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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Hickey to Manchester

Rich Hammond over at Inside the Kings has reported this morning that Thomas Hickey will be reporting to the Manchester Monarchs to finish the AHL season (and playoffs with them).

Congratulations to Thomas... who likely will not be back in Seattle next season. We wish him the best of luck and I doubt anyone around here will forget #4 anytime soon.


Season wrap... sort of....

I'll start by saying that this will NOT be my last post of the season. I will do some season ending stuff this week that will include an attempt to hand out some letter grades and provide a bit of a glimpse forward as to what we might see next season from the team.

First, let's get to last night....

I really do not believe that it would have had an impact on the outcome of the game... but the WHL and it's officials owe the Thunderbirds, their fans and Rob Sumner an apology.

I assume you all know what I'm talking about... but if you don't, here is what happened.

At the 11:00 mark of the 3rd period, Levko Koper gets a cross checking penalty.

At the 11:24 mark of the 3rd period, Drayson Bowman gets a high sticking penalty.

At the 12:59 mark of the period, Prab Rai scores a Power Play goal. With one second left in the

Koper penalty... he should have come out of the box and :25 should have remained in the penalty to Drayson Bowman.

Instead, Bowman and Koper are both let out of the box and Bowman is allowed to skate around
for about 45 seconds before the play is stopped. The referees decide that Bowman just needs to go back in the box for 25 more seconds... there is no "too many men on the ice" penalty and there is no harm no foul.

Understandably, Sumner goes nuts, gets a bench minor and after Bowman comes out of the box the Chiefs score a power play goal to give Spokane the 4-2 lead. Sumner goes nuts again and gets tossed from the game.

I would have done the exact same thing... I totally get it... and the WHL should be ashamed of their referees and timekeepers making such a big mistake in such an important game. Tbirds later cut the lead to 4-3 before Spokane added an empty net goal for the final 5-3 tally.

The feeling sucks... it really does... I've been a Tbirds fan since I was about 6 or 7 years old in 1988 and the feeling never changes. The mantra of a Tbird fan is "wait til next year" and honestly it does get old to feel that way every season....

But I do believe that the future is bright in Kent and I believe we have only seen the beginning of a brand new glorious era of Thunderbirds hockey.

To the players we know will not be back... Greg Scott, Chris Cloud and Devon Leblanc.... you guys will be missed. Every player that comes through Seattle winds up leaving a lasting memory with the die hard fans here and these three are no exception. I will have more on these three when I do letter grades later this week.


It is over...

I wish I wasn't... but I was right...

Seattle loses in Game 5... 5-3 to the Spokane Chiefs and so ends another season of Thunderbirds hockey. I will have more thoughts tomorrow.... I want to digest Sumner's thoughts and write more tomorrow.

Let's Go Birds

This could be it ladies and gents...

Tbirds need to win 3 in a row in order to stay alive and you can't win all 3 at one time. Captain Obvious says... they have to win tonight to stay alive.

Players need to stick to the game-plan, get traffic in front of the net, go hard to the net and protect the front of their own net as if their life depends upon it.

This team needs to have a controlled sense of urgency. In Game 4 we saw that urgency... and what we saw was several players trying desperately to do it by themselves... and that is far too difficult to do.

I'll have some comments directly following the game if the Tbirds win... if they lose... I might have to collect my thoughts and post something tomorrow.


Tbirds pushed to the brink...

Sigh... ok...

I really was just too disheartened to write anything last night... so now it's 9:45 on Thursday morning and I guess I'll write down a few thoughts.

Seattle loses last night 3-2 to Spokane and now trail the series 3 games to 1 and must go back to Spokane facing elimination on Saturday.

Seattle started the first period with some fire despite falling behind 1-0 on a soft goal by Spokane. Justin McCrae intelligently jammed the puck at the near post where is just barely slipped past Pickard into the corner of the net about two inches over the line.

Fortunately... the Tbirds were not deterred by the fluke goal and answered less than a minute later as Jim O'Brien finally pounded home a 3rd rebound into an open net past Tokarski to even up the game a 1-1. Jeremy Schappert put a nice shot on goal and Jeremy Boyer banged at the puck several times before it finally squirted out to the right of Tokarski where O'Brien was waiting for the hammer.

Less than 3 minutes later Schappert then gave Seattle their only lead as Richard and LeBlanc worked the puck out of the corner where it leaked into the high slot. Schappert pounced on the loose puck and whipped a wrist shot over the glove hand and into the top corner to beat Tokarski. The goal briefly energized the small home crowd of 2800 and gave Seattle the lead.

