No stars, no bright lights, no big name for opposing teams to focus on.
When it comes to this season's crop of Kelowna Rockets, the whole is proving to be greater than the sum of the individual parts. A clichÃ©, certainly, and one that's over-used by coaches and sports writers. But in this case, it's true, and the main reason why Kelowna is considered one of the league's elite teams this season.
Roll four lines? Check.
Bench players for making mistakes, taking bad penalties or poor effort? Check.
Have spread-out scoring? Check.
In fact, the Rockets' scoring this season underlines this team's no-name depth. To date, Kelowna has six players
in double-digits in goals, with two more at nine goals, one at eight and another two who should realistically hit 10 or more by season's end. Total number who should score 10 goals or more: 11, or almost half of the roster.
To put this in perspective, Kelowna's star-filled squad from 2008-09 - which advanced to the Memorial Cup final that season - had 12 players with 10 or more goals.
"One of the strengths of our team is depth," said Rockets coach Ryan Huska, whose team hosts Victoria (19-14-0-2) today. "We feel we can play four lines against any other line. We feel we can roll those lines, and I think that's why we have more energy in the third period, because we're not over-playing certain players early on."
Asked if the sum is greater than the parts, Kelowna's head coach agreed.
"The players have the same vision that we (coaches) do," said Huska. "When they see things the same way we do, it makes it a lot easier. You can call it buy-in . . . but I think it's vision. They want the same thing we do this season, and it's made it fun to come to the rink."
"It's a whole team effort in order for us to win," added Rockets captain Colton Sissons. "We really don't have that superstar who can put the game on his back. But I think that's one of our strengths because everybody knows they have a role and they have a key part in us winning. I think other teams are little scared of that, to be honest."
Time will tell whether this proves to be true or not, but, statistically, the Rockets are a strong team. According to a number-crunching power poll (offence plus defence, etc.) by masseyratings.com, Kelowna (26-10-1-1) is ranked second behind league-leading Portland (32-5-1-0).
Further, Kelowna, with a win-loss record of 26-12, also has the second-best winning percentage in the league, at 68.4 per cent. Portland (31-6) is first at 84.2 per cent, with Central Division-leading Edmonton (25-13) in third at 65.7.
B.C. Division-leading Kamloops (26-14) is fourth at 65.0; with Spokane (24-13) in fifth at 64.8; and Calgary (24-14) in sixth at 63.1 per cent.
Victoria (19-16) is 14th at 54.3 per cent.
Notably, these stats are different than the WHL's percentage stats, which are based on earning points, not win-loss records. For example, Kamloops has earned 56 points out of a possible 80 (40 games), which equals a points percentage of 70.0. Kelowna's current points percentage is 71.1 per cent.
So, what do these numbers mean?
Everything and nothing.
Everything, because they show Kelowna has the potential to make a lot of noise for the rest of the regular season -Â such as overtaking Kamloops for the division lead - and the playoffs.
Nothing, because without a game breaker on their roster, such as Jamie Benn or Tyler Myers, the Rockets will have to stick to their all-in plan. Deviating from it will only wind up undoing what they've done so well this season, leaving their all-important fans of pondering 'what could have been.'
ICE CHIPS: The Rockets are 1-1 against the Royals this season, having a split a two-game set in Victoria in mid-October. . . . Victoria is 6-2-0-2 in its past 10 games, while Kelowna is 9-1-0-0. . . . Victoria is 7-9-0-1 in road games, while Kelowna is 15-2-0-0 at Prospera Place. . . . The Royals are on a two-game winning streak, while the Rockets are on a three-game winning streak. . . . Kelowna RW Henrik Nyberg (undisclosed upper-body injury; has six goals and is a candidate to hit 10) is doubtful for today's game. . . . The Rockets say D Mitchell Chapman (ankle) has started skating and is listed as day to day.