Grande Prairie at Dawson Creek [Thu., Jan. 24]
LINE: Dawson Creek by 1 1/2
This is a big game in the race for first in the West Division and a first round bye. It’s the sixth and final meeting of the season between the two best teams in the West Division.
With a win, DC can clinch first in the West. An overtime or shootout loss is almost as good as a win for DC because they would win any tiebreaker if the teams ended up tied in points at the end of the season [first tiebreaker is total wins]. In this case, DC would lead by two points with each team having two games left.
DC has won three of the first five, but two DC wins were in overtime. Every game has been decided by three goals or less: GP lost in DC 3-2 in OT and won 8-5.
As expected, DC and GP dominate league statistics. DC has the top-ranked PP and PK units but GP is no slouch ranking third in PP and second in PK. Still, DC’s PP is over 12 percentage points better than GP’s.
DC also completes the double in being the top-ranked team in shots on goal for and shots on goals against. GP is second in both categories. In shots for and against overall, DC is the best in the NPHL at +211 shots while GP is second at +132 shots.
In penalties, DC is the least penalized team in the NPHL but they also draw the least penalties against them. GP is the sixth most penalized team but draws the fifth most penalties. When all is said and done, DC is +37 PIM but GP is -73 PIM. So special teams might be a huge factor.
DC and GP are tied for first in scoring the first goal of the game at 64.71%. It translates into success. DC is a top-ranked 11-0 when scoring first while GP is third with a 9-2 record.
Don’t fall behind at the end of any period with these teams. Getting the lead is deadly for both teams. GP is 9-0 when leading after one period, DC is 7-0. After two periods, DC is 13-0 while GP is 9-1.
When these teams do fall behind, they rank in the top half of the league. DC is 1-3 to rank fourth when trailing after one period while GP is 2-3 to rank second. DC has only won once in three games when trailing after two periods but it’s better than GP who is winless in five games.
GP is the top-ranked team in goals for and against in the third period at +34 goals while DC is second at +15 goals. However, DC is the top-ranked teams at +22 goals in the second period while GP is fourth at +6 goals.
GP has come from behind to win 16.54% per cent of its games but has blown leads in the same percentage of its games. DC has come from behind to win 29.41% of its games and – impressively – has not blown a single lead all season in a game they have lost.
GP is the sixth most penalized team in regard to stick fouls, DC is second.
If you examine the stats, you would pick DC and laugh all the way to the bank. DC leads in most statistics categories, and they’ve won three of five games this season.
However – and this is a big however – historically, GP plays the Canucks much better in DC than at home. GP has split in DC this season. Last season, DC won both but had to forfeit one game. Before that, GP had won 10 straight. So, GP is a very impressive 12-2 in their last 14 visits to DC. That puts huge doubt in my mind.
However, I will go with recent history, and my philosophy of always picking the home team when in doubt. DC to win, clinch first place, and cover.
NOTE: David Temple, former NPHL linesman and avid NPHL fan, sets the lines, which are set on the Sunday previous for the games from Jan. 22-25.
TUESDAY’S RECORD STRAIGHT-UP: 1-0
TUESDAY’S RECORD AGAINST THE LINE: 1-0
SEASON RECORD STRAIGHT-UP: 44-23
SEASON RECORD AGAINST THE LINE: 38-29
The Season Series
1. Thu., Nov. 8 – Grande Prairie 2 at Dawson Creek 3 (OT)
2. Thu., Nov. 29 – Grande Prairie 8 at Dawson Creek 5
3. Thu., Dec. 6 – Dawson Creek 6 at Grande Prairie 3
4. Thu., Jan. 3 – Dawson Creek 4 at Grande Prairie 3 (OT)
5. Thu., Jan. 17 – Dawson Creek 3 at Grande Prairie 5
6. Thu., Jan. 24 – Grande Prairie at Dawson Creek
The Stats Pack
[Ranking in Parenthesis]
[Stats as of Sunday, Jan. 20]
Category Grande Prairie Dawson Creek
Record 11-3-3-0 [2-West] 14-3-0-0 [1-West]
Power Play 19-82, 23.17%  25-71, 35.21% 
Penalty Kill 22-103, 78.64%  11-63, 82.54% 
Shots For 44.76 per game  45.88 per game 
Shots Vs 37.59 per game  33.47 per game 
Shots Diff +132  +211 
PIM For 31.00 per game  13.65 per game 
PIM Vs 26.71 per game  15.82 per game 
PIM Diff -73  +37 
Scoring 1st 64.71% [T1] 64.71% [T1]
Record Scoring 1st Goal 9-2  11-0 
Record Allow 1st Goal 2-4  3-3 
Lead After 1 Period 9-0  7-0 
Trail After 1 Period 2-3 [T2] 1-3 
Lead After 2 Periods 9-1  13-0 
Trail After 2 Periods 0-5  1-2 
Goals Scored in 1st 1.76 per game  1.82 per game 
Goals Scored in 2nd 1.53 per game  2.24 per game 
Goals Scored in 3rd 2.82 per game  1.94 per game 
Goals Allowed in 1st 1.35 per game [T1] 1.35 per game [T1]
Goals Allowed in 2nd 1.18 per game  0.94 per game 
Goals Allowed in 3rd 0.82 per game  1.06 per game 
Goal Diff in 1 +7  +8 
Goal Diff in 2 +6  +22 
Goal Diff in 3 +34  +15 
Come From Behind Wins 17.65%  29.41% 
Blown Leads 17.65%  0% 
Team Stick Fouls 5.06 PIM/Game  2.82 PIM/Game