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Hockey Challenge 2014

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I didn't see the game but I'm pretty happy I didn't.... whoa. Sanvido with his first goal in the WHL is clearly the highlight tonight.

Sanvido had his struggles focusing on defensive responsibilities in training camp and that was part of the reason why he didn't make the club out of camp. On a night where the Tbirds gave up 11 goals and some players were -5 I would have to say that his first WHL goal on the PP and "only" a -1 represents a pretty nice night for the kid... good for him. I'm making a pretty general statement based on stats but I'm guessing that he had as good a night as you can have when your team loses 11-2.

Btw... anyone know the last time an opposing team had three players with hat-tricks?? I sure don't...

Sweet Victory

Nice win for the Birds last night. I know Lethbridge is having their own issues and it isn't as sweet as maybe winning in Calgary would have been..... but hey a win is win and a road win is a road win. Especially when it is your first road win of the season in the middle of a long trip and the team reporting they scratched 6 players with the flu and perhaps several others playing with flu symptoms.

Unfortunately, the Tbirds don't really get a chance to rest as they hit Medicine Hat tonight and finish up the road trip in Cranbrook tomorrow. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to watch either game, this is a fairly busy weekend so you guys might be on your own... sorry guys.


Tbirds lead 2-1 currently...

Seattle leads in Lethbridge 2-1 right now... I would say the big news of the day is that Seattle brought in Zach Walker and Connor Sanvido for reinforcements tonight.

Very short rant....

This isn't aimed at Ian Henry but more at the entire front office. When you guys call kids up... whether it should be or not... it's exciting for the fans. Think about when the Mariners call somebody up for the first time... they make an announcement.

Don't get me wrong... I think the Tbirds and Ian Henry have done a tremendous job this year getting more information out to us (the fans) than they ever have... but why not have a little fan fare and announce you are bringing these kids up for a couple of games.

Put it this way... as far as I'm concerned Sanvido and Walker making their debuts is a lot more buzz-worthy than hiring John Becanic and that isn't a slight to Sanvido but a reflection of how much fans anticipate (again whether justified or not) when the team calls up players for their first games with the team.

Either way... not a big deal. Let's go Birds... let's get a road win tonight!


Another accolade for Pickard

Calvin Pickard has been named to Team WHL for the Subway Super Series. For those that are not familiar, Russian sends over a team of Junior players to face the best that the QMJHL, OHL and WHL have to offer.

They will play two games with one being in Victory on November 25th and the following day in Kelowna on the 26th.

This would be a nice accomplishment either way but the fact that Pickard is one of only four players from the '92 year to be selected speaks to the recognition that Calvin is getting for his talent.

Pickard joins former #1 bantam pick Quinton Howden of the Moose Jaw Warrior along with Brett Connolly and Mark Pysyk.

Martin Jones of Calgary is the other goaltender on the Team WHL squad. Full rosters can be found here.

Flu bug...

So the Tbirds are likely to have several or even perhaps most of their players riddled with the flu right now and that might explain the 7-1 crushing last night. Here are the facts though.

One fact that cannot be disputed is that they got whipped 7-1 last night.

Opinion.... My opinion is that they played horribly.

Something I'm willing to accept as fact... is that they have a bunch of kids sick right now. I don't know that for a fact, but I have no reason to think Thom lies about these things so I accept it as fact.

Opinion.... It's pretty tough to play sick.

Put those things together and you come up with the truth that last night wasn't pretty. I'm definitely willing to accept that the loss was likely caused by flu ridden players, but it doesn't change the fact that they still need to play better.

How they are able to respond towards the end of the trip when players get reasonably healthy again will give us an idea about the progress that we saw in Calgary and Red Deer.


Simply terrible...

That was just plain awful. Pickard wasn't his best tonight but Patrick Roy couldn't have helped the Tbirds tonight.

Seattle actually played pretty well for the first 5-10 minutes and then things just completely fell apart. That was some of the worst defensive zone coverage we have seen from the Tbirds all season long. The Oil Kings had guys wide open in the slot all game long and on one Oil King goal I saw all 5 Tbirds on one side of the ice.

I don't know what to say... it was just ugly. I know these kids are being coached... it's not like they are telling them to play a 5 on zero defense where everyone crowds one side of the zone leaving people wide open in front of your goaltender. The progress the Birds made on Sunday against Calgary and for parts of the game against Red Deer last night were just completely gone tonight.

I'd write more... but why should I type more about that garbage.


Live from my living room...

- Tough loss for the Tbirds there. Parker, Rai and Jacobs are all stopped by Barnstable and Pickard is beaten by Coetzee on the first shot before stopping 2 other Rebels but the Tbirds fall 1-0 in the shootout and 4-3 overall. It IS a point... but a bummer for Seattle who had their chances to pick up a win. Pickard is named the 2nd star of the game.

- Correction... upon replay I think Rai would really want that shot back. Good save by Barnstable but Rai should have buried it and we are now headed to the shootout.

- F%&^ Barnstable just robbed Rai on the doorstep.

- Rai rings one off the post and Barnstable covers up... Ugh.

- Easier for me to comment to the comment from here. I'd have to defer to Thom on that one... he has a much better view than I do with this crappy video feed. I thought Warg got him before he tripped over the net, but like I said Thom has a much better view. Jacobs draws a penalty here and Seattle has a chance for a PP goal to get the extra point here. Seattle has been going with 3 forwards and Schappert in the OT.

- So a bit disappointing there for Seattle but they earn themselves at least 1 point by getting the game to overtime. Both teams have played about 30 good minutes and 30 bad minutes so this seems pretty fitting to go to overtime.

- I wish I hadn't seen that coming... but I kind of did. Red Deer finally gets a rebound to a wide open guy to the left of Pickard and Green scores his second of the night. Correction from earlier... Green's first was not on the PP but just after it had expired so RD is only 1/7 on the PP but is basically 2/7. We have a 3-3 game now.

