Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail


Hockey Challenge 2014

Recent Articles


Rough Weekend

Rough weekend for the Tbirds as they drop two games to the Tri-City Americans. Some notes on the weekend.

- I wasn't able to catch the game in Tri on Friday night, though I suspect it looked a lot like the game Saturday night at ShoWare. Seattle just looks tired and/or lazy right now. I'll try to relate this as best I can as someone who plays a little bit of hockey. Some nights you just can't get your feet moving. Your brain tells you to skate hard but your feet and energy level just don't seem to have the ability to get things moving. That is what Seattle looks like right now. A team full of guys who, for whatever reason, just can't get their feet moving right now. I'm not sure if they are tired, lazy or most likely a combination of both... they just simply look slow right now.

- This "tired" is showing most obviously in two aspects. Shots and penalties. Friday night they were out-shot 48-23 and 20-3 in the 3rd period. They also gave up 10 PP chances with the Americans cashing in on 2 of them. Saturday night the shot total was a little bit better, ending the game at 33-26 but that doesn't really tell the true story of the game as Seattle was out-shot 19-7 in the decisive 1st period that saw Tri-City jump out to the 4-0 lead. In addition... they took another 10 minor penalties that resulted in PP chances for the Americans (scoring twice again). The officiating in Saturday's game was not good, Matt Kirk is supposed to be one of the best in the WHL but Saturday was an off night for him to put it mildly. However, the problem is... Seattle isn't really giving officials very many chances to give them the benefit of the doubt when they aren't moving their feet. In summary... Officiating was bad but so was the Seattle effort and I'm far more concerned about the effort than the officiating.

- On paper it looks like Michael Salmon struggled on Saturday night in his first game filling in while Calvin Pickard is away at camp for Team Canada but that doesn't really tell the story. Of the 4 goals I saw (I bailed after the 2nd period, it was too gross to watch) I would only categorize the 4th goal as being "soft" and even that shot came through a partial screen and just squeezed through the 6 hole (between the arm) of Salmon. Salmon has improved so much since the first time I saw him play down in Portland last season that he should be commended. I think with some regular playing time here while Pickard is away and you're going to see some nice performances.

- It's official. Dave Sutter has become the new fan whipping boy... but in all honesty I don't really understand why. Sutter was terrible on Saturday night, there is no excusing that, but let's call a spade a spade. We knew all along that Sutter would likely be a project and overall he is still a +4 while logging some pretty significant ice time. Is he good yet? No. But the key word there is "yet". Did fans expect Sutter to come in and immediately become Scott Jackson... er... maybe that' a bad example since he is a former fan whipping boy himself. Fans probably need to adjust their expectations for the big Swiss defender. I'll make a deal with you guys. If he is still having trouble at this time next season, he'll deserve the wrath and I won't defend him. For now... let's give him time to develop before we start dumping on the kid.

- I was asked by a fan via email about the trade that Tri-City completed on Friday, picking up Carter Ashton from Lethbridge in exchange for Nils Moser, Tanner Olstad and 1st, 2nd and 5th round bantam selections. Every season I'm asked about whether Seattle will make a big splash in the trade market and most seasons the fans are disappointed with the "smaller" moves that are made by General Manager Russ Farwell. Well, if you are disappointed by "smaller" moves I think you're going to be disappointed again this season. Even though you would probably never get Farwell to admit this, they are likely playing for next season and any moves getting made this season will be made without having any large impact on next season's roster. The biggest move I could see them making might be a move of a 19 year old. So why would they move a 19 when I just said they wouldn't make a trade that would impact next season? Because with four 19 year old players on the roster they could trade a 19 year old and get back an 18 year old they like for next season and not completely disrupt the roster.

One thing is for sure though... they are most certainly NOT punting this season away. I think everyone in the organization believes that it is very important from a progress and morale standpoint to make the playoffs this season. If you fancy yourself a contender next season, you would prefer the first playoff game of the 2012 playoffs not be the first for most of the kids on your roster.

- Speaking of playoffs. Seattle currently sits in 7th position in the Western Conference but they are only 1 point out of the basement. The race for the playoffs in the West has likely never been tighter than it is this season.

- Quick Massey Ratings check again. Seattle sits in 13th overall. Offense 18th, Defense 6th. Home-Ice Advantage is 21st, which surprises no one with the way they have played at home vs. the road lately. Things should theoretically get a tad easier as they have played the #1 toughest schedule in the league. Massey Ratings


Anonymous said...

Not sure how Sutter becomes the whipping boy. The reality is that the whole defense is playing badly again and look like they have fallen into old habits. But Sutter has surely outplayed Ramsay and Fleming so I'm not sure what game some people are watching. I'm also not a fan of keeping Jacobs on the PP teams are attacking him and Dillon on the point and creating lots of odd man rushes the other way. Unless he can get his shots off quicker or the team in general starts vastly improving on it's puck movement then we are in for a long frustrating season again.... All in all right now I will just take one solid home ice effort feels like so long.

Anonymous said...

Alright, alright! I'll quit bagging on Sutter. :) You're right, though, he's not the only problem on D...but man, Saturday night was rough.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know anything about Troock's condition?

Anonymous said...

I tend to chuckle at the sentence/thought that Seattle is playing for next year. Next