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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Hickey to have surgery

I hadn't noticed this... so thanks to a loyal reader for alerting me to it. Thomas Hickey will undergo shoulder surgery and will be out up for 4 months.

Definitely a blow to Hickey and his development although General Manager Dean Lombardi seemed to indicate that Hickey was in need of some additional strength... not sure exactly how we are to interpret that. Hickey has been in and out of the Manchester Monarchs lineup most of the season and had been trying to play through this injured shoulder for some time now.

Link to Rich Hammond's blog is here.



Nobody ever said I was good at predicting the outcome of games...

Seattle lets one get away...

With another Seattle/Portland game tonight down in the Rose City I guess I better get something up here.

I think I am in the minority with this opinion but I really did not think the Tbirds played poorly last night. The intensity of the game was as good as I have seen in a Seattle/Portland game in a couple of seasons and the Tbirds were able to ride an early individual effort by Prab Rai, another PP rocket from Sena Acolatse, another PP goal from Charles Wells and Penalty Shot marker from "suddenly sniper" Schappert.

As we all know, that would be the last time that Seattle would score and the Winterhawks would go on to score 5 unanswered goals to take the victory 6-4.

Call me crazy but I thought this had far more to do with Portland waking up and taking the game to Seattle rather than Seattle just giving the game away. Don't get me wrong, Seattle lost the game in the first couple minutes of the third where they still had the lead and came out flat and Portland was able to tie the game on a nice shot by Niederreiter just 42 seconds into the period. With the game tied, I actually thought Seattle played with a little more sense of urgency and had a couple of moments where they threatened the Portland net and narrowly missed retaking the lead.... Aronson got his second of the night, also the second of his career to take the lead with just over 6 minutes left ans Seattle was never able to tie the game.

Couple of throw away comments....

- Officiating was terrible last night. There were bad no-calls all over the place last night and after linesman Brooks left the game for an undisclosed reason (I'm going with the dreaded "stomach issues" personally) the 3 man crew that was left seemed to be out of sorts and did not call a good game. Seattle had 3 straight PPs to start the game... and then never saw another one. I hate complaining about referees though... it isn't an excuse for losing, we just all go to the arena hoping we see a well officiated game.

- Ian Curtis isn't very good. If Portland is hoping that Curtis is their answer in net on the way to a deep playoff run, well color me skeptical.

- Calvin Pickard is awesome.... we all know he is awesome... but for the first time in a long time (I can't even remember the last time I thought this) I thought Calvin wasn't his best last night. The first goal was an awkward weird goal and he gave up 3 others (that WERE nice shots) that I would normally expect Pickard to stop and he didn't. That doesn't mean it was his fault... defense still needs to be better and Seattle played with more defensive urgency against Regina with Jahraus in net than they did last night for Pickard.

- At the start of the season I thought Portland was one of the best teams we had seen in the Western Conference.... I no longer believe that to be true and I'm really pretty confused by the moved they have made in the last couple of weeks. I can't help but wonder if they have harmed their team chemistry just a little bit trading away Bobbee, Mucha and Reddin.

Hopefully the boys won't make me look stupid on this one... but I'm going to say it right here. I think Seattle wins in Portland tonight. They have played really well on the road, they have the sour taste from the last trip to Portland and I think the gap between the two teams has narrowed considerably since the start of the season.


Right in the Regina

Seattle with a really nice effort tonight beating the Pats 5-2.

A lot of good notes from the game tonight. Seattle played with a lot more intensity and a strong sense of urgency from the opening face-off all the way through to the end of the game.

Kyle Jahraus was solid in net and at times made a couple of spectacular saves. His rebound control was pretty darn good and he moved well and anticipated shots well.

Prab Rai with another 3 points night, Jeremy Schappert adds two more goals as he is suddenly a sniper. The defense was solid, played physical and the offense fore-checked with a purpose.

Regina entered the game with the #2 ranked PP in the WHL and the highly ranked Seattle PK shut them down to the tune of 0/5 with Charles Wells picking up a critical SH goal to give the Tbirds the 2-1 lead. On the other side Seattle gets 2 PP goals themselves on 7 chances but also surrendered 2 SH goals. They need to shore up the SH goals but the first one was a great effort by Mitchell where Warg just flat out missed the hit and the second really didn't matter as Scott Ramsay was trying to gain retribution for a high and hard hit on Sena Acolatse.