- Another penalty here on Seattle and I'll tell you... this is not poor officiating this is just the Tbirds taking bad penalties. They are really playing with fire here giving them PP #7.

- Rebels are dangerous again on the PP but fail to score again and the Birds have forced them to an 0/6 on the PP tonight. This is a situation where stats are misleading because the Rebels have deserved a better fate on the PP tonight.

- Big scramble in front of the Seattle net and somehow the puck stays out. Muth gets a penalty and the Birds will have to go to work on the PK with about 6.5 minutes to play.

- And another big save by Pickard doing his best Marc-Andre Fleury impression on that save throwing his body to his right to make the save.

- Another big save by Pickard. You just get this feeling that Pickard might not let this game slip away.

- NO GOAL!!! The goal was reviewed and I "think" what they saw was that Coutzee ran into Pickard and the net came off perhaps before the puck crossed the line. In addition... somehow Ramsay doesn't end up with a penalty there either. I think the Tbirds might have stolen one there... at the very least it should have been a penalty on Ramsay and the score remains 3-2.

- Coetzee just scored an unreal goal going around Dillon and Ramsay to tie the score at 3-3.

- Completely opposite in the 2nd period as the Tbirds played very well and the Rebels were the team that didn't play well and Seattle takes a 3-2 lead into the final period.

- Tripping call on Jacobs and Seattle will have to protect this lead here with a few minutes left in the 2nd period.

- Moments later... Parker scores to give the Tbirds the lead!! Parker makes a nice move around the defender who commit the sin of allowing him to get to the middle of the ice and he rips a wrister past Barnstable to give them the 3-2 lead. Nielsen had the other goal.

- I walked away to make dinner and the TBirds scored again. No idea on that one... sorry guys.

- Too many men on Red Deer and Seattle gets another PP. Red Deer guys were really confused about the call, impossible for me to tell what happened.

- Seattle gets another chance right away but Barnstable makes the stop. Tbirds playing much better this period.

- Tbirds finally breakthrough here with a goal mouth scramble and Colin Jacobs finally pulls the puck out of the mess and flicks it into the net and Seattle cuts the lead to 2-1.

- 1st period is over and Seattle trails 2-0. Seattle completely beat themselves in that period.

- Another couple of moments later... I can barely type this fast. Borejko picks up a penalty and the Tbirds get another PP.

- Moments later... Borejko scores to make it 2-0 Rebels as the Tbirds are just totally beating themselves here. Pickard never saw this as he was screened all the way.

- Unreal... seriously. Seattle kills their own PP again with a too many men on the ice penalty. I couldn't see who the fault was but they were out there for a while as the Rebel PBP guys yelled about it for nearly 20 seconds.

- Great flurry of pressure here by Seattle but they haven't been able to score, Alos draws a penalty and Seattle goes on the PP for the second time.

- Pickard just made an unreal sprawling save on Green to deny him of a second PP goal.

- Another penalty to Seattle as Rouse gets a hooking call. These are just silly penalties by Seattle.

- Great diving play by Rai on the PK to intercept the pass and then dive to swat the puck down the ice.

- Hooking call on Sentyurin wipes out the PP. No way for me to make this sound good... that was a bad offensive zone penalty.

- Moments later... Tbirds get a PP on a goaltender interference call and Schappert trips and falls giving Elson a clear shorthanded breakaway and Pickard just stuffed him ice cold. Looked like me taking on a Division 7 skater... it looked that good.

- PP goal by the Nathan Green from the Rebels as the pass is fed out from behind the net to Green who flicked it over Pickard's glove into the top corner. Not good coverage there by the Tbirds on the PK leaving both Coetzee and Green open.

- I know some like to complain about the attendance in Kent, but believe me... it could be way worse. At least at Tbirds games most or all of the glass seats are filled... It looks like they couldn't GIVE away glass tickets to this game tonight.

- Decent start for Seattle, Rebels PBP guy would have you believe that both teams have had chances but neither of Pickard's saves have been tough. Chaffin picks up a tripping call and RD goes on the PP.

- Camera quality out of Red Deer is horrific... If I see anything on this game it will be a miracle.

- Former Vancouver Giant Kraymer Barnstable in net for the Rebels.

- Its Red Deer and Seattle going at it at the Enmax Centrium. Silvester is still out for the Tbirds and Wells and Tutt join him tonight on the scratch list. Red Deer guys are saying that Wells has the flu. Lockhart is back in the lineup tonight.


Scott Ramsay vs Ian Schultz

Ramsay Fight

btw... I haven't really mentioned him a ton on the blog but I really like this Ramsay kid.

I'm going to post the video of his fight with Schultz from Sunday.

Adjusting Expectations

Tbirds played twice over the weekend... I thought about doing some live updates during the Sunday game but let's be honest, probably nobody was looking at my blog on a Sunday afternoon with Fantasy Football teams playing at the same time. My weekend was pretty sweet... Tbirds lost twice, Huskies lost, both Fantasy Football teams lost and both Fantasy Hockey teams lost. Nice!

Let's start with Friday night's game against Brandon. You guys know I would never lie to you... I was drunk on Friday night probably annoying the hell out of my poor neighbors in front and to the left of me. Sorry about that guys... drinking at the Tbirds games are going to become a natural thing this season as I learn other ways to have fun at ShoWare besides the numbers on the scoreboard. Tbirds played poorly in the first period Friday and as a result found themselves down 2-0. This team just has stretches of the game where they just don't have the necessary level of defensive pride that you need to have to keep the puck out of the net. There is a high concentration level that Seattle just doesn't have at times and more often than not against good teams you wind up making a mistake and you'll find the puck in the back of your net... I don't care HOW good Calvin Pickard is (which is unreal) he simply cannot stop wide open shots. Both goals came against the normally stout Seattle PK as Brandon wound up going 2/4 on the night. The 2nd goal Pickard might want to have back but when a guy gets open from the top of the circle and snipes the top corner there still isn't very much you can do about it.

