Knights setting trap for opponents

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Teams have been playing into the London Knights' trap all season -- 73 times to be exact.

That isn't to say the Knights have employed the trap every time they have won, but they have seen it done to them enough that they've become experts themselves.

There's been some criticism from observers of the OHL championship series between the Knights and Ottawa 67's over why such an explosive team as the Knights would revert to playing the trap at times.

"Why would a team as skilled and gifted as the Knights play the trap, ever? Use that wonderful speed to keep moving forward," one Ottawa newspaper columnist wrote.

Knights head coach Dale Hunter has said all season "to beat the trap, you have to play the trap yourself."

"If we're on a line change, there's no sense chasing a guy behind the net," he said yesterday. "We're trying to jump on them, be aggressive. Puck pressure is what you call it more than anything."

Knights defenceman and captain Danny Syvret said it's made sense to the players and when they saw it resulting in success, they quickly bought into it.

"You can pressure the other team into bad situations and you can create a lot of turnovers off of it and that creates a lot of offence off of it," Syvret said yesterday as the Knights prepared for Game 4 today at the Ottawa Civic Centre at 7 p.m.

The Knights lead the best-of-seven series 2-1 after their 5-4 win Tuesday, thanks to Syvret's goal early in the third period.

The Knights led the league in scoring this season with 310 goals, while breaking their own record for the fewest goals against at 125.

So, the trap? It is working.

"They're a tough team and they have some tough players, but I think we're more intimidated by the offence they can generate more than anything," said 67's defenceman Bard Staubitz.

The Knights have 72 goals in 16 playoff games. They've allowed 33, but the 67's have a dozen of those after scoring 244 during the regular season, third most in the league.

"We've had letdowns all over the place in this series," Syvret said. "When we get the lead, it's like we sit back and don't play enough defensively.

"We had the lowest goals-against average in OHL history and then to be giving them the turnovers we've had the last three games, that's out of character for us."

Syvret said the 67's play has forced the Knights into the trap.

"They're hard-working and they never give up. That's apparent because whenever we get the lead, they come back twice as hard or we let down."

There's no denying the Knights' form of the trap has worked.

"It's really not just sitting back and letting things happen," Syvret said. "It's sort of waiting for your opportunities to jump out of a mistake.

"Some teams let the other team get to the line and then sort of worry about the puck in their own end. But we try to create some turnovers by pressuring them into bad situations where they don't have a passing option and then being able to counter off of that."

Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea has yet to mention the trap by name. After Tuesday's game, he said: "They played careful. They do it well."

When the 67's did get a shot on goal, "we never reached the rebound," Kilrea said.


Videos

Photos