by Matt Leacy
Where do the Kitchener Rangers fit in the OHL dynamic? After their dominating victories over Kingston and Belleville last weekend, then a humbling 4-3 loss to Ottawa on Sunday, the Rangers obliterated the London Knights by a score of 8-3 on Wednesday night. Last night they defeated the Owen Sound Attack in a hard fought game, winning 5-4.
So Kitchener runs with the big teams no problem. The little teams give them a bit more of a headache. Someone on twitter suggested the Rangers ask all opposing teams to wear green for the rest of the season. They are now 3-0 against the Knights this year, and 3-0 against John Gibson (as Brandon puts it, he's the Knights kryptonite).
So is it just that, or is it the way Kitchener prepares for games? After going up 2-1 at the end of the second, they were unable to outshoot the Attack in the final 2 periods. Final shots were 44-32 for Owen Sound. In a game against an opponent who sits 13 points below the Rangers, you would expect a more dominating performance, especially after coming off an 8-3 win. The officiating wasn't helping Kitchener at all last night, but regardless the Rangers only seemed to show up when they had to. They seemed quite content with being tied with the Attack until the final minute or 2 of the third. Once again great goaltending and strong defense backed the Rangers to this win. John Gibson was absolutely spectacular between the pipes.
This team needs to focus on being better in the offensive zone and capitalizing on opportunities. They need to play better at shutting down opponents after they get the lead, and they need to remain focused for 60 minutes. This has been a problem for the past couple years in Kitchener. The difference this year is they have strong goaltending to bail them out when this happens.
Moving forward, I think a playoff series between these two teams would be incredibly entertaining and a hard fought battle for the Rangers. And it's a possible first round matchup, assuming Saginaw stops winning games. Tonight was definitely something to build on for Kitchener. Here's hoping they can keep on winning.