The 2nd and 3rd periods were much better for Seattle and despite falling behind 3-0 they were able to get a PP goal by Sena Acolatse to cut the lead to 3-1 and played Brandon pretty tough the rest of the way before Matt Calvert converted an empty net goal for the final 4-1 margin.

Jacob DeSerres picked up the win for Brandon getting his first win in net for the Wheaties and beating his former team in his former building. Good for Jake... seriously... good for Jake. Obviously I would always prefer a Tbirds win no matter what but if you're going to lose it couldn't have made for a better story. We all wish Jake all the best and we wish it had worked out better here. All the best to Jake with Brandon and you heard it right here... I think Jake eventually takes the starting job away from Andrew Hayes.

Sunday was a little bit of a different story. I dialed up the game on WHL TV on Sunday afternoon and it was weird watching the Tbirds on the computer in the light of day (or the gray of the Seattle sky). I know that the shots on goal look pretty bad (35-12) but I am here to tell you I thought the Tbirds actually played pretty well. The title of this post is adjusting expectations for a reason. We have to understand as Tbird fans that this is now the youngest team in the WHL and there are going to be games like Sunday where you are going to run into a team, especially on the road, that is just flat out older and more skilled than Seattle is currently. Doesn't mean that we're in for 5 years of crappy hockey, it just means that a team that is tied for 1st overall in the WHL, with experience and playing at home is going to beat this young team probably 9 times out of 10. So if we adjust our expectations and look at the game through realistic eyes it is easy to take some positives away from this game.

First off... Calgary has the top PP unit in the league and for two and a half periods the Tbirds absolutely frustrated and shut down the Hitmen PP killing off their first 4 chances before Kozun made a great play and a great pass to get Stone a wide open net at the backdoor.

Second... that desperation that the TBirds lacked in the first period against Brandon was really strong for most of the game Sunday. Yes... they gave up 35 shots and some of them were dangerous but I thought the team did a really nice job of keeping shots to the outside to where Pickard could see them and then fighting hard to clear out rebounds in front of the net. The defense was not the problem on this day.

The offense... well that is a bit of a different story. Seattle had trouble generating offense all day and the Calgary neutral and defensive zone play was very strong. Seattle had 6 PP chances... that alone should get you 12 shots but sadly it did not. If not for a very nice fake and pass by Parker to a wide open Rai on the backdoor Seattle would have easily been shutout. I will say this again though... when the average age of your forwards is 17.7 (roughly) you're going to have some struggles on offense. By contrast... even if you subtract Nielsen and Rai and insert Lockhart and Silvester (who were out with injuries Sunday) the average age of your offense next season moves up to 18.3.

So the lesson here is... despite going 0-2 over the weekend I actually thought the Tbirds played 4.5 or possibly 5 pretty good periods but you have to understand that when I say "good" it doesn't carry the same definition as it would for the Tbirds of a year ago or even two years ago.



Will DeSerres start against the Tbirds in Seattle tomorrow night?

DeSerres has yet to play a game for the Wheat Kings since being traded last week and Andrew Hayes gave up 5 goals and took the loss last night in Tri-City 5-3. I would think there is a really good chance that DeSerres with make his Brandon debut tomorrow night in a building he is familiar with.

If you haven't noticed already... and you are a season ticket holder, take a look at the player on your ticket for the game tomorrow night.

Another couple of notes...

At the player appearance at Southcenter on Tuesday night the Tbirds were handing out coupons for 50% off regularly priced $22 and $16 tickets for the game tomorrow night.

Also... the Tbirds announced they will be putting on sale a large collection of game worn jerseys in the team shop at 6:30. Jerseys will be selling for $299 each I believe.

Anyone still doubting that Portland is for real? They are 3-2 on their central swing, beating Med Hat and Lethbridge and nearly beating Calgary before falling 6-5 in the final minute of the game. If you don't think Portland is back.... not sure what will convince you at this point.



Not much to update this morning as I wasn't able to attend games this weekend. I have heard reports that Rouse looked good and so did Sentyurin. Probably the biggest development would be the reports I heard that Prab Rai looked like his "normal" self on Saturday night. This is obviously a very encouraging sign for the Tbirds because they are going to need him to play at a high level the rest of the season if they are going to have a shot at making the playoffs.

Btw... I don't want to give one of my "commenters" too hard of a time about stats but after the two games this weekend Rai is back to a "pace" of 26 goals and 26 assists. My point isn't to say "hey look how smart I am" but really the lesson is that small sample sizes are dangerous and we probably nee to see 25-35 games before we get too excited about statistical paces.


DeSerres for Rouse

Couple of notes here on the trade the Tbirds made yesterday.

Brendan Rouse... listed at 6'0" and 173 lbs. Was listed at 5'10" as a bantam so he has grown a couple of inches already. Related to former NHL player Bob Rouse who is also an assistant coach and assistant GM with the Chilliwack Bruins. Rouse has some scoring potential logging 31 goals and 107 points in 77 games season for his Langley team in his final year as a bantam.

What makes the WHL so interesting but also so difficult to follow is that with this kid being in Brandon I honestly have never seen him skate and I really don't have any idea what he looks like. So lets take a look at this from an organizational stand point. He is listed as a center with Brandon but he was drafted as a winger so he can probably do a little bit of both.


Prab Rai - F
Lindsay Nielsen - F
Jeremy Schappert - D


Sena Acolatse - F
Brendan Dillon - D
Stefan Warg - D (I)
Brad Haber - D
Kyle Jahraus - G


Brenden Silvester - F
Charles Wells - F
Jonathan Parker - F
Scott Ramsay - D
Steve Chaffin - D


Brennan Tutt - F
Mikhail Sentyurin - F (I)
Luke Lockhart - F
Chance Lund - F
Brendan Rouse - F
Erik Fleming - D
Calvin Pickard - G


Tyler Alos - F
Colin Jacobs - F
Jacob Doty - F
Mitch Elliot - F
Tanner Muth - D
(Connor Sanvido) - F

I'm throwing Sanvido in there assuming he will probably be here next year. As you can see... I think the biggest challenge facing Farwell in the next year or two is getting some more quality defenders in the '92 and '93 classes. If we think the defense is bad right now... there is going to be a giant hole in the roster as you approach the 2011-12 season. Now... obviously Farwell will make some additional moves before that happens, so it isn't like this is something we should be totally concerned with but something will obviously have to give.