THIS is the effort we were looking for last weekend. If the Tbirds come to play with that kind of effort night in and night out... they are going to be very tough to handle the rest of the way.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone... back to the arena on Friday for a Portland team that suddenly can't remember how to win.

Regina Tonight

Regina when into Portland last night and won 6-3... so hopefully they are tired.

They'll have to be really tired because Seattle will be without their all-world goaltender Calvin Pickard who will be playing for Team WHL against the Russians in the Subway Super Series. I won't bother you guys with the rant about Series and how pointless it is... you can go to several other WHL blogs and find the reasons why it is so stupid and I pretty much agree with all of them.

Seattle will also be without Steve Chaffin who is listed as being out indefinitely with a concussion and most likely Brendan Silvester who I believe is probably still out with a back injury. Chaffin has to be a concern going forward with the number of concussions he has already sustained in his career. I don't know the exact number but I can personally recall 3 off the top of my head (no pun intended).

Regina will also be without two key players as Jordan Eberle and Colton Teubert. Eberle has 46 points in just 22 games already and Teubert is arguably their best defender, though I will say that Brandon Davidson's numbers are quite excellent (1 G, 21 A, +18).

Regina comes in at only 14-11-3 and their overall defense and goaltending isn't the strongest around. Damien Ketlo was excellent last night in Portland and faced 41 shots, so I half expect to see 17 year old Dawson Guhle in net tonight for the Pats.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the Regina jerseys... I think they are some most simple, best looking jerseys in the Dub.


Attendance numbers... quickly...

Not much of a surprise here...

For the sake of simplicity I just looked at the numbers from 10 years ago. Also... huge disclaimer... these are only the figures that get listed in the box score. I have no idea, nor would I have a way of knowing what actual gate numbers look like for the team.

Total average attendance -

1999-2000: 197,234 in 36 games for an average of 5478.72
2009-2010: 31,234 in 10 games for an average of 3123.40

Using just the first 10 games of 1999-2000, they drew an average of 5,265. That represents a drop of 40.68%.

Only fair though to look at how numbers are looking for the rest of the league.

Same first 10 games for other U.S. Division teams?

Portland is down 36.37%, Spokane is down 3.57% and Tri-City is UP 39.19%. I didn't bother to include Everett because the comparison would not have included the same time period.

Seattle's average is 17th highest in the league... but they are down 25.36% from their average last season (4184.8 last season, 3123.40 this season).

This represents the highest drop in attendance in the league. Lethbridge is off 19.93%, Red Deer 18.17% and Vancouver is down 16.34% but still average 6,444.

Tbirds attendance generally hits the bottom between November the end of December before picking up steadily through the end of the season. Meaning... it might get a little worse before it will likely get better.


Weekend Thoughts

Actually... this would be more of a Saturday thoughts.

TBirds played for 10 minutes on Saturday and then decided to go home. I just don't get it... what additional motivation do you need. In your own building, against a hated rival, making a push to get into playoff contention, riding a recent hot streak (maybe warm streak) and the players showed up for the first ten minutes and went away.

The got the go-ahead goal with the power play marker at the end of the first period but Everett had controlled the action up until the end of the period. After that... it was all Silvertips.

A disappointing result especially considering that Kelowna, Kamloops and Spokane all also won. All teams Seattle will need to hunt down in the next 4 months and they lost ground to all of them.

If this team has turned the corner... I'm not convinced. I've watched some road games but I haven't attended them so I don't have a crystal clear picture.... but the two games I saw at home Friday looked like the same old team that doesn't want to work, gets intimidated and backs down to opposition when they start to come at them hard.

As for this "attendance debate"....

I'm going to come back tomorrow and put together some stats breaking down the situation but I don't think it will really change my opinion on the subject. We all wish that more fans were coming to the game. We all wish the new building were sold out every game like Medicine Hat... but it isn't. There are reasons all over the place why this "might" be true but nobody really knows why the team isn't gaining more traction in the community.... lack of wins? lack of reader-board? lack of marketing?? I've seen a lot of marketing attempts by the team lately so I don't really think that is the reason.

