The Bulls come into the contest in eighth place in the western conference with a record of 13-19-5, while the Thunder are in fourth place in the west with a record of 20-13-7. The Bulls come into tonight’s game after losing the final two games of their five game home stand. The Thunder are coming off a split series with the Colorado Eagles last weekend. The Bulls have faced the Thunder four other times this season and have won three of those. Tonight’s game is also the Bulls first game since the blockbuster trade which sent captain Justin Bowers and Sacha Guimond to Gwinnet for forwards Christian Ouellet, Rylan Galiardi, and defenseman Cody Carlson.
The Bulls have not been able to finish off scoring chances. In their last two games the Bulls have taken 71 shots but only have three goals to show for a below average shooting percentage of four percent. This could be any number of issues, such as bad luck, running into hot goalies, or shots from low percentage areas. The one area they need to look to improve is on the power play. They are currently two for their last 10 power play opportunities and have looked particularly bad lately on the power play. The penalty kills has been rock solid only allowing one goal in their last 10 chances, but the Thunder have the third best power play in the league. So the Bulls need to stop playing with fire and taking to many penalties will most likely be the reason if the Bulls lose this game.
The Thunder come in to tonight’s game with a little momentum as they were able to bounce back with a six to two victory over the Colorado Eagles last Saturday. Slowing down the potent Thunder offensive attack is going to be key as the Thunder can put up goals in bunches. The Thunder are led offensively by Yannick Riendeau, who leads the team with 28 assist and 39 points. Leading goal scorer Toni Rajala was recalled to the Oklahoma City Oil Barons of the American Hockey League back on January 7th, so the Bulls will be able be their focus on limiting Riendeau’s ability to distribute the puck.
The Bulls are definitely going to get up for this contest against their northern California rival. Creating chances in high percentage area will be the offensive key as they have not been to score with the large amount of chances they have had. One way they can get the goal scoring going is on the power play which has been sloppy as of late. Defensively the Bulls need to be disciplined as they face a powerful offensive scheme. Keying in on top play maker Yannick Riendeau and limiting his ability to set up teammates will slow down the Thunder attack. The Bulls have had the advantage over the Thunder this season and I think the Bulls can keep it going tonight.