Unfortunately... the lead was short lived as Tyler Johnson sniped top shelf over Pickard on a beautiful 2 on 1 pass across from Mitch Wahl and just like that the game was again tied at 2-2.

The game was then decided at exactly the mid point as Jim O'Brien took a questionable high sticking penalty away from the puck in the offensive zone and at exactly the 10 minute mark of the 2nd period a beautiful slap-pass by Trevor Glass to Ondrej Roman gave the Chiefs a 3-2 lead they would never release.

I wish I could tell you that the Tbirds were relentless in their pressure trying to tie the game... but they honestly only had about 2 or 3 solid scoring chances the rest of the game and they went quietly into the night.

With their backs against the wall and a road trip looming... we will get a chance to see what kind of character this team has. Down 3-1 do they pack it up mentally and start wondering when and how they are getting home? Or do they realize that with a win in Game 5 in Spokane... they still return home for Game 6... and then anything could happen after winning two straight in a Game 7 on the road?

I guess we shall find out...


Where is the heart?

For just a second... let's ignore the fact that the Tbirds threw out a real stinker tonight for the first playoff game at the ShoWare Center.

Let's ignore the fact that their Power Play was horrendous AND surrendered two shorthanded goals.

Ignore the fact that it looked like half the team (or more) were already wondering whether they could get a tee time for next week...

Explain this to me....

15 years ago... would a team that just got embarrassed in their first home playoff game and lost the series lead 2-1... not have a single player drop the gloves???

What's going on here? Not one guy on that team wants to punch somebody in the face after giving up 5 straight goals?

I find that hard to believe and I personally find it frustrating...

I don't have to put my face on the line, I don't have to bust my knuckles on another players helmet.... but if we're going down... shouldn't we go down swinging?

Just when I think I have this team figured out... they do something different. So I think that means they will win tomorrow night... who knows?

Game 3 is tonight...

Most of you have heard that the WHL has moved Game 5 in Spokane to Saturday night to allow Spokane people the ability to watch the Gonzaga basketball game. I personally can't stand Gonzaga... but I also don't really have a problem with moving the game. I feel bad for any Seattle fans that made plans to head over to Spokane on Friday and might not be able to get their money back on a hotel room for Friday night (though I imagine they could). So it isn't a perfect situation... but let's be honest here... as with most things in life this is all about money and I don't have a problem with that. As far as I'm concerned... what is good for the league is good for the Tbirds and good for us and if the Tbirds were in a similar situation I would want the league to be flexible as well. Whatever... On to the business at hand.

Game 3 is tonight... with Game 4 tomorrow. It looks like attendance isn't quite going to be what we had hoped for... but if you take a quick glance around the league playoff attendance appears to be down everyone and that was for games over the weekend, so let's not get our undies in a bunch by the small crowds tonight and tomorrow. Mid-week hockey games are always going be a bit of a tough sell until the ball gets rolling a little bit more down in Kent.

The keys to the game tonight remain the same for Seattle...

Can Calvin Pickard continue being red hot?

Can Seattle's defense protect the front of the net?

Can Seattle keep Drayson Bowman off the scoreboard?

Can the Tbirds still get a lift from the home crowd and match or better Spokane's intensity?

We will probably know a lot from the first period and I have a feeling the Tbirds are going to need to win both games at home if they want to win this series at it heads back to Spokane on Saturday.


Seattle steals home ice advantage from Spokane

Tbirds pick up an enormous win tonight in Spokane... holding off the Chiefs in the final moments and holding on for a 2-1 victory.

Seattle got on the board in the 2nd period on a Power Play goal by Thomas Hickey who put a shot on Chief goaltender Dustin Tokarski from the left point where he made the save but saw the puck bounce off of his defender and into his own net.

Tbirds then added to the lead as Sena Acolatse went hard to the net, around the Spokane defender and banged home a rebound of a Lockhart shot from the right circle that gave Seattle the 2-0 lead.

Drayson Bowman picked up his 3rd of the playoffs on a weird play that the camera missed... I guess it was an errand pass by Greg Scott that Bowman picked up and went top shelf over the glove hand of Calvin Pickard to cut the lead in half.

Seattle dug down deep and held off the Chiefs in the closing moments to secure the 2-1 win and even the series at 1-1.

I cannot emphasize enough how great Pickard was again tonight for the Tbirds.... finishing the game with 33 saves on 34 shots and earning the 1st star of the game in the process. The future is amazingly bright for young Pickard... but it appears that perhaps the future is already here.