We know the situation isn't as good as it could be... but I honestly don't know how to fix it, so I'm not going to spend much time worrying about it. Quite frankly... I like being able to park easily at the arena, get a beer easily, hit the restroom easily, etc. Is is fun when the building is packed? Sure... but I would enjoy watching hockey even if 500 people were in the stands so if anyone is looking for me to be a launch pad for criticising the front office... well simply put, I just don't see the point.


Winterhawks Trade Mucha

I'll have more on the Saturday game tomorrow but I noticed tonight that Portland traded Kurtis Mucha to Kamloops for a pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft.

This is both a weird trade and a sad trade for me.

Sad because as a hockey fan we had to watch Mucha for several years play hard behind Winterhawk teams that quite frankly sucked... Now Portland has a good team again for his 20 year old season and he gets traded... that is just sad. I feel bad for Kurtis Mucha.

Also weird... because why would Kamloops make this deal? I'm not saying that Groenheyde is awesome but he doesn't really strike me as the problem in Kamloops and that Blazers team isn't going anywhere. Why waste a Bantam pick to pick up a veteran goaltender when you are probably better off giving your 18 year old goaltender the vast majority of the playing time. Can Bonner possibly think his team was only a "goaltender away..." from turning things around?


Tbirds skate past Blazers 3-1

Solid effort from Seattle tonight... benefactors of NINE power play chances tonight, converting on two of them on their way to the 3-1 victory.

Tbirds definitely could have played a better game tonight but they also deserved the victory and was the better team tonight.

Blazers leading scorer Tyler Shattock received a boarding major and a game misconduct in the first period giving Seattle a 5 minute power play. I have to tell you... I think Shattock got jobbed here. I really didn't the hit was that bad and it was just extremely unfortunate that Chaffin was injured as a result of the hit. I'm not sure Shattock deserved more than a minor penalty and I'm sure the "result" of the penalty was the reason why a major was handed out. This is just plain wrong... and I see more and more of this going on in hockey these days. Referees should not be calling games based on the result of the hit and based on the actual infraction. I need to get the game footage tomorrow and take some more looks at the hit to see if maybe I didn't see it right.

The Tbirds scored on the resulting power play but quickly gave the lead back when Shane Wiebe stole the puck from Acolatse and Jacobs and made a nifty play to poke the puck between them and beat Pickard with a backhand at the far post. Great effort by Wiebe to give Kamloops a net even on a 5 minor penalty kill... but they weren't really able to build on that momentum.

Lindsay Nielsen got his second of the game throwing a shot in off the back of the leg of Blazers goaltender Jon Groenheyde in the second period and Seattle never really looked back. The Blazers spent so much time killing penalties (right or wrong) they really never really had many good chances to get back into the game.

Sena Acolatse finished the scoring emphatically with another rocket into the back of the net on the power play to finish the scoring. Acolatse has really grown into that spot and wow is he on fire right now. Eventually teams are going to see video and adjust to the shot from that spot and it will be up to Sena to adjust and exploit when teams finally start coming out to stop the rocket.

I really hope Steve Chaffin is ok... he was clearly shaken up from the hit by Shattock and if he doesn't have a concussion... well I would be shocked. I have no idea how many concussions Chaffin has had but this has to be at least his second significant one and I would be surprised if he wasn't out at least a couple of weeks... a real shame.

Seattle is back to action tomorrow night at home against the Everett Silvertips who were smashed by the Americans tonight 6-0 in Kennewick. Another chance for the Tbirds to show their progress.... they will need to play better against Everett than they did against 'Loops to come away with the victory.

4 straight at home...

Seattle starts a 4 game home-stand tonight against the Kamloops Blazers.

I always hate when people say games are "must win" and this game isn't... but it will be another measuring stick for this team to see where they are at. Kamloops is now rated 20th in the league and for the first time in a while the Tbirds are favored to win tonight. Massey places win percentage at 70%. It has been a while since the Birds were that heavily favored in a game.

