board in the Kelowna dressing room.
But, to get right down to it, the Rockets will absolutely have to keep the frightening Brandon power play unit in check. Simply, it's the best in the west! In the postseason, the unit has cashed in on 25% of its chances while scoring a hefty 22 goals - 30% of Brandon's total scoring output. In the regular season, Brandon blew away the field with 99 power play goals and a 24.2 % efficiency. It's enough to give a coach like Jeff Truitt heartburn.
"We'll have to be real smart in our positional play against their power play," Truitt said. "They've got a lot of experience on that unit and they've been the best in the league all year. We can't afford to give them any easy opportunities."
Given the immense travel distance, the teams will park the bus and switch to air travel as their primary means of transportation. While the series' 2-3-2 format will ease the travel burden it poses a new challenge as Truitt explains.
"It makes sense from a travel standpoint," says Truitt. "But, it makes your home games all the more important."
Translation: Truitt and the Rockets will not be happy with anything other than a sweep of the first two games. They don't want to be heading into Brandon's home barn tied or trailing. At home, the Wheat Kings are 8-2 this postseason and their power play is even more deadly. On the road they're a more human 4-4.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are riding a 4-game winning streak on home ice after a sputtering 2-4 start in this year's playoffs