Next season... you probably don't keep Jahraus as a 20, so you're looking at Sena and two of the defenders unless they go out and upgrade at that spot (not out of the question). Let's just say for the sake of argument that Warg returns and you pick between Haber/Dillon... your D will look something like Warg - Chaffin, Ramsay - Muth, Dillon/Haber - Fleming. That is only 6 D guys. Now you certainly could bring back a guy like Crema and you will likely have some choices with Zach Walker and Ryan Armbruster but the Tbirds didn't draft very many defensemen in the '09 bantam draft with just Evan Wardley, John Dora and Jordan Houghton being the 3 selections.

Looking forward even more... your 2011-12 defense is a little tougher to project with 5 current 18's making it a little tougher to decide on who stays. Wells, Silvester, Parker, Ramsay and Chaffin are on the current roster... Parker should be a lock with the battles probably being between Wells/Silvester and Ramsay/Chaffin battling for those other two spots. Right now it would be a difficult decision and I'd probably go with Wells and Ramsay to go with Parker. So your defence is penciled in with Fleming, Ramsay, Muth and... well... I dunno... and therein lies the rub. Something will have to give.

This is sort of a fun exercise but obviously things will change a lot between now and August of 2011 but I expect that Farwell is far from finished shaping this roster going into that 2011 season. As for the trade for Rouse... needless to say if he turns out to be a nice player I like the trade but from a depth point of view I would have much preferred a defensemen in the '92 or '93 class even if it wasn't a player that would be in Seattle right away.

If I were GM for a day (again a fun exercise... but really wtf do I know) I would be looking at spinning off a forward with some decent value like Wells or Silvester for another defender in those two younger classes. You could try to spin off a Dillon or Haber but by the time a player gets to his 19 year old season he really starts to lose trade value quickly if he isn't a true impact player. How many teams are going to give up a lot for a 2nd or 3rd pairing defender who probably won't be with the team the following season (depending on their own 19 year old situation). So that makes it pretty difficult for Farwell to extract any value out of another team.

On the positive side... I know we have all been pretty frustrated by the offensive production this season but the future actually looks pretty bright.

In 2011 you'll be looking at Parker and Wells/Silvester to go with Sentyurin, Lockhart, Lund, Rouse, Jacobs, Elliott, Sanvido, Alos and Troock/Hickman/Houcher as possible development players. That is possibly 3 pretty strong lines with a pretty decent chance at a solid 4th line or checking line.


Tbirds make a trade...

More information coming soon... though I probably won't get anything before they make it official.

EDIT: Official press release here. We'll discuss this move tomorrow.


Raiders smack Tbirds...

Not really sure what to say about the game last night. I spent the last two days trying to defend this team to a certain extent, telling everyone to be patient and my message this morning still stays the same.

As painful as last night was to watch, we still need to remember that this team is the 2nd youngest team in the league and you're going to have nights like last night where they just play horribly for a while and then have spurts where they look pretty capable.

The back-checking in the first period was just horrendous... no pride by the forwards getting back and finding the open skater and Prince Albert, a team who quite possibly will miss the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, took advantage 3 times in the 1st period and once in the 2nd period.

If I were Calvin Pickard, I would have been really upset. This team just isn't taking pride in keeping the puck out of the net and doing the things it needs to do to get it done.

The Jacobs-Parker-Rai line has to be broken up... that line just isn't working. It's hard being tough on Colin Jacobs because we expect way too much out of a 16 year old but he had a really tough night and Prab Rai is still trying to do way too much in the offensive end and not enough work getting back and protecting the net. The three of them combined for a -7 on a night where Sena Acolatse was +3 and had a fantastic game.

Memo to Brenden Dillon... there are new fighting rules. Hopefully he knows that now...

The good news is that the Tbirds once again showed that they can rally and play better and get themselves back into the game and give themselves a chance to win... scoring twice after I had to leave for my own game and pulling the game to within a goal at 5-4 before giving up the empty net goal.

I can't really speak to what the goals looked like... or what the action looked like after I left but I know they started to play a little better in the 2nd period and a little better to start the 3rd before I had to leave.

All in all... pretty much the same story. Some good, some bad... some ugly and ultimately a loss. The first period might have been some of the worst hockey we've seen out of this team this season. Perhaps right up there with the 3rd period down in Portland.... proving that this team has to play on the edge all the time to be successful.

These boys have to WANT to work hard... winning isn't going to just come to them and you can't just pick and choose when you want to work or even a team like Prince Albert (not that PA was terrible... they just aren't great) can make you pay on the scoreboard.

Tbirds are back in action Friday night in Everett before returning home to face PG on Saturday.

One last note... $2 Tuesday's were a hit... The Tbirds should definitely keep doing that. 3,000 on a Tuesday night in this economy is a victory in my book. It was fun to arrive close to game time and see that the parking lot was full and I had to park pretty far back in the park and ride.


Welcome to Seattle Sentyurin

Tbirds have announced that Russian Mikhail Sentyurin has been cleared to practice with the team and play.

This is great news for the kid... has to have been difficult sitting around not being able to even practice with the team.

News release here.

Follow up...

Lots of good banter going on... Needless to say I don't agree with some or most of the things being said but I don't have a problem with people disagreeing with me. I do get irritated with people who think opinion is fact and don't support their opinion with facts or at least attempt to submit evidence.... but I'm not banning anyone... I just don't understand why there is this small group of fans who think it's "cool" to be negative about everything. If it is so bad... why are you a fan? This darn broccoli just continues to taste like crap... but darn it... I guess I'll just keep eating it and just complain about it.

So let's just take these in order.