Seattle hops on the bus for the happy ride back to Kent knowing that they only need to win their 3 home games to take the series away from the 4th seeded Chiefs.

Game 3... is Tuesday night at the ShoWare Center... followed by Game 4 on Wednesday night.


Heartbreaking loss...

Tbirds lose an absolute heartbreaker tonight... 2-1 to the Chiefs in Spokane.

I thought they played well... I thought Spokane played well... I thought Calvin Pickard was exceptional to keep the Tbirds in the game and in the end, the play of Drayson Bowman and his two goals were the difference for Spokane.

I had a feeling that shutting down Bowman was the key to the series and so far I am unfortunately 1 for 1.

Can the Tbirds respond with a big win tomorrow... the first 20 minutes of the game on Saturday might be the different in the entire series and the entire season.


Seattle Spokane Series Preview

Let's kick this thing off with the head to head stats courtesy of Alan Caldwell over at Small Thoughts at Large.

Spokane won the season series 5-3-0-1 over the Tbirds and outscored them 24-17 in the series. Most games were close with two 4 goal wins by the Chiefs pushing the final goal margin.

Top performers for Spokane in the series:

Drayson Bowman: 8 games, 9 goals, 1 assist
Levko Koper: 9 games, 1 goal, 7 assists

Dustin Tokarski: 6 games, 3 wins, 2 losses, 1 shootout loss, 2.14 GAA and 92.1% Save Percentage
Top Performers for Seattle in the series:

Jim O'Brien: 8 games, 3 goals, 4 assists
Jeremy Boyer: 9 games, 3 goals, 4 assists
Greg Scott: 7 games, 1 goal, 4 assists

Calvin Pickard: 4 games, 2 wins, 2 losses, 2.76 GAA, 90.9% Save Percentage
Jacob DeSerres is assumed out... so I'm leaving out his stats.


When Seattle scores first... they are 3-1
When Spokane scores first... they are 4-1

Shots do not appear to matter...

When outshooting Spokane... Seattle is 1-1
When being outshot they are 3-4

Thomas Hickey is -3 in 3 losses... Hickey is +2 in 2 wins. He missed 4 of the 9 games the teams played.

Combined points for Greg Scott, Prab Rai and Jim O'Brien:

5 in 5 losses
9 in 4 wins

Points for Drayson Bowman of Spokane:

8 points in 4 wins
2 points in 4 losses


The path to victory is going to be a difficult one for Seattle but not impossible. Spokane is banged up and nobody knows how they will react to the recent food poisoning suffered by 11 of the Chief players. Seattle is also banged up, but it appears they will have the services of everyone except DeSerres and Steve Chaffin. In addition, Colin Jacobs has been brought in for the series and could see playing time right away.... He could help add to the overall depth of the lines and any scoring he did would be a major boost.

Seattle has been horrible on the road all season long... but not terrible on the road against Spokane going 2-2 on the road while going 2-3 at home between Key Arena and the ShoWare center. The Tbirds will have to steal a game on the road in order to win the series and if they could win either Game 1 or Game 2 it would go a long way towards winning the series.

Keys to the series:

1) Protect Home Ice. I say this is #1 because I already think it will be a tall order for Seattle to win in Spokane, but if they lose a single game at home they will need two wins in Spokane to win the series. A nearly impossible feat for a team that has played so poorly on the road.

2) Contain Drayson Bowman. It is pretty clear that when he gets his points the Chiefs have won and when he has not typically the Tbirds have won. Keeping Bowman in check the Tbirds will force Spokane's other players to come through with some scoring to win the series.

3) Protect the front of the net. This speaks indirectly to the depth (or lack thereof) of the lines that Seattle has. As good as Pickard is... he is still 16 and has never been in a situation like this before. The Tbirds must be able to control, corral and hammer away rebounds around the net. Pickard should be able to handle almost every initial shot... but if the Tbirds give the Chiefs second and third chances it will spell trouble.

4) Checking. Can Seattle play the physical style that helped them to many victories in the new ShoWare Center. Most players on this team aren't too eager to hit people... if the one's that do... the guys like Cloud, Leblanc, Lockhart, Acolatse, Hickey and Warg can get their feet moving and execute some legal bone crushing hits and set the tone early and often they might be able to capitalize on their home ice and sneak through a win in Spokane.


This team has played very inconsistently all season... so let me go with a "head" prediction and a "heart" prediction.

