The Langley Rivermen kick off a six-game home stand tonight with a chance to make it six straight wins hosting the Surrey Eagles.
The 8-3-0-1 Riv are coming off a gutsy 3-1 win over the Express in Coquitlam last night. While no one will say it looked pretty the victory was a gritty two points against a division rival, the kind of game we could see yet again tonight at the Langley Events Centre. The 5-7 Eagles are mired in a four game losing skid that was kickstarted by the Rivermen last Friday in South Surrey where Langley came away with the 5-4 win.
While still missing key components to their lineup in forward Evan Anderson and defencemen Travis Maxwell and Austen Bietenbeck, the Rivermen have really hit a stride of late. All four forward lines have been effective and finding the scoresheet, led by Austin Azurdia who has points in 7 straight.
Goaltending has also been solid for the Riv with Steve Myland and Brock Crossthwaite making critical stops, the former earning first star honours last night making 31 saves.
The Eagles will look to avenge what was a bad road game for them at the LEC last Saturday where the Riv earned a 5-1 win with Crossthwaite making 24 saves. 11 different Rivermen found the scoresheet including James Robinson who notched three assists.
Tonight already marks the fourth meeting of the season between the Rivermen and Eagles with Langley holding the season series edge 2-1 but with points in all three after a double overtime loss September 13th in Surrey. The Riv have outscored the Eagles 13-9 in those meetings.
Special Teams must be a focus for the Riv tonight. Coming into the game Langley’s penalty kill is a respectable 83% and an even better 89% at home but the power play has been anemic. The Riv are converting on just 12% of their man advantages and are just 2/18 at the Langley Events Centre through three home games. While slipping the last couple weeks, Surrey still boasts a very good power play away from home at 28%.
The Rivermen also need to look back to that double overtime game in Surrey for the level of shots sent on the Eagles’ net (54). Langley has been outshot in 3 of their last 4 games, registering less than 30 SOG in those three. During their four-game losing skid, the Eagles have been outscored by a combined 20-9 so the Riv should expect to fire early and often.