"Nielson is garbage. Shappert got destroyed on a hit he was trying to make. We have the worst examples of leaders on this team i have seen in a long time. When you have two d men playing center and wing for your team it speaks volumes of where your team is heading. We have no on ice leadership and no identity. Until we resolve these issues we could score 10 goals and manage a way to lose."

- Nielsen is spelled with an "e" first of all, and second Schappert is spelled like this. Third... If you told me that Nielsen wasn't "producing points" sure I'll go along with that. If you want to say he is playing poorly... I'll agree to disagree but he certainly isn't "garbage". Players don't go from being solid to garbage over the summer so I disagree on that one. Schappert didn't get "destroyed"... guys give hits and take hits all the time... he stood a guy up at the blue line and probably got the worst of the hit. How would that determine the value or worth of a player? Is a player only good if he's never been on the losing side of a hit? Fact of the matter is... neither one of us are in the locker room so to speak on "leadership" is probably a silly point. D men playing wing really just means we have too many defensemen on the roster and not enough wings. People... including you... love to say things like "speaks volumes of where your team is heading" but you intentionally leave out a definition. I take risks and make predictions... put your money where your mouth is and define what you mean rather than intentionally being vague.

"With that said, I think after watching last night's game, there are some things to be adressed on the team, young or not.

I am also tired of the "fire the coach" thing. the display of some fans behind the bench (where they screamed after sumner) was shamefull.

to see haber and Flemming up front is kind of telling of the state of the team right now.

We need a big natural center on this team. A guy that knows how to consistently win face -offs. Lisday Nielson is a fine center on the second line, but we now are sorrely missing O'brien and even Boyer.

on the plus side, i think that Alos,Muth, Sena, Jacobs and Schapp are playing really good in this situation-Also on the plus side, Ramsay seems to be a great addition so far. Not super fast, but it seems like the younger kids are more confident with him in the line up."

- I'm not sure what the big deal is seeing Haber and Fleming up front. They obviously don't think Tutt and Doty are ready for a ton of ice time and they want to get these guys on the ice. With the addition of Ramsay... you have more depth on the back end. We do need a big center... I totally agree... but not this season. I don't think we should sacrifice any assets this season or for the future for this season.

"End of the day this coach needs to go."

- I really... really wish we could get more intelligent comments. I've said before and I'll say it again. If you're going to tell me that Sumner should go or Farwell should go... thats fine with me, you are entitled to your opinion... but at least back it up with something. If you're going to believe in something you might as well find an intelligent reason to do so.

"no because it true and you just can't come to grips with it. Write all you want to try to justify keeping him but he still needs to go."

- This is basically an extension of the last post.... and another point here. Why are you grinding the axe with me? I have no control or influence on front office. If you want to complain, you you just do it to someone who might care.

"I'm not going to comment on anything here except you said Neilson wins faceoffs..... He has not done that well at all this year. Other than that rant on."

- Again Nielsen is spelled with an "e"... I don't have faceoff numbers, so I'm willing to concede that you might possibly be right but that doesn't change the fact that he IS a good faceoff kid... so even if the stats were true for what you are saying... my response would be that I would expect that to change.

"I'm not in the fire Sumner camp, I like him but his results aren't beyond question. My problem is with the man at the top, Farwell. Not because he is awful, but because he is the epitome of mediocrity. For me, Mediocrity is OK for awhile, but I'm not OK with it indefinitely and Farwell's been at the helm for a looooong time. Way too long for my preference. My patience meter is pegged out. If Farwell's Birds were a motorcycle gang their slogan would be FMMF forever mediocrity mediocrity forever. On the players, not long ago your prediction for Rai was "you can safely pencil him in for 40 assists and 20 goals as the absolute basement for his production" My response was he needs to be playing with folks that can put the puck in the net to get that many assists. Right now he's on pace for 18 goals and 9 assists for the season. Its early but I'll go on record right now, no way he gets 40 assists this year unless he is traded to another team. Nielsen isn't a 100 point player and I never dreamed he ever would be, not that he isn't of value to the team but right now it would be nice to get more scoring out of him, he's on pace for 0 goals and 27 assists for the year. Schappert is a -7, on pace for -56. No these 20 year olds aren't going to tear up the league. Thing is without them we'd really be in trouble. On the bright side wow on Jacobs and Pickard!"

- Results aren't beyond question... I'll agree with that. I don't mean to imply that his record is perfect and without question. I'm just saying is isn't the record of a coach you fire. As a longtime Tbirds fan... I can't really argue with you on the mediocrity thing. I will say this though... do you really think Farwell is sitting in his office thinking to himself "gee... how can we just be decent and nothing better." Doubtful. So I agree with your point to an extent. On predictions... Come on man... gotta give me a break here. The team has only played 8 games, that is just a hair over 10% of the season. Do you also think that Jason Bast is going to score 85 goals and 124 points? Give me a little bit of time before you start bashing predictions. 40 assists might be high... probably what I should have said was that 60 points was the basement. I'm still pretty comfortable with that prediction... maybe closer to 30-30. He will still get a ton of ice time on the PP and he'll play with Parker some and Jacobs some. I'm pretty comfortable with that. Plus/Minus is also something you need to give some time. Last year Warg and Sena were on the same pace and ended the season not even close to the pace so... give it some time. Might not get a LOT better... but I don't expect Schappert to be -56. If he is... you can tell me I was wrong.

"I was at the game sat, it was brutal to watch Jacobs is a one man band out there Rai was disgracful no heart at all. Acolatse feed Beach 4 lefts that was worth the price of admision."

- Not much to respond to here... I agree with this.

"Good blog Tyler. And many good points. If I could ask Farwell anything it would be, why are we carrying 3 goalies? My other question would be, is HE happy with our older players and going to stand pat, or does he see the same weaknesses that we do and will try and address them at the deadline? I'm totally happy with our younger core of players. From 18 down IMO we look pretty darn good. And my BIG question, what the heck are we going to do if the flood hits during a game? Do they have a plan in place that maybe they could make us fans aware of? Thanks again for all the work you do on this blog. Always good info!"

