By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The WHL Playoffs have been underway for just under two weeks and the top prospect for the Boston Bruins is now moving onto the second round of the postseason in quite an unprecedented fashion. For the first time in the history of the Western Hockey League, the eighth seed has eliminated the first seed – and only needed six games to do it.
The Vancouver Giants were one of the very last teams to clinch a playoff berth for the 2022 playoffs, finishing their campaign with a below-average 24-39-5-0 record and the last seed in the Western Conference. Their regular-season position set them up for a tough matchup against the best team in the conference – the Everett Silvertips, who ended their year with a 45-13-5-5 record and one of only four teams to have 100-or-more points at years’ end.
However, as everyone knows, what happens in the regular season is next to irrelevant as soon as the postseason begins, especially in the sport of hockey. In Game One, the Giants overcame two different two-goal deficits before winning it in overtime to shock the Silvertips and take a 1-0 series lead. The 2021 1st Round Pick (21st Overall) of the Boston Bruins, Fabian Lysell, tallied an assist on every goal in the game – finishing the night with five apples including the primary helper on Adam Hall’s game-winner.
There was no surprise in Game Two when Everett stormed back to dominate in a 7-3 victory, tying the series at one apiece. Even in the blowout loss, Lysell still put up another assist to bring his playoff totals to 0-6-6 in two games. Game Three was another steamrolling by the Silvertips, cruising to a 6-2 win on the road to take their first (and only) lead of the series, but again, Lysell managed to strike with his first playoff goal and another assist.
Down 2-1 in the series, Vancouver put on a show at home in the Langley Events Centre, scoring 11(!) goals, securing an 11-6 win and a tied series. Fabian Lysell netted two goals – one in the second and one in the third period, sending the series back to Everett, Washington. This is where the tides changed as Vancouver shut out the Silvertips, 3-0, with Lysell burying the insurance goal in the third period to help keep the win intact in addition to Giants goaltender Jesper Vikman (’20 VGK) stopping all 50 shots against.
With the heavily-favorited Silvertips on the brink of elimination, the Giants were in full control to make history, and history they would make. With four assists on the night, Fabian Lysell and the Vancouver Giants defeated the Everett Silvertips 6-3, booking their ticket to the second round for a matchup against the Kamloops Blazers.
In six games played, the 19-year-old Bruins draft pick put up a stellar 4-11-15 stat sheet – second in the playoff scoring race, only trailing his teammate, Zach Ostapchuk (’21 OTT) who had 16 points. In his first taste of North American playoff action, Lysell has not only excelled but has looked like the star of the show. His elite puck control, skating, and skill are clearly levels ahead of the surrounding talent across the league. He has been able to utilize his brilliant passing and dangerous shot to be a dual-threat on offense while doing his part defensively as well.
In many eyes, Lysell is the number one prospect in the Boston Bruins system right now, and for good reason. While there have been talks of him potentially joining the AHL’s Providence Bruins once his season in Vancouver ends, there is no need to rush him when he is having this success. Any and all experience is a good thing and the deeper he goes in these WHL Playoffs, the better for his development.
Kamloops won’t be an easy test for these Giants either as they ran through the Spokane Chiefs in a sweep with the help of Dallas Stars prospect Logan Stankoven (7-6-13 in 4 games). With that said, as long as Lysell and his teammates stay hot and ride this momentum – it’s hard to count them out, now more than ever before.