Those saying that Seattle can win in 7 games are really not paying attention. Seattle hasn't played well on the road nearly all season and expecting to win a Game 7 in front of 10,000 in Spokane would be an unreal accomplishment... Thus... if Seattle is going to win this series I think it has to be at home in Game 6.

Predicting with my head... Seattle just doesn't play with enough consistent effort on the road to steal a game in Spokane and the Chiefs have enough talent, defense and goaltending to steal a close on at the ShoWare Center. Spokane wins games 1 and 2 at home, steals Game 4 and finished the Tbirds off in Game 5 at home.

Predicting with my heart... Seattle steals Game 1, gets hammered in Game 2, holds serve at home in Games 3 and 4 before losing in Spokane in Game 5 and winning in Overtime in Game 6.

Will this team surprise me? or do they discover that it isn't so easy to just turn the switch on 100% when it comes playoff time. Let's hope I am completely wrong....

Western Conference Predictions

I'm not going to pretend that I know enough about the East to make an educated guess. I just don't think I see those teams enough to know and clearly Calgary has to be considered the favorite.

Without further ado... here are my Western Conference predictions.

#1 Vancouver vs. #8 Prince George

I think almost everyone around has the Giants winning in 4 games and I am a little surprised by that actually. Making the trek up to PG is never an easy trip. Combine that with the fact that PG is actually a pretty decent home team and Vancouver seems to have lost a little bit of their mojo lately and I think PG pulls a huge upset in 6 games............ ok just kidding.... just making sure you are awake. PG is pesky but the Giants are just too good and talented and better coaches. Giants in 5

#2 Tri-City vs. #7 Everett

All bias aside... The Americans are much better than the Silvertips and dominated the season series. I think Everett takes a game in front of their home crowd, but that's it for them. The Ams have too much fire power with or without Chet Pickard. Americans in 5.

#3 Kelowna vs. #6 Kamloops

This is the only series I see being a sweep. Kelowna won every game against the Blazers this season and totally dominated nearly every game scoring at will. Leclerc is pretty good but it hasn't seemed to matter in the regular season and I don't see it mattering here. When Kamloops really needed points to avoid facing the Rockets in the first round they were dominated in both games when it really matter. This indicated to me that mentally the Blazers are whipped on Kelowna. Rockets in 4

#4 Seattle vs. #5 Spokane

You'll have to check back later tonight for my series preview to get my prediction for our Birds.


Playoff Lines and Rotation

The first of my articles this week deals with the lines and rotation for the playoffs. We're going to have to assume that everyone is healthy... even though we don't know that for sure. The only things we know for sure is that DeSerres is not going to be ready to go and Chaffin is out for the season.

Line 1
Rai - Boyer - Scott

This line has been working very well together and it allows O'Brien to slip down to the 2nd line and give you some real strength and depth on that line.

Line 2

Parker - Nielsen - O'Brien

I love this line... this line has a center who can win faceoffs, a couple of scorers, can backcheck and an overall plus/minus that is still on the plus side thanks to O'Brien

Line 3

Leblanc - Cloud - Richard

Once we get down here it gets a little tougher. This could be a very nice energy/defensive line. Richard excels as a penalty killer and keeping him on the 3rd line keeps him freed up to do that job. This line can hit a little, fight a little, and would excel at chipping the puck to the corner to win battles down low.

Line 4

Acolatse - (Wells/Lockhart/Silvester)

Gets a little tougher down here too. Having Acolatse down on line 4 probably limits his minutes a little bit, but it also frees him up to get those additional minutes on the 1st or 2nd power play unit, which is a position where he can excel. The other two spots are a little tougher. Lockhart has shown great energy at times and is the only guy on this team who consistently is willing to hit people... but he also has appeared to wear down as the season has gone along and he may not have much left in the tank. Silvester and Wells have both shown flashes at times and both have shown nearly nothing at other times. I think you rotate these two spots between these three kids with each taking a turn getting the healthy scratch.

Lund is a scratch...


Defense is fairly easy...

Hickey - Haber

Haber hasn't looked great lately but when paired with Hickey he does just fine (most are this way). Pairing Hickey with Haber allows for...

Warg - Schappert

This pairing is a natural second pairing with Warg making incredible strides over the course of the season and Schappert being the teams most improved player.

With Chaffin out...

Fleming - Dillon

This becomes your 3rd pairing and really shouldn't play much at all... and really only goes out when needed. I like how Fleming has played lately but this is the playoffs and he isn't quite ready for the big time.

