The Moncton Flyers and Saint John Vito’s are set to do battle once again, this time it won’t be for the Monctonian Challenge banner it will be for the banner that means the most and a trip to Paradise.
It’s no secret the Vito’s and Flyers don’t like each other. This series will no doubt be an extremely physical one.
The Fredericton Caps took the the Vito’s to five games in the first round, while the Flyers got past the Northern Moose in three straight, but it was a closer series that most people anticipated.
The Flyers ran up against some outstanding netminding in round 1.
The Moose forechecked with purpose and caused the Flyers to turn pucks over at times. The Caps did the exact same thing versus the Vito’s.
Puck support and puck movement will be the difference maker in the NB final. The Vito’s and Flyers backend both boast solid puck movers, but it’s how these teams will handle the pressure and forecheck schemes that will ultimately affect the outcome of the series.
Both teams play fast and love to transition the puck, it’s the team that will support the breakout the best that will have the most success offensively off the rush. The Vito’s can’t afford to let the Flyers transition the puck, they will have to be very mindful and cautious about pinching which they love to do. The Flyers love to send their weak side winger in motion after gaining puck possession on the strong side and go indirect off the boards to create odd man rushes. The Flyers also love to go cross ice coming out of their own zone. Look for the Vito’s to apply delayed pressure or keep the 3rd guy high to limit those cross ice opportunities.
The Flyers will have to adjust to the pressure and having their time and space taken away. The Moose did a great job of that in round 1, but the Vito’s are a faster more physical team the Moose. Making plays under pressure and taking a hit to make a play will be essential for both teams, but especially the Flyers if they want to be successful.
At times this season both teams have been reluctant to make in game adjustments. They rely and trust their systems so much that it seemed like they never wanted to deviate from the plan.
For both teams to be successful they will have to try to take away or eliminate their opposition’s strengths or exploit any minor weaknesses.
The Vito’s and Flyers have tons of fire power up front, but some might say the Flyers have more depth and the slight edge in skill as well in that area.
Simply put the Vito’s forward group and their entire team for that matter are plain nasty to play against. They are a quick heavy gritty team that love to bang and crash. The Flyers better be ready to get hit because the Vito’s will bring it every shift. Obviously, with so much familiarity between these two teams it will all come down to execution, skill, character and discipline.
Let’s discuss discipline, you can’t win championship’s without it. Discipline isn’t just taking bad penalties, it’s shift length, it’s selfishness, it’s playing to the system and playing as a team.
Both these teams have discipline, but they both have a tendency to take a lot of penalties. They are both solid on the PK, which is great, but it’s playoff time and ill-advised undisciplined penalties tend to hurt even more.
The Vito’s and Flyers power plays are solid, but both have extremely different looks. The Vito’s like to generate offensive looks in the slot or down low, while the Flyers like generate their offensive chances from point shots at the top or forcing the issue by going cross ice through seams. The Flyers are perhaps the most dangerous when they move the puck quickly on the PP, and go high to low in hopes of hitting the player in the bumper or slot for the one timer.
On the PK, the Flyers have the tendency to pressure a lot which can work in their favour, but can also cost them if they cheat offensively. The Vito’s have had issues with their PP breakout and entries off and on at times this season.
The Flyers aren’t accustomed to being highly pressured on their PP breakouts or entries due in large part to their structure and ability to stretch the opposition and be first to pucks on dump ins given their team speed.
The Vito’s will have to focus on managing pucks and out number the Flyers in every instance on their man advantage in the offensive zone. Getting the puck into the offensive zone and into their structure as quickly as possible will be of great benefit for the Vito’s. Once set up their creativity and ability to win one on one puck battles or board battles are difference makers when it comes to their power play.
Obviously, any team and playoff success starts between the pipes. Both hockey clubs have solid backstops that can steal games.
All four netminders have solid foundational technique and mobility. The Flyers would have the slight advantage in the tale of the tape if height were taken into consideration. The Vito’s duo to some perhaps would have a slight advantage in the athleticism and quickness department. Creating traffic and havoc in front of the netminders will no doubt be a shared game plan for both clubs this series.
There’s no love loss between these two teams. This series has all the makings of a highly contested, entertaining Provincial Final, the team that plays like a team and moves the puck the best under pressure will ultimately win this series.
Who wants to go to Paradise? Who wants it more?
The Vito’s or the Flyers? All of the action starts tonight!