- Russ and the other WHL GM's are in Kelowna right now for two days of meetings. My guess is that he hasn't received an offer he likes yet to unload DeSerres. Would you rather he wait for the best deal possible or just trade him right away for like a 6th round bantam pick? You can always trade a guy for less than full value right away if you want to get rid of him badly enough.... but why do that when you can give Jake playing time, which benefits your team, and get maximum value. Having said that... maybe at these meetings he finds a partner to dance with. As for the flooding... I have absolutely no idea. I'm trying not to think about it. Back to Key Arena? Everett home games? No idea...

"So it sounds like we are back where we start before the long winded writing and an irrartional attempt to keep the coach & GM. Just because then are nice to you and provide information does not entitile them to keep there jobs. Look at he attendence numbers this year new building and still no fans. That equalls a problem why are there no fans coming to the games it never used to be this way before the current coach. It's getting harder and harder to renew the ticket every year when the don't seems to care about winning."

- This is another pathetic argument. Actually it is a couple of really poor arguments. I don't think I ever said that because Russ and Rob have been very cooperative with me that it meant they should keep their jobs. If I implied that... it certainly isn't what I meant. Second... look around the entire league before you bash "attendance". The numbers all around the league are down. Everett drew only 4200 on Sunday... Portland is good this season and drew 2600 on Saturday. This isn't just a Seattle issue. If everyone in the league was enjoying better than normal numbers and the Tbirds were one of the few teams that were down you might have an argument but my guess is that you didn't even bother to look up this "fact". Why are you bothering to threaten your tickets to me? Why in the world would I care whether you renew your tickets? I hear this argument all the time and it's just silly. "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll cancel my season tickets...." Haha... go ahead... cancel... you aren't going to get an objection from this fan.


Weekend Thoughts...

I've been trying to figure out for a while this morning what I wanted to opine on about this weekend. I watched Saturday night's game on the computer but I was also watching the Huskies pull off a stunning last second victory at the same time... so I had kind of an eye on both games at the same time.

Birds came out flat in the first period... which is to be somewhat expected on the road against a quality opponent like Spokane and unfortunately, but for a weird bounce goal DeSerres looked pretty good in net.

Seattle played better in the 2nd but after getting a goal from Jacobs to cut the lead to 2-1 they allowed the game to get to 3-1 and it was more or less over from there.

The problem this team is going to have all season is if they don't get a lead early they are going to have a hard time scoring to catch up to teams.

Which brings me to last night...

Tbirds played some of their best hockey of the season in the first period last night against the Americans. The passing was as crisp as it has been for most of the season, they went hard to the net, they made nice cuts into lanes and finished at the net. Unfortunately, the arrival of offensive explosion lasted only one period as Muth took a penalty with 15 seconds left and Shinnimin made them pay with a great shot around a defender off the post and in to get the score to 4-1. The Seattle Times actually called Muth's penalty senseless... and in my opinion that just isn't fair. I thought it was a really soft call by the official. If Muth "held" him it was slight and momentary... something that happens dozens of times per game along the boards and never gets called. If the American player had clearly been trying to skate away and Muth impeded his effort to do so... I didn't see that as the case.

Either way the penalty resulted in a goal and the Ams went to the locker room clinging to life.... things would fall apart for Seattle in the 2nd.

With a mixture of questionable calls and poor discipline the Americans cashed in on 2 of 4 power play chances to cut the lead down to 1 goal and with their one power play chance in the 3rd period the Americans cashed in and sent the game to overtime where Seattle unexpectedly lost the shootout 2-0.

Some good and some bad here... the 1st period was in my opinion the best period they have played all season... the bad side is that when you have a team down 4-0 early in the game you have to step on their throats and finish the game. Whether that means not taking penalties and playing super tight defense or if that means just continuing to score. Either way you can't let a team get back in the game and Seattle did and it cost them a point.

Unfortunately, I think this is what you're going to get out of this team. As the second youngest team in the league you are going to see this team go through some growing pains learning and figuring out how to win and close these games out.

Sometimes I really wish that I would just ignore the message board but I have to respond to some of the things I have been reading.

One... this "fire the coach", "fire the GM", "fire the scouting director" argument is not only tired but its not even convincing. I'm not a guy who defends management people no matter what... I screamed for years that the Mariners had a horrible GM in Bill Bavasi and the only way that team would ever get better is with a change at the GM position. What evidence does anyone have to support firing Rob Sumner? ok wait... let me re-phrase that. What "rational" argument is there that making a change at Head Coach is going to make this team better. Will offensive players suddenly become more talented? Will players automatically stop being the 2nd youngest team in the league? Seattle isn't getting out-coached right now... they are being out-played and out-"talented" if you want to call it that. If we were able to quantify a team's talent level... let's call the Tbirds a 5 out of 10 (just for arguments sake). The merit of a coach should be judged on how above or below that talent level a coach can get a team to play.

Example... if the Tbirds are a 5 out of 10 and they win the division, you would say a coach was pretty successful. If they were an 8 or 9 out of 10 and they finish last you would say he probably failed. Does that seem fair? ok... I'll assume it is.

If we assume this crude method to be a decent way of judging a coach (though let's not pretend it is the ONLY way or the concrete way) what talent level would you place on the current team? and how might you try to convince me that Sumner is not getting the proper level of "results" out of that talent level.

Is Seattle an 8? so being 2-5-1 is a disappointment? Or is it more realistic to say they are probably a 4 or a 5 and they are 2-5-1 and that's probably about right....

Point is... Rob Sumner has been very good to me, he has granted my interview requests and he has given answers to my questions that in my opinion went above and beyond the formulaic responses you might usually get from other coaches or what you usually get from him in his post game responses.

But that doesn't stop me from being objective and honest about his "performance" is he the best coach in the league? Quite easily no... Don Hay probably is the answer there. Has he consistently been able to get results out of his teams that exceed their talent level? I'd honestly say no there too...