Power Play lines

PP 1

Rai - Scott - Boyer - Hickey - Acolatse

PP 2

Parker - Obrien - Cloud (Nielsen?) - Warg - Schappert

I'm not as sure whether Nielsen fits into the plans on the Power Play. Nielsen will be one of your first penalty killers if healthy so he may not be in regular rotation on the PP. Also depends on his health... but we're assuming he is good to go.

Penalty Killers - always depending on the guy or guys in the box obviously.

Scott - Nielsen - Hickey - Haber

Richard - Boyer - Warg - Schappert


Seattle is really top heavy and I think Sumner would do well to cut the rotation down in the playoffs. Unlike past years where the team was easily able to rotate 3 and sometimes 4 lines... I think this team is really only 2.5 lines deep. I know some players are simply not going to be happy about that, but there is a reason why this team has so many glaring minus ratings. To beat Spokane... I think the top 2 lines need to shine and the 3rd lines need to hold down the fort when they are in there for this team to have a chance.

There are a handful of line situations that I tinkered with... so let me know what you guys think... I have a feeling there will be plenty of different opinions on this.


Seattle vs. Spokane

Kelowna just finished beating Spokane 1-0 and the result is that Kelowna has clinched the #3 seed and Spokane has finished in the #4 spot in the Western Conference and will open at home against the Tbirds on Friday (or Saturday... standby).

Now that I know the opponent for sure... I will start finishing up my series preview. I am also going to have an article/post this week on what I think the lines and rotation should look like for the playoffs.

Also of note... I do know that Tanner Muth is headed down from Calgary to join the team for the first round as well.

Playoff Tickets

Come on Tbird fans... let's get this thing going.

Right now there are way too many tickets left for the playoff games on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. It is time to get your friends together and take them to the game! We can't have the building half empty for the first ever playoff games at the ShoWare Center.

The front office has some playoff deals going and they have asked me to throw it out to my readers.

Two new deals are currently being run...

First Deal... Buy 10, get 12 for $200

Buy 10 tickets and receive 2 extra tickets for free for $200. This represents a $4 discount, there are no service fees and your group will be recognized on the video board.

Second Deal... Buy 10 tickets and split them between both games.

Buy 10 tickets and receive a $4 discount and a waive of the service fees. You can split the 10 tickets between the two games anyway you want. You want 8 for Game 1 and 2 for Game 2? Done... 5 and 5... done and done... etc.

Please contact Sean Runnels at or call him at 253-239-7825.

Come on Tbird fans... we HAVE to get people into the building. Make it happen....

Double Digits...

A few random trivia answers...

Last time the Tbirds scored 10 goals in a game?

February 28, 2003

Seattle scored 10 goals on their way to a 10-6 victory over the Tri-City Americans. Tomas Mojzis and Greg Black each had 3 goals and an assist in the victory. 12 Tbirds recorded points in the win.

Last time the Tbirds won by 10 or more goals?

Just weeks earlier on February 15, 2003

Seattle scored 11 times in an 11-1 romp of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Dustin Johner had 3 goals and an assist. Brooks Laich had a goal and 4 assists and Nate Thompson had 4 points as well. Aaron Gagnon and Tomas Mojzis also had 3 points a piece. The Tbirds totaled 31 player points and 14 players getting points. In what was a very eventful night at Key Arena the teams combined for 223 penalty minutes.


Perfect 10

Tbirds hang a 10 spot on Everett tonight AND get the shutout for Kyle Jahraus in the process.

Couple comments...

Connor Sanvido, the Tbirds 1st Round bantam pick from last season is here with the team. Why in the world is he not playing tonight??? Would tonight not have been the perfect night for him to get some playing time and see what you have?

Also... Colin Jacobs' team lost in the Regional finals over the weekend and I am told he will be in Seattle by Tuesday to be with the team.

Also... obviously Jahraus was here and played tonight and good for him for playing well and picking up the shutout. Question obviously is... what took the team so long to get him here??

Post Season Awards

3 Stars of the game Award - Prab Rai
Humanitarian Award - Lindsay Nielsen
Scholarship Award - Erik Fleming
Top Scorer - Greg Scott
Most Improved - Jeremy Schappert
Top Defensemen - Thomas Hickey
Rookie of the Year - Calvin Pickard
Team MVP - Thomas Hickey

Schappert could be considered a slight surprise (but not a shock). I might have gone with Stefan Warg who also improved a ton over the course of the season.

The rest really isn't a shock... Thomas Hickey is the heart and soul of this team and deserves his awards and accolades.

The Tbirds first round opponent is still a mystery and I KNOW that Spokane could still theoretically catch Kelowna for the 3rd seed, but I just don't see that happening.... Expect to see the Tbirds in Spokane on Friday (or Saturday) to open the playoffs.