With the Blazers still 3 points ahead of Seattle for the 8th spot in the West this is really a game that the Tbirds have to win. Games at this point of the season are not must win... but they can go a long way towards determining where you end up at the finish line.

The key for Seattle is to play a full 60 minutes. This team isn't good enough to take periods off but they are good enough to beat teams if they play a full game.

Kamloops is led by Tyler Shattock and CJ Stretch. Stattock with 14 goals and 16 assists in 25 games leads the team in scoring. Stretch isn't too far behind with 6 goals and a team leading 16 assists... but defense has been the problem for the Blazers as they have given up a league high 116 goals in their 25 games 4.64 goals per game allowed.

Simply put... if the goal horn goes off 4 or 5 times tonight we should see a Tbird victory.


Confusion Reigns

I kind of thought last night's game in Tri-City would give us a little bit of insight into whether the Tbirds were just riding a hot streak on their way to their 4 game road winning streak or whether this team had truly turned a corner and were looking to make a playoff push.

Last night did nothing to convince me of either one and I am left as confused as ever. The first 12:25 of the game was just awful with the TBirds regressing back to their old form. Defense took a backseat to players trying to hard to score goals and 3 penalties that lead to 2 American PP goals.

Easily the Tbirds could have folded up the tent. They were down 3-0 and out-shot 11-0 before ending the first period down 5-1 and getting the shots back to 16-14.

Fold they didn't... as goals by Schappert and Parker in the 2nd period cut the American lead down to 2 goals. Unfortunately, that finished the scoring as the Tbirds fell 5-3.

So what can we think?? For nearly 13 minutes, they played like the "old" team... while for the other 47 minutes of the game they outscored the top team in the league 2-0. We can't just look at the horrid 13 minutes and assume "oh the old team is back... the 4 game winning streak was nice while it lasted".... but we also can't just ignore those 13 minutes.

This team is getting closer to "getting it" and losing to the Americans, on the road, in your 4th game in 5 days probably isn't bad enough for me to toss aside the winning streak as a fluke.

This team has to play from the back to the front. When they take care of everything in their defensive zone, everything else will eventually fall into place.

Couple of things to note...

- Tanner Muth is showing his age a little bit. One of our more steady defenders at the start of the year... Muth is now -20 overall and -16 in his last 15 games. I hate to say "I told you so" but... well I told you so. Muth has an extremely bright future as a defender in this league but it's just too difficult to excel as a 16 year old. Very few players can be great in their 16 year old season and we are now seeing our young defender go through some growing pains.

- Quick note on the Dillon "discussion" that was going on. I generally think that numbers don't lie and his +1 one of the best marks on the team. One of the reasons why scouts loved him so much going back to the draft rankings had more to do with some of the technical footwork that Dillon has and not some of the negatives that he has also shown. If you watch how Dillon gets his feet moving he has some raw ability that is very difficult to teach. Obviously scouts also care about things other than footwork which is why you didn't see him get drafted after posting a -11 last season. Point being... some of the raw talent is there, we just need to see some other things as well.

- Jeremy Schappert now has 15 points in 25 games and has already surpassed his career high of 13 points, which came last season. I think it is safe to say that this scoring touch is no fluke and with his 5 goals all coming in the past 9 games I think he has unlocked some offensive ability... not to mention that he is +7 for the month. For all of the Schappert haters out there... is there any doubt who Seattle's best overall defender is right now?

- The curious case of Colin Jacobs. After grabbing a goal and 2 assists in the season opener against Everett, Jacobs now has only 2 goals, 5 assists and a -16 rating in his last 23 games. The strange part is that while I am a guy who thinks that numbers don't lie... I don't really feel like Jacobs has played that poorly. I'm going to predict a breakout for Jacobs in the near future. I think he is doing the right things, playing the right way and the numbers will eventually catch up.

- I might get tired of pointing out how good Brendan Rouse has been. 3 Goals, 11 assists, +2 rating in 15 games... and it feels like he wins just about every face-off.

Tbirds get back home Friday and Saturday with another pair of benchmark games at home against Kamloops and Everett. Two games that Seattle really needs to get if they want to keep these playoff dreams realistic. I was shocked to realize this... but Seattle has already completed over 33% of their schedule. The old adage that "it's still early" is quickly going away.


Notes from a Happy Monday

Calvin Pickard is your WHL Goaltender of the week. This is the second time this season that Pickard has taken home such an award. Hopefully this time Calvin can take home the CHL Goaltender of the week.

I will say again... I don't really get too worked up over these awards but it is nice to see players rewarded when they deserve it.


Latest Massey Ratings are out and (surprise!) the Tbirds were the biggest mover in the league for the week.

Seattle moves up from 21st to 15th overall.

Offense is still ranked 21st but they have created a gap between themselves and Prince George while closing in on Chilliwack and Lethbridge in that measurement.

Defense moves up to 10th in the league.

Seattle fell all the way to 20th in home ice advantage... but I had better explain that one before anyone gets confused. The "HA" measurement in the Massey ratings is used to show the difference in a team's performance at home versus at home. Thus... being low on this list isn't really such a bad thing. For a while... the Tbirds were #1 in HA, which meant that more than any other team in the league they played better at home than they did on the road. That's what 0-7 on the road to start the season will do that to you.

So a ranking of 20th in home ice advantage now just means that the Tbirds have performed pretty equally at home and on the road.

So far the Tbirds have played the 3rd toughest schedule in the league and if you take the current rankings of their remaining opponents they will have played the toughest schedule in the league by the end of the season.

This is largely due to the fact that the U.S. Division is maintaining as the toughest rated division in the WHL.

Big this week will be to see if the Tbirds have truly become a different team or are merely riding a hot streak. You don't need to win in Kennewick tomorrow, but you need to compete and be close. Then you need to beat Kamloops at home on Friday and probably beat Everett at home on Saturday as well.

More stat dumps...

Seattle has moved up to 16th in Power Play and maintain near the top in Penalty Kill at 3rd.

Amazing... with this 20-3 stretch... the Tbirds have still been outscored 84-59 on the season.


Perfect Weekend...

Tbirds just finished off a perfect weekend by beating the Giants on the road 5-0.

I honestly do not know what to say... I am speechless... or wordless. I really didn't think this team was capable of winning 4 in a row on the road against some pretty quality opponents.

Raise your hand if you thought a team that went 0-7 in their first 7 road games was going to go into Chilliwack, Kamloops, Everett and Vancouver and simply dominate. They outscored those teams 20-3 in those games.

I really don't know what to say guys... this is awesome. I have no choice but to revise my opinion on this team. It is pretty early in the season to be looking at standings and placements for the playoffs but this team has already caught Chilliwack for 8th place in the Western Conference. They aren't very far behind Kamloops for 7th and even Kamloops can now see the Tbirds a little bit in their rear view mirror for the 6th spot.

Simply an incredible weekend of hockey for Seattle.

See guys... I know what I'm doing by not going to game in Everett! One day... I'll see a win in Everett.



Where did that come from??

I wanted to just throw down some quick thoughts after the game last night as the Tbirds crush the Blazers in Kamloops 7-2.

What a game for the Tbirds who are suddenly riding a 2 game winning "streak" after also earning a point down in Portland and playing Spokane tough at home 8 days ago.

I didn't get a chance to see or hear the game last night... the Monkey radio feed was not working and I have seen that more than a few other people had the same issue last night.

This team is starting to put things together... but I'm not quite ready to jump up and down excited just yet. Let's see how they play tonight in Everett and tomorrow in Vancouver. If they win both games on the road and go 3 for 3 for the weekend I might have to change my opinion about this team.

Per usual... I will NOT be going to Everett tonight. As some of you might recall... I have never witnessed a Seattle victory in Everett. No sense trying to jinx the boys now while they are on a little mini roll.


Tough Stretch

Really tough stretch of games for the Tbirds starting tonight in Kamloops.

Tonight's game actually represents probably their best chance to pick up a victory. Kamloops is a strong team, but hasn't played well lately going 2-8 in their last 10 games and going through a coaching change.

Using Massey Ratings... Kamloops is the 16th rated team in the league (Seattle is 21, ahead of only PG) while Everett comes in at #5, Vancouver at #9 and Tri-City checking in at #1.

The good news is that I think the Tbirds come into the game playing their best hockey of the season and if there was ever a time for them to take on the best in the West... I think now is the time.

Pick up a win in Kamloops and you never know what kind of momentum you might be able to take into Everett. Unfortunately, I also think the configuration of these games might hurt Seattle. I don't know this for a fact but I believe they are coming home after the game tonight before the Everett game tomorrow. Figuring time for a quick meal after the game... the Tbirds won't get back into Kent until early morning tomorrow. Sleep in a little before heading back up north to Everett. That is a tough turnaround.


The Great Portland Screwjob of 2009... or not?

I devoted a good chunk of time going over and over and over the video from the Portland game on Saturday night and I think we can address some of the issues that came up from it.

One question Thom got out of the way on the pregame show.

Q: Why did Rob not call timeout when there was obvious confusion by the officials over the time left on the clock.

A: This is a pretty easy one. Timeouts are not allowed to be called back to back... since Portland had called their timeout to set up the face-off, Sumner could not call a timeout.

Ok now let's cover the sequence of events... listed by seconds left in the game.

22.8 - Wells throws the puck at the empty Portland net and rings it off the post. Two inches to the left and the game is effectively over.

19.0 - Portland gains possession and heads up the ice.

14.7 - Nielsen breaks up the rush but Portland maintains possession.

12.0 - Aronson works the puck into the zone.

10.5 - Chaffin gains control and chips off the glass. Aronson puts just enough pressure on Chaffin that he can't get more that a chip out of the zone.

5.0 - Rutkowski has passed the puck to Francis and you can hear PBP announcer Ian Furness say "5 seconds left" but actually by the time Rutkowski releases the puck there is 3.7 seconds left.

3.7 - Puck leaves Francis' stick and heads towards Pickard at the net. 4 Winterhawk players are roughly even with each other just above the circles spread across the zone.

3.0 - Pickard makes the save in the butterfly position. Referee Zalaski can be seen already having the whistle up to his mouth, likely in anticipation of a whistle.

2.6 - This is a very key number for obvious reasons. At 2.6 seconds Pickard has the puck saved in the butterfly position. 3 Winterhawk players are in the high slot ALL 3 players appear to still be slightly above the hash marks which is about 22 feet from the goal and roughly 16 feet from Pickard. Zalaski has the whistle in his mouth but the linesman has not yet made a move.

2.3 - Linesman makes his first stride towards the net. I've been told by hockey people that generally speaking linesmen are like robots, they move when the whistle blows and generally not before so this is a decent indication that Zalaski probably had blown the whistle between 2.3 and 2.6 seconds.

Quick break for a WHL rule check.

Second 32.2 of the WHL Rulebook states... "As there is human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening. In the event of any dispute regarding time or the expiration of penalties, the matter shall be referred to the Referee for adjustment and his decision shall be final. He may use the Video Goal Judge to assist in rendering the final decision."

So... here is what I'm thinking. The clock actually stops at 1.7 seconds and before the puck is dropped the linesman tells Zalaski something to the effect of "we need to check the clock". So Zalaski goes to the video judge and discusses. I'm not sure if he actually can see the video from the ice level but I have to assume that when he looks at the tape he sees that the whistle goes to his mouth around 2.6 seconds and says 'that is where I deemed that the play has been stopped' and decides that 2.6 seconds is where the clock should be placed.

However... the catch here is the Zalaski never looks at anything! He goes over to the scoretable talks to them briefly, then goes and says something to Sumner... Sumner then motions to his team and if I am reading lips correctly says "two" as in Zalaski just told him that they were adjusting the clock to 2.0 seconds. Moments later the clock is actually adjusted to 2.0 seconds..... but the linesman does not drop the puck right away and waits momentarily as the clock is adjusted up to 2.6 seconds. It appears though that Zalaski all along had known the clock would be reset to 2.6 seconds because they all stand around and wait until the clock is moved to 2.6.

So the clock now sits at 2.6 seconds. I stop-watched the time from puck drop to the time Zalaski points at the goal over 20 times yesterday and 7 more times today. Of the 7 trials I did today... my average with the stop-watch was 2.397 seconds. This is from puck drop to right before Zalaski points to the goal. If I wait until Zalaski points... I get around 2.6 seconds. So as far as I can tell the puck goes in before the clock reads 0.0.

I had a fellow fan breakdown the video into individual frames of the video and by conservative measures it appears as though the goal probably went in with about 0.5 seconds left on the clock.


I think Seattle has a legit gripe on a few things... If indeed Zalaski had blown the whistle with 2.6 seconds left, why was the whistle so quick with skaters still approximately 16 feet away from the net. With Portland calling timeout... why did it take so long to establish what the correct time is? Shouldn't Seattle be afforded the ability to know how much time is left on the clock well before Zalaski finally informs Rob Sumner at the bench... just a few seconds before the actual puck was dropped? With Portland having called a timeout... stripping Seattle of the opportunity to call a timeout themselves and set up their own strategy... the Tbirds were really given the old bait and switch tactic thinking they had 1.7 seconds left on the clock while the timeout was going on only to have nearly a full second put back on the clock and no time to change their strategy.

Having said that... by any honest measurement... it appears to me that the clock was likely correctly set to 2.6 seconds and the goal was correctly scored before 2.6 seconds had expired.

The average auditory reaction time of a human is .14 - .16 seconds and it took the Portland timekeeper anywhere from .6 - .9 seconds to actually stop the clock. This didn't cost the Tbirds the game... but is just simply poor execution.

Fault the timekeepers for a poor job, fault Zalaski (perhaps) for a quick whistle... but from my perspective they probably got the clock right and they probably scored the goal in enough time. Just a fluke goal in a fluke situation that cost the Tbirds a point.



Considering how the season has gone so far and how the Tbirds had looked before Friday... this weekend has to qualify as a huge success.

Seattle played well Friday before losing essentially a one goal game to Spokane, played another pretty good game down in Portland only to lose in a shootout after leading for 59 minutes of the game (more on this later) and another nice effort last night in Chilliwack in a game that actually was quite important for early in the season.

The win in Chilliwack was big not only for the lack of success on the road but because the Bruins are currently sitting in the 8th spot in the Western Conference and Seattle does not have very many head to head opportunities to gain on them in the standings.

The clear key for the Tbirds will be whether this new level of play will now become the standard or whether this team is just going through a decent stretch of hockey before falling back into their old habits. If this team can play the way they did over the weekend I believe they can catch Chilliwack for the 8th spot.

Couple points of emphasis...

- Nice to see Sena Acolatse on the scoreboard twice (EDIT - three times) this weekend. His goal on Friday was an absolute rocket and is exactly the type of situation the team is looking for with Sena manning the blue line on the Power Play. The goal obviously is to get him set up for that shot more often on the PP. Credit to Rouse, Lockhart and Jacobs on that play for some nice action to set it up... especially Colin Jacobs who made the unselfish play to fake the shot and make the extra pass to Acolatse for the blast.

- What's not to like about this Rouse kid??? He wins faceoffs, he plays pretty solid in his own end and has now chipped in 8 points in 11 games to go with a -2 rating.... and he could have had more as James Reid robbed him on the doorstep right before the goal by Acolatse. Rouse was a big part of that goal and wound up with no points to show for it.

- Nice to see Prab Rai with a good game last night. Rai had 4 points and was +1 for the weekend. When he is going good this team will be a lot tougher to beat.

- Also a really good weekend for Jeremy Schappert who had 5 points and +2. Schappert now has 11 points, 2 points away from matching his career high from last season when he had 3 goals and 10 assists. Schappert had been very aggressive early in the season looking for chances to chip in offensively but had not enjoyed a ton of success until this weekend.

- Ah yes... THE Portland situation. Tell you what... I didn't get a chance to see the game so I'm going to go purchase the archived game footage and devote a separate posting specifically to the situation. So I will hold off commenting on this until later today or tomorrow.


Tbirds fall short against Spokane

Seattle drops a 3-1 decision to Spokane last night at home in the Sho.

Overall I actually thought it was a really good effort by the Tbirds especially in the first two periods. Seattle was the better team last night and it isn't too often the better team loses the game... but a combination of a poor third period and a nice goaltending effort by Spokane's James Reid kept the Tbirds with only the single power play goal before Blake Gal eventually gave the Cheifs the go-ahead and game winning goal.

Seattle earned 6 Power Plays last night and I thought it was a pretty good indication of how hard the Tbirds were working, forcing Spokane into situations where they reached and picked up penalties.

Truth be told I thought Spokane played like a team that figured they could just coast through the game and still pick up the victory (and perhaps they were right?) and Seattle took advantage through the first 40 minutes.

The third period was a bit of a different story as Spokane out-shot the Tbirds 18-6 and moved the pressure from their own zone and into the Tbirds zone. Spokane finally broke the tie with a nice pass by Mitch Wahl to a wide open Blake Gal who finished nicely in the corner past Pickard... a defensive breakdown by the Tbirds.

Gal was a pest all night long and wound up with the GWG and a +3 night.

This was a poorly officiated game from start to finish and the crew of Benbow and Raphael should be really disappointed with their game.... culminated by an absolutely atrocious non-call on a trip against Acolatse which gave the puck right back to Mitch Wahl who went the length of the ice for the empty net goal to ice the game. Just an unreal no call. You should not reward teams for not moving their feet and reaching for the puck and Spokane was guilty of it all night long and that penalty should have been called.

Coach Rob Sumner picked up a bench minor in the protest and quite frankly I thought he showed restraint in not throwing a water bottle or jumping on the ice himself. A terrible call at the most critical time of the game.

Overall though I am very encouraged by what I saw last night. The effort was mostly there, the decision making was better and the Tbirds generated some opportunities while the defensive breakdowns were far fewer than we have seen so far this season. If the Tbirds can continue to play like that the wins should come a little more often and perhaps the team can get back into the playoff race.

Seattle is back to action tonight down in Portland where the Winterhawks have actually been shutout two games in a row and will no doubt be smelling blood with the Tbirds coming to town.


Boys are back in town...

I've been a pretty bad blogger this week but quite frankly there hasn't really been anything going on in Tbirds land.

Seattle gets back to work tonight for their 2nd straight 3 in 3 weekend. This will be the 3rd "3 in 3" weekend of the season for Seattle. Tbirds have NINE of these such weekends over the course of the season.

The big news around the hockey world this week is the season long suspension for Erie Otters player Michael Liambas has been suspended for the remainder of the season for his hit on 16 year old Kitchener Rangers defender Ben Fanelli. Fanelli was left with a fractured skull among other things but has been upgraded to stable condition and moved out of the ICU and into a private room.

With sincerity I really hope the kid makes a full recovery and is able to resume his career... it was a nasty hit.

My question is... does the punishment fit the crime.

Here is the video...

From what I understand Liambas has a history of getting in a little bit of trouble in the OHL but I'm not really sure he deserved to be suspended for the rest of the season. Looked to me like Liambas stopped striding several feet from the hit, kept his elbow down until after the hit and Fanelli had an unfortunate combination of turning away from the hit and having his helmet knocked off in the collision with the boards that might have led to an increase in the severity of the injury.

I want to be very careful not to be insensitive to Fanelli... it is always scary when a player gets hurt like that, much less a 16 year old kid going up against a 20 year old kid on a hard hit behind the net.

I'm just not entirely convinced that it was even a penalty much less a season long suspension.

What do you guys think??


Birds are home...

Tbirds arrived back in Seattle late last night after their long 9 day road trip and they could certainly use a few days of rest to hopefully get all the sick kids healthy again.

For a recap on the game yesterday... there is no better place to look than over at Jeff Bromley's Ice Chips blog and you can find it here.

Also of note today...

Tbirds 1st round draft pick Brandon Troock was named to the Challenge Cup All-Star team... at this point we would say that this bodes well for his future and I certainly liked how he looked in camp this year.

All-Star announcement can be found here.

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