But has he lacked results on teams that were loaded in talent? No there also...
So does he deserve to be fired? Not even close...
Does defending this point of view make me dizzy? Yeah it does...

Honestly... I'm so tired of this argument. I would love to not talk about this anymore until it is something worth talking about.

Second point... last night a thread was started to bash our 20 year old players. Specifically this is a defense of Lindsay Nielsen. So Lindsay Nielsen isn't going to score 90 points this year. What do any of you have to base your opinion that he is a "bad leader" and is a "bad captain". Let's see here... the guy is the best penalty killer on the team, wins faceoffs, backchecks consistently more often and better than any other player on the team. Yeah... that sounds like a guy I don't want on my team... boooo hissss... let's get a scorer who only plays at one end of the ice. Come on people... just because your captain won't be your leading scorer doesn't make him a bad captain or a bad leader. Just because the guy can't and won't crush people into the boards and doesn't drop the gloves very often doesn't mean he can't lead by example and finish checks. I've seen Nielsen hand out a few pretty good hits already this season.

Finally... linking both my Nielsen point and my Sumner rant together. Team success is based on the sum of the parts and not just the parts themselves. Just because you have a couple of drafted players doesn't mean you should win the Cup each year... and on the flip side... just because you don't score 100 points a season doesn't mean you can't still be a good hockey player and can't lead by example and help a team win. This team isn't losing because of Rob Sumner or Lindsay Nielsen or Prab Rai. This team is losing because collectively they aren't playing well enough. Fans tend to be quick to play the blame game but results are almost never based on one player or one thing... just like wins are rarely based on one player or one thing.

Relax Tbird fans... is this probably going to be a long year? Yeah... probably is. Are we probably going to miss the playoffs? Real chance that is true. That doesn't mean you should let the negatives consume you and block you from also seeing the positives when they happen.... like Parker netting two really nice goals last night on a snipe and a dangle or Alos getting his first goal, on the PP... or Muth setting up the first goal with a slick cut to the middle from the point with a nice feed from Sena. Winning is always more fun than losing... but anyone thinking this team was getting to 100 points this season was probably not being realistic.


Seattle grabs some defense...

The Tbirds yesterday traded away Robbie Newton to Swift Current for defensemen Scott Ramsay.

Let's talk about Newton first...

Seattle drafted Newton in the 4th round of the 2008 bantam draft but did not break camp with the team this season as a 16 year old. My feeling is that with Jacobs, Doty, Elliot, Alos and Muth already on the roster in the '93 age group and Sanvido still likely to join the team next year as a 17, Farwell probably thought they were pretty solid at the '93 level and could unload Newton to get a '91 defensemen.

This becomes more important with the news that the Tbirds also released Mitch Berg in their moves yesterday which left only Chaffin as a '91 back at the blue line.

Ramsay, 18, fought 13 times last year and already has one bout under his belt this season brings some added muscle and toughness to the Tbirds roster. Last season he added 3 goals and 9 assists with a -10 rating in 61 games.

So the TBirds turn a kid they probably weren't going to use into a defensemen they will have for at least just short of two seasons.... so I like it. If Newton turns out to be a nice player it obviously hurts a little but if he wasn't in their plans it made sense to get something for him.

Seattle also reassigned Jared Crema to a Junior A team they did not announced. I was a little disappointed by this only because we really didn't get much of a chance to see what Crema could do with him being injured for good chunks of the preseason and start of the season.


Stupid Part II

Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs' is your CHL Goaltender of the Week. Stopping 97 of 101 shots in two starts going 1-1 with a 2.01 GAA and 96.0 save %.

Another nice week...

Last time I checked... 57 saves and 0 goals... was a 0.00 GAA and a 100% save percentage.

Again... if I didn't think these awards were meaningless I'd be more mad. Poor Calvin...



The WHL Player of the Week award is pretty much as meaningless as most awards go... but in my opinion the WHL just rendered it pointless.

Jordan Weal of Regina was named player of the week recording 4 goals, 5 assists and a +6 rating in the 3 Regina wins over the weekend. Absolutely a great weekend for Weal and on most weekends that could certainly have been the award.

But... Let's get real here people... guys have 9 point weekends all the time, nothing new there. Pickard just did something that from what I can tell has never been done in the history of the league or at the very least in the very near past.

Calvin WAS nominated by the league for the CHL Goaltender of the Week award, so he wasn't completely left out for winning meaningless awards.

Seriously... I'd be a lot more upset if these awards actually mattered but not naming Pickard the player of the week is just ridiculous.

Goaltending Shutouts...

I haven't finished my "research" but I have checked every goalie who has appeared in the top 10 season shutouts going back to 2003-04 and checked each one of their seasons going back to the 1999-2000 season and not only is Pickard's 57 saves the best but it isn't all that close.

Last season's high was a 40 save shutout by Dustin Tokarski. After that... here is what it looks like.

Carey Price - 48 saves, 12/17/2008 at Portland
Real Cyr - 47 saves, 01/03/2008 vs. Vancouver
Joey Perricone - 46 saves, 10/25/2003 at Prince George. (Note: This was also the first WHL game Perricone ever appeared in... quite the debut)
Leland Irving - 41 saves, 10/07/2006 vs. Seattle

I'll keep checking... but I have a feeling I already know the answer. Calvin Pickard's 57 save shutout is likely a WHL record.

Also... I want to throw out a link. Online magazine InGoalMag linked to my story about Pickard's shutout right here.


Goaltending Records...

The Winnepeg Sun did an article today on Calvin Pickard's shutout. That article can be found here. In that article they are saying that Craig Anderson set the NHL record just last year with a 53 save shutout for the Florida Panthers.

I have a message out to Alan Caldwell to see if he knows the WHL or CHL record... we will see if anyone can figure out if the 57 saves will stand as a record. I would be shocked if there is a game with higher saves in a shutout.