Tbirds win in OT, clinch the 5 spot in the West

I'm not going to say that this was a good win by the Tbirds tonight... but it sure is a gutty win.

Down 2-0 less than 2 minutes into the game and coming on the heels of the 9-1 blowout last night, the Tbirds could have easily folded the tent up the rest of the game and none of us would have been surprised.

Much to my surprise... they dug down deep... scored the games next 3 goals and eventually won it in overtime.

With the win... Seattle has 73 points. Couple that with Kamloops losing tonight and the Blazers finish the season with 72 points.

In addition to that... Kelowna went a long way towards being the #3 seed by blowing out the Blazers 7-1 and they are a full 3 points ahead of the food poisoned Spokane Chiefs.

So we can't say for sure that Seattle is playing Spokane in the first round... but it is beginning to look like that will probably be the case.

A little rest...

After a nice night's rest... it is a little bit easier to keep things in perspective.

I know people are pretty frustrated and upset about last night's game... but it IS just one game. Yeah it was a pretty horrible game and it looked like most of the players were disinterested.... but let's see how this team responds tonight in Portland and tomorrow again at home against Everett.

Maybe... just maybe this was the wake up call that this team needed at exactly the right time just a week before the playoffs. Maybe this launches the Tbirds into 4-6 weeks of consistent hustle and effort and results.

All we can do is hope... but I don't think everyone should get quite so worked up about one loss at home.



I know we're missing players... I know there are excuses... etc.

Someone please explain to me how THAT team makes it further than 5 games in the playoffs...


Tbirds win...

I missed the game last night due to a game of my own...

Do not fear though... I am working on several posts that will lead up to the first puck drop of the playoffs.

was able to listen to most of the game and it sounded as though the Tbirds played well for the most part but also had some lapses.

I was told later that Coach Sumner said something similar to that after the game.

Pictures from the game by Mick White at Kent Valley Sports can be found here.


More numbers...

I need a whole new post to add some more numbers to this discussion about the Divisions and Conferences.


Eastern Division
420-346-30-38, 908 points, win % of .544
Goals For - 2780 Goals Against - 2773

Western Division
339-297-17-31, 726 points, win % of .531
Goals For - 2155 Goals Against - 2162

That would also suggest that the East is slightly better...

Record by Divisions....

U.S. Division
167-150-10-14, 358 points, .525
Goals For - 1038 Goals Against - 1044

BC Division
172-147-7-17, 368 points, .536
Goals For - 1117 Goals Against - 1118

Eastern Division
208-183-13-12, 441 points, .530
Goals For - 1428 Goals Against - 1455

Central Division
212-163-17-26, 467 points, .559
Goals For - 1352 Goals Against - 1318

This would also support the Massey Ratings that the Central is overall the toughest Division and that the US Division is the weakest. What doesn't really mesh is the fact that the Eastern Division doesn't look better than the BC Division and only slightly better than the US Division, yet the Massey Ratings have the East as the 2nd toughest division.

Don't you just love this stuff!!!


Revisting the Massey Ratings

As many of you know... I tend to be a bit of a stat head and that is difficult to be in the WHL because there just aren't nearly as many statistical resources as there are in other sports such as Major League Baseball.

The Massey Ratings is one of the few exceptions.

I won't go into the details of how the calculations are done... just trust the fact that it is ONE form of scientific calculations. Thus... this isn't the gospel but it does contain some pretty strong opinions.

You can check for yourself here...

Some interesting things to note about Seattle first.

- Seattle currently is rated as the 13th best team in the 22 team league (sounds about right). Seattle is slightly behind Lethbridge and Medicine Hat while slightly ahead of Edmonton and Prince Albert.

- Seattle has the 16th rated offense and the 12th rated defense. For those who have watched this team that defensive rating is a bit of a mystery as 12th is basically league average. I suppose Hickey's numbers are so good that he helps balance out the rest.

- Seattle is rated #1 in the league in Home Ice... but hold on... let's define what it is actually talking about. The #1 Home Ice Advantage rating actually just means that Seattle has the biggest difference in performance between Home and Road games. Basically... this team is great at home and horrible on the road. Again no shocker there...

