Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail


Hockey Challenge 2014

Recent Articles


Here’s What I Saw

Some general weekend comments and then some comments on the players specifically. I did get to see all but the 1st period on Sunday as the brand new (not so new) NeuLion PPV system for the WHL was not broadcasting the first period of the game last night before finally getting fixed.

For the most part it was a pretty decent weekend. Friday night in Everett the Tbirds played a mostly solid game jumping out in front of the Tips 2-0 before coughing up the lead, regaining the lead, losing the lead again and finally making a mistake in the final minute of the game that led to a loss. Intensity was good, checking was good, the passing was decent in parts and the Power Play looked downright dangerous. Until…. They weren't able to convert on a 5 minute Power Play with 6:30 to play in the game and it seemed as though everyone in the building knew the Tbirds would be extremely fortunate to survive regulation after they could not cash in on the man advantage. In fact… I hate to admit that I turned to my buddy at the game with 0:51 left and remarked "It would seem bittersweet after how decent they have played… but I would feel really happy if we could get this game to Overtime." Unfortunately, 20 seconds later the Tips made sure the game didn't get to Overtime after a miscue between the Bobbee - Dillon defensive combination. To be quite honest, Seattle got what it likely deserved as Calvin Pickard made no less than 3 unbelievable saves to keep Everett out of the net. The score could have quite easily have been 6-3 in favor of Everett and Tbird fans would have likely left the building unhappy about the effort.

Saturday night the Tbirds opened their home schedule in grand fashion welcoming back my personal hockey hero Glen Goodall and picking up a well earned 4-1 win over a depleted Portland Winterhawks team. Let's not get too carried away thinking that Seattle might be better than Portland just because of this first home game. Portland was missing several key players who were away at NHL camps. There is no question that Seattle was the better team on Saturday night but I don't think any of us should think that Portland's roster is going to look like that a month from now. Certainly it was a fun night for everyone and we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the Tbirds won't be going winless against the Winterhawks this season.

Last night, Seattle looked tired in getting dominated by Tri-City. The players should be commended for staying with the program and keeping the game close into the 3rd period but when you look up at the scoreboard and at some point in the 3rd period you see that the shots on goal are 32-9 in favor of the opposition, you pretty much know all that you need to know about the game. Pickard again was, at times, brilliant in this game making 2 or 3 outstanding saves to keep the Americans off the board. This was another game where Pickard's play masked how truly lopsided it was and with a mere mortal goaltender in net the score could have easily been 6 or 7-1.

Quick run through the roster as it is listed on the Tbirds website:

Tyler Alos – Still hurt.

Jacob Doty – You gotta love a player like Doty who did his best to make it a 3 fights in 3 games weekend and would have had one if not for Everett's Campbell Elynuik turning down his fight offer in the game on Friday. Why Elynuik turned him down? You're guess is as good as mine. Even though you simply have to love a player like Doty, the simple fact of the matter is that he must improve his skating if he wants to be able to be anything more than a 4th line player. You can't question his heart, but right now he is still a work in progress. Having said that… I look forward to each and every tilt he will have this season. If Rob lets him go he could wind up with 30 fights.

Mitch Elliot – Switched numbers to #7 and I think he looks funny with a small number and he played with Sanvido and Jacobs.

Burke Gallimore – Gallimore kind of drives me crazy and I think he drives a lot of fans crazy. He has one hell of a shot and when he gets time and space to shoot there are few guys in the league who are more dangerous one on one with a goalie. The issue has and always will be whether he can stay focused and hustle all season long as last season he seemed at times to be disinterested.

Justin Hickman – Hickman is out until November but I did select him in the 2nd round of my WHL Sim league… so I'm pretty happy about that.

Colin Jacobs – I'm confused by Jacobs. I love his hustle. I love his swagger. I love his talent… so it pains me to admit that I think he is missing the killer instinct and I was again reminded of that last night when he was stoned by The Russian goalie from Tri (no I am not looking up his name to spell it correctly). Jacobs is still only 17, so it's not like I'm giving up on him… Expectations are a bitch and I just expected him to be more dominant already. I think there are times when he is just trying too hard to make things happen… trying too hard to make one last move instead of taking the simple play or just using his speed to take the puck wide.

Luke Lockhart – Without question he was the most improved Tbird on the ice this weekend. He looked stronger, scored twice and looks poised to be one of the breakout guys who could exceed 50 or perhaps even 60 points this season. He also wore the "C" for one game this weekend and he is without a doubt a Captain in the making.

Chance Lund – Saw one flash of speed from Lund in Everett on Friday and quite frankly didn't see much else. He either needs to get better or just start punching people if he is going to be useful. He is 18 years old now and the window for becoming an impactful player is starting to close.

Marcel Noebels – A lot of things to like about our newest German Import. He passes the puck very well and even kicked his way to an assist on Saturday night. In addition to already showing a really nice passing touch, his goal Friday night in Everett was a top cheddar snipe over the shoulder of Kent Simpson and was an absolute beauty. His chemistry with linemates Charles Wells and Luke Lockhart has already made them the team's top line and I think the chances of him registering more than 50 points is very good.

Brendan Rouse – I still really like Rouse's game, but unfortunately he is stuck on the 4th line with Doty and Ryan Aasman right now making it tough for him to contribute meaningfully. I'm shocked that he isn't on the 2nd PK unit, a unit that is currently positioned with Gallimore and Travis Toomey.

Connor Sanvido – Put a really nice backhand shot/pass on net in Everett on Friday night that led to a goal. The Jacobs/Sanvido/Elliot line just didn't seem to have the right chemistry for most of the weekend. I wouldn't be surprised to see that line changed.

