Bulls Take On Aces In First Round Of Playoffs: Series Preview

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San Francisco Bulls v Alaska Aces, March 6, 2013 – photo courtesy of Mike Tkacheff via the San Francisco Bulls Web Page – SFBulls.com

Special Teams:

San Francisco Bulls:

The Bulls had two different parts of the year regarding special teams. The beginning of the year saw the Bulls put together a decent power play unit, but struggle immensely on the penalty kill. The Bulls were in the top half of the league in power play conversion rate during the first half of the season, while they brought up the rear on the penalty kill conversion. Then they flipped in the second half of the year. The Bulls penalty kill did a lot in keeping the Bulls close in games despite the numerous power play chances they gave opposing teams. During the latter part of the season the Bulls power play went ice cold. During one stretch the Bulls power play had converted on one of 35 attempts with the man advantage. They also got burned numerous times by short handed chances as they gave up 12 on the season.

Alaska Aces:

The Aces are a defensive minded team and it shows on special teams as well. The Aces have the best penalty killing unit in the entire league with a conversion rate of 87.4 percent. They also can strike with a man down as well as they have netted 10 short handed goals on the season. The power play has been effective, but not dominant as they have floated around the middle of the upper half of the league in conversion rate for most of the season, while ending the year at 19.6 percent. Nick Mazzolini plays a major role on the power play with 23 points, 10 goals and 13 assists. Mazzolini also is a major part of penalty kill as he is tied for the league lead with four short handed goals for.


The advantage is being scored in the Aces favor in a huge way. Penalty killing becomes a major key in the post season as power play chances at great way to find a breakthrough in the tightly contested games in the playoffs. The Aces contain the best penalty kill unit in the league and they are taking on a power play that has struggled over the last two months of the season. Also Alaska has a knack for finding ways to score short handed and the Bulls have struggled all year in preventing short handed goals. The Bulls also have a knack for finding themselves shorthanded with an average 20.7 penalty minutes per game, fourth most in the league.

On paper, the Bulls look like they have no chance against the number one seeded Alaska Aces in the first round. The Aces hold advantages over the Bulls in every unit on the ice, especially on defense and special teams. The few advantages that the Bulls have are that they have players with playoff experience, especially with players they added by trades during the season and they are not scared of this Alaska team. They have played Alaska pretty tough all season with two wins in Alaska and three losses by a single a goal and they will not go down without a fight. Ultimately, I think Alaska is just too powerful in all three phases of the game and knock the Bulls out in six games as they Bulls might be able to steal a couple of games, especially at home when the return of Peter Sivak should provide a boost.

First Round Schedule:

Game 1: Tonight, April 5: Bulls at Alaska, 8:15 p.m.

Game 2: Saturday, April 6: Bulls at Alaska, 8:15 p.m.

Game 3: Thursday, April 11: Alaska at Bulls, 7:15 p.m.

Game 4: Friday, April 12: Alaska at Bulls, 7:15 p.m.

Game 5** Saturday, April 13: Alaska at Bulls, 7:15 p.m.

Game 6** Tuesday, April 16: Bulls at Alaska, 8:15 p.m.

Game 7** Wednesday, April 17: Bulls at Alaska, 8:15 p.m.

**If Necessary