- Another bad sign for the Tbirds is they have played so far the 21st ranked toughest schedule and if you factor in the remaining 4 home games they will actually "overtake" Tri-City for the easiest schedule played this season. This of course doesn't take into account whether playing a ton of road games at the start of the year is somehow tougher than having a balanced schedule. Remember... no matter what... we always knew the Birds would play 36 away and 36 at home. The toughest schedule in the league belongs to Chilliwack. Another thing to keep in mind with strength of schedule... it will be tilted mostly based on two things... how tough your division is and how good you are. Seattle, Spokane and Tri-City all have had easier schedules than Portland because they have played Portland a bunch of times and won most of those games and Portland hasn't had a good record. Conversely... Portland has had a "tougher" schedule because they have played those three teams a bunch of times and they all have .500 records or better. That make any sense?

- Which leads me into divisions. The U.S. Division is rated the worst in the WHL and the Western Conference is rated the worse of the two conferences. The Central is the toughest with the Eastern Division the 2nd toughest. Does this help us explain how Calgary has defeated Vancouver twice? Maybe just slightly... Does this mean trouble for the Western Conference in the WHL Finals, no matter who makes it? perhaps... Does this mean that teams like Tri-City and Spokane are potential paper tigers and will get exposed by teams that have played tougher schedules? Kamloops and Everett both have played stronger schedules... are they upset potential teams? All interesting questions...

- 750 games have been played and the average score of games is 4.53 - 1.95. Home teams have scored 3.48 goals per game and home teams are 485-243 (66.62% win percentage).

- Most unlikely result based on the power rankings? January 18th, Chilliwack beat Calgary IN Calgary 5-1. Yeah I would call that unlikely. The ratings system said there was a 6.5% chance of that happening.

So there you go... some of you might hate this... some might love it.

While we are here... what does the Massey Ratings predict for tomorrow night? Seattle 4.3 Prince George 2.2. With Seattle having an 81% chance of winning.


Post #400, Win #32

400 posts later.....

Seattle picks up win number 32 tonight 6-0 over the Americans.

Tonight I took some running notes about the game and that will be tonight's format.

- Prab Rai is in the building... walking on crutches... not good.

- Schappert turnover leads to a Fadden-Lazo 2 on 1... Fadden with a nice saucer pass over to Lazo but Pickard is sharp on the backside and kicks the shot out with his foot.

- Bad slashing penalty by Leblanc after Parker had been leveled by a shoulder a minute earlier. Penalty comes right as Cloud was bringing the puck over the blue line and into the American zone.

- Fleming sticking up for Hickey after a hard hit by an American player... good for him.'

- Scott with a Power Play goal to the get the Tbirds on the board just seconds after the Power Play began. Scott beat Martyniuk over the glove hand from a similar location as several of his other Power Play goals this season... but this one was a bit deeper coming from closer to the blue line.

- LeBlanc slipped a shot past Martyniuk about a minute later off a pass from Acolatse to give the Tbirds a 2-0 lead.

Shots at the end of the first period were 9-5 in favor of Tri-City as Seattle went nearly half the period before being credited with a shot on goal.

- Parker back out for the second period (after getting stitches we would learn later) and is literally on the ice for about a minute before taking another shot to the face, this time from Lazo and "earning" a 4 minute Power Play for the Birds. Parker leaves the game shortly after.

- Acolatse converts a wicked one timer from the right circle that smacks the inside of the post and into the net for a 3-0 Tbirds lead. The first 2 minutes of the PP were regrettable but the second half was good and Acolatse cashes in for Seattle. I know I have mentioned this previously but I have to point out to Tbirds fans that merely shooting the puck does not always result in goals and that a team on the Power Play should be looking for "good" shots... A team on the Power Play can always get shots from the outside... but its the quality shots in close that often result in goals.

- Some really good minutes from Erik Fleming tonight.

- Nice 2 on 1 by Scott to Richard that is saved by Owsley who came on in relief after Boyer tipped in a pass by Scott to give Seattle a 4-0 lead.

Shots on goal after 2 periods of play were 20-13 in favor of Tri-City as Calvin Pickard was really good in net.

- Cloud, 15 seconds into the 3rd period gives Seattle a 5-0 lead after a Hickey shot was blocked.

- Parker back AGAIN, this time with a full face shield (later we learned he received a second set of stitches).

- Silvester completes the scoring with a slap shot that beats Owsley 5 hole to give Seattle the 6-0 margin. Good slapper by Silvester... but Owsley should have stopped the shot.

So there you have it... Seattle trails Kamloops for the #5 seed by one point with 4 home games to play. Tbirds are back to the Sho on Wednesday night to face Prince George.

Don't forget to hit up the Fan Bus to Portland for the final regular season road game on Saturday.


Seattle falls to Americans...