More on Pickard

The more I think about last night the more amazing it becomes. I would be willing to guess that none of us may ever see a better statistical night for a goaltender ever... EVER. Think about that... we may have actually witnessed something last night we may never ever see again.

If Pickard isn't player of the week... someone at the league isn't paying attention. If he isn't goaltender of the week... I don't know what to tell you and if he isn't the CHL goaltender of the week somebody else better have gone 3-0 this weekend and have a couple of shutouts.

I thought the shot total was pretty accurate. I think there were some shots that were padded but I also thought they missed a couple... so if the real total was 53 instead of 57 would it really matter? No it wouldn't...

Also... Yeah I did think Charles Wells had a nice game and that nifty spin-o-rama was fun to watch but Sena Acolatse definitely should have earned the 2nd star. I thought his physical presence definitely excited the crowd and the deflection goal was not only huge but deflating to the Americans who had put 41 shots on the Seattle goal without scoring, only to see the Tbirds take the lead.

I'm only going to waste one short paragraph on this because I think we should be celebrating the performance of Calvin Pickard. That was still not a well played game by the Tbirds. The concentration just isn't there. You can tell in the passing... Tri-City passes are crisp and are received crisply. Seattle passes are hesitant, fumbled, unsure and just generally unfocused. The Tbirds just are not playing with confidence and it shows on the scoreboard. Allowing 57 (or even 50+) shots on goal is just a sin and it isn't always the fault of the defense. At times I thought the defense played well and at times the entire 5 (or 4) men on the ice just played entirely too passive. I can't recall seeing a penalty kill as passive as I did last night. Seattle almost crowded around Pickard and allowed the perimeter Americans to roam freely on the power play. Ok I'm done... I don't want to harp on it anymore.

I did think the effort was there... Early in the game Seattle appeared willing to put the work in that would have been necessary to win. It just wasn't working... I always hesitate to be an advocate of physical play because we are dealing with 16-20 year old kids here but I really believe the Tbirds need to be more violent.... not violent in the form of swinging sticks or being goons but just more eager to hit people and punish them into the boards. With the exception of Acolatse, Doty and a few others this team is just too nice.

That is all for this weekend... a big win for the Tbirds... even if it wasn't an impressive win. A win is a win and if we think this team is somewhere between the 6th and 9th seed in the Western Conference every win is going to be huge even if it takes a historical 57 save shutout from your incredible goaltender.

Btw... one last note. I searched everywhere for the NHL and WHL record for highest save total shutout and I couldn't find ANYTHING. If anyone finds anything or wants to do some research feel free to post it here.


Performance for the Ages...

An unbelievable 57 save performance from Calvin Pickard tonight leads Seattle to a 1-0 win at home over the Tri-City Americans.

With no game the rest of the weekend... let's just enjoy this tonight and I'll come back sometime this weekend with some additional thoughts.

Rare Weekend...

We have a rare, one Friday night home game weekend for the Tbirds. I'm not going to bother trying to look it up, but I cannot remember the last time the Tbirds had only one game for the weekend, it was a home game and it was on a Friday. I'd be on the lookout for some young hockey players having some fun tonight around Kent... haha

Quick preview of the Tri-City Americans. Going back several years the Americans have always had some of the strongest goaltending in the U.S. Division and arguably the entire league. For the first time in many years, goaltending is a bit of a question mark for the Americans coming into the season. A couple of 18 year olds are battling for the job with Drew Owsley getting the initial nod starting all 3 of the Americans games thus far posting a 2-1 record with a 3.16 GAA and an 89.5%. Brent Martyniuk came on in relief of Owsley in the last game, a 5-1 loss to the Chiefs.

I would expect Owsley to get the nod again tonight, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Martyniuk get the start if the Americans want to see how he responds to an opportunity and save Owsley for the game against Spokane tomorrow at home.

Three games isn't much to go on as far as evaluating a team, but so far the Americans have been very good at home and not so good away from the Toyota Center... Winning 6-1 over Kelowna and 4-3 over Portland at home before the 5-1 whipping in Spokane last weekend.

Offensively the Americans are led by their 3 O/A players Johnny Lazo, Brett Plouffe and Jarrett Toll. Lazo is off to a fast start with 5 points in 3 games but the offense is being led by Brenden Shinnimin who appears to be taking that familiar "step forward" in his 18 year old campaign as he has 9 points in just 3 games already, putting up 2 goals and 7 assists.

The Americans lost a lot from last season... losing their top three scorers in Procyshen, Reese and Fadden but appear to have some players ready to step in and take over and keep the Americans competitive this season. EDIT: Perhaps I should have mentioned losing Chet Pickard also? Pickard is 20 and could return but all indications are that he will spend the season with Milwaukee

I think Tri-City is probably the 3rd best team in the U.S. Division this season behind Portland and Spokane but I do think they are still better than Everett and unfortunately I think they are solidly better than Seattle at this point.

On the brighter side... the one thing Seattle fans have to look forward to... is that the more these young kids play the better they will get towards the end of the season. Don't underestimate the effect of missing players like Steve Chaffin and Erik Fleming. The team doesn't miss these guys as much as they miss a player like Thomas Hickey... but I thought both of these guys were ready to take a step forward and they have played a combined 1 game.


Stats Stats

Those of you who have followed my semi-coherent ramblings over the past couple of years... know that I am a big statistical guy.

Over at the Massey Ratings they calculate power rankings and make predictions based on complex mathematical equations (which I won't bother explaining/boring with here).

Stats can often either confirm or deny what we are seeing with our naked eyes watching these teams play and while I'm not saying that all stats are 100% predictive they do have the advantage of being able to "watch" all teams play.

Ok... having said that... we thought the Tbirds looked bad to us in the first 5 games? So did Massey.

Overall the Tbirds are rated 20th out of 22 teams in the WHL ahead of only Regina and Lethbridge. It then uses the rankings to make predictions on games and it "predicts" that tomorrow night's game against the Americans should be Tri City 3.3 Seattle 0.5 with the Tbirds having a 7% chance of winning. Yikes...

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