Travis Toomey – I can't say I was blown away by his game this weekend but he did log a couple of assists including a nice drop pass to Gallimore on Saturday night for a goal. From what I understand he is a good locker room guy.

Branden Troock – Injured… might be a while before we see him.

Charles Wells – Rock solid start to the season by Wells. As I mentioned, the Wells/Noebels/Lockhart line was Seattle's best all weekend and he worked the PP and the PK well. Wells is going to have to be an absolute stud this season if the Tbirds are going anywhere and through 3 games he has 3 points and he is +3. Perfect Start.

Ryan Aasman – Played forward this weekend for the most part on the 4th line. Unfortunately, that is probably a sad indication of how the coaching staff feels about his play on defense up to this point. I have no idea where Aasman fits on this team going forward.

Austin Baecker – The Baecker and Erik Fleming pairing was the most dangerous pairing all weekend for Seattle… and by dangerous I mean there was a danger of giving up a goal. Ok, ok… that's probably a little too harsh but Fleming and Baecker were on the ice immediately following the Tbirds taking a 2-0 lead in Everett on Friday night and resulted in a goal cutting the lead to 2-1. Baecker also got himself into a situation where he was challenged by the 5'8" Tanner Olstad last night in Tri-City and while I give Olstad a lot of credit for having the guys to take on the 6'6" Baecker he was really lucky that Baecker didn't seriously rough him up in the fight. Baecker is still a work in progress but as an 18 year old, time is not on his side.

Travis Bobbee – The stats wouldn't seem to indicate it (0 points, -2) but I thought Bobbee was Seattle's best defensemen over the weekend. He generally makes smart decisions with the puck, he's a pretty decent puck mover and most of his shots are of the intelligent variety and tend to make it to the net and create rebound opportunities. I don't think his "poor stats" will last very much longer as he will log plenty of minutes on the PP.

Erik Bonsor – Bonsor was constantly living on the edge this weekend and I believe he still takes way too many chances. Travis Bobbee is what Bonsor should be but hasn't quite figured out how to do it. In some ways, Bonsor might be the key to the entire season. If he makes poor decisions that lead to goals this team might be in trouble. If he can tighten it up and play solid stay at home defense this team probably has a shot at the playoffs.

Brenden Dillon - Dillon will have to be counted on to be a rock at the back end for the Tbirds. I love his physical play and I think he is vastly improved from a couple of seasons ago but I also think he is still far too inconsistent. He failed to mark his man in front of the net on Everett's game tying 3rd goal on Friday and he was involved in the game winner with Bobbee. He is agonizingly close to becoming a really solid player, he just needs to shore up the mistakes.

Erik Fleming - I feel pretty much the same way about Fleming that I do about Aasman. I'm just not sure where he fits on this team going forward and now that he is 18 it's time to start making progress because time is running out.

Austin Frank – Got the big DNP this weekend. I'm honestly not sure if he is hurt.

Scott Ramsay – Still recovering from a concussion he suffered down in training camp. His return is uncertain and the fact that I didn't see him in Everett with the other scratched players is a bad sign.

Dave Sutter – Seattle's other Import showed flashes of talent sprinkled in with some uncertainty. For a guy who is 6'5" and 208 lbs he gets knocked off his feet way too easily but he also generally makes good decisions with the puck and was able to put together 2 assists and a +2 rating over the weekend. I think Sutter is the kind of player who will probably improve the most over the course of the season. By March we could be looking at a very different player.

Calvin Pickard – Picks was a stud for a majority of the weekend, something we have come to take for granted. He was able to keep several excellent chances out of the net on Friday and Sunday that gave Seattle a chance to win.

Michael Salmon – Didn't play. I don't like his new pads. He needs two stripes instead of just the one. Why do goalies not consult me on these things before they order pads??


Jon said...

No comments on Dillon?

Thunnex said...

Damn... how did I miss that. I will do an edit.

Anonymous said...

Sutter isn't listed as a minus on that 4th goal in Everett. Another whl site screw up? If so how the heck do they get any of the stats right?

Thunnex said...

I always acknowledge the possibility that I am wrong and it was at the far end goal from where we were at...

but I was pretty sure he left the back pass behind the net, thinking Dillon would go get it and it turned into a turnover.

Thunnex said...

I just checked it and I am totally wrong! It was Bobbee. My bad. I'm going to make another edit to correct.

You would have to question what I see when I can't tell the different between Sutter and Bobbee wouldn't you?? haha wow... I must be getting old.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Salmon could give a rats ass what you think about his equipment!

Thunnex said...

I'm 100% certain that he doesn't care.

Come on guys... let's not take things so seriously. I'm a "Vaughn" pad guy myself so he's still on my team as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

Tyler - It is great to have your insight. This team is giving us something to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

thanks tyler! your the best blogger seattle has!

Anonymous said...

Ummm, Baecker has not been on the ice where goal was scored and actually hes a plus one. Yes he is a work in progress but do your homework, he was injured last summer and did not play much hockey last year.I assumed Seattle wanted a stay home defenceman to help the goalie out. Seattle needs to give him more ice and you will see a new and up and coming Chara!

Thunnex said...

I remembered Baecker being on the ice with Fleming and the WHL boxscore says he was on the ice as well.

I'm not really sure how much more "homework" I can do than that.

Yes, he definitely has potential. Potential isn't worth much until you cash in on it though. I look forward to seeing him make progress.

Here is the boxscore link if you would like to look for yourself.

Anonymous said...

tyler .....

where are you???

Thunnex said...

10 day family vacation... follow up coming in the next few days.

WHL Scoreboard