Good 1st Period
Horrible 2nd Period
Good 3rd Period

Equals... a 4-2 loss for Seattle to the Americans.

Tip of the cap to the Americans who clinched their second straight U.S. Division title tonight in the win. No tip of the cap to the obnoxious American fans sitting behind me in section 105 who made good American fans look like complete idiots.

Seattle was inconsistent tonight like they have been all season and once again tonight proved that the defense behind Hickey and Warg just isn't good enough right now.

Warg +2
Hickey +1
Schappert +1
Dillon -3 (where has his game gone???)
Haber -3

Tri-City had only 3 even strength goals... meaning that Dillon and Haber were out for all 3 of them.

Seattle did manage to get some decent efforts out of a couple of guys. Jeremy Boyer had a nice game, setting up the Chris Cloud goal and earning the 2nd star.

A big concern for the Tbirds has to be the health of Prab Rai... Perhaps I shouldn't be saying this, but I don't think it was a huge secret to notice that Rai had an ice pack on his back for most of the time he spent on the bench before limping off the ice with a brace around his ankle later in the game. Was the brace theatrics? or does Rai have both a back and an ankle problem now? Without a healthy Prab Rai I think this team is in some serious trouble and with Spokane losing tonight and Kamloops and Kelowna winning... the Tbirds appear to be setting themselves up for a date with the Rockets in the first round with a 3/6 match-up. Seattle could still earn the 5th seed and Spokane could still earn the 3rd but if the playoffs started today it would be Seattle-Kelowna in the first round.

Seattle could be facing tomorrow with the reality of no Nielsen, no Rai and still no DeSerres who I've been told is still not taking shots in warm-ups. (Can someone else confirm that?) Ouch...

Important to see how this team bounces back tomorrow against the same club who really won't have anything to play for outside of pride.


Tbirds suffer 2nd straight loss at Sho

I've missed the last two games because of some obligations and Seattle has now dropped those last 2 games at home. Maybe I am a good luck charm this season...

Game Photos can be found here by Mick White.

I will say again that the results of these games aren't terrible important but the effort and how the team plays is what we should be watching. By all indications in the last three games I don't see many reasons why this team can pull off a first round upset. They are capable of pulling off a first round upset but they sure don't act like a team that believes it themselves or cares enough to make it happen. Having said that... I only heard the second half of the game last night on the radio so it wouldn't really be fair for me to comment much further.

Tbirds are back to the ShoWare Center on Friday and Saturday against Tri-City.

Quick mention that the Tbirds have their last road game coming up a week from Saturday in Portland and the fan bus will be going down to the game. I wish I could go but my coaching commitments will likely keep me from being able to head down. The link to the promotion doesn't appear to be working for me this morning but you can find it pretty easily on the front of the website.

One last night... and hopefully this is truly the last note. Today is the final day that Oscar Moller could be sent back to Seattle. Last night he was slotted on the 2nd line and scored a goal in the Kings game in Columbus... I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for him to come back.


Moller to Kings

Just updated that Moller is being sent back to the Kings. Hopefully we can stop talking about this finally... but I suppose there is still a chance they might send him to Seattle... but I doubt it.


Seattle snoozes past Portland 5-3

I had a great experience playing in the Hockey Challenge yesterday morning as my E&D team defeated the Mobile Services team 5-0. I can't say I played a great game but the team win was great. With a record crowd of 6,138 the night was a success all around and I know the fans enjoyed the Tbirds game... with 5 goals, free burgers and a couple of fights... I think you would be hard pressed to find too many fans that weren't happy about last night.

Well... I'm one of those fans. Seattle did not have their best game and allowed the plucky Winterhawks (who lost 8-0 in Spokane the night before) to pull within 1 goal with 5 minutes to play in the game before Prab Rai sent the hungry fans home happy with the empty net goal in the closing minutes.

Seattle was sloppy for the most part... There must have been around 10 offside calls and where their protection of the net was the key to the victory over Vancouver last week, tonight their lack of protection was the reason why the game was even close.

This team continues to frustrate me... If anybody thinks this team has the ability to beat Spokane in the first round of the playoffs, I would immediately point to the 8-o win by Spokane over Portland and the 5-3 win by Seattle over Portland the next night. I just can't see any reason to believe that Seattle can win a game in Spokane in a playoff atmosphere without first seeing them play an excellent game on the road against a quality team... and based on Spokane's record and talent I can definitely see them coming into the Sho and stealing one game in the series.

Hopefully they will prove me wrong... I would love to be proved wrong, but until I see a more consistent high level of play, I'm just not seeing it.

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