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3.19.2009

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.

Trends:

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

Comments:

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.

Prediction:

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....

2 comments :

Mike said...

I totally agree with the idea that if we win the series it is in 6. Winning a game 7 on the road will be very difficult.

However, even without Richard for a good portion of the season and without Neilsen for most of the second half we still finished the regular season with only 20 fewer goals scored than Spokane. It's not a stretch to say that with a healthy Lindsay and with adding Jacobs we are at least on par with Spok offensively. In fact with several of their key players out we may even be better.

Obviously the biggest difference is on defense ( I truly believe that if you put Calvin on that team or Tokarski on ours their season stats would be reversed). So if our D can step it up we have a real shot at an upset. Wouldn't it give us great confidence moving forward if we defeated the defending memorial cup champs?!

stbird said...

I also belive that we could pull off the upset, but I think it would have to be in 6 games.

We really really need to get a win a game this weekend or that upset to me tends to go away quickly.

Another thing to mention is that we need to stay out of the penalty box, if we continue to take dumb penalties we will be in a world of hurt playing Spokane.

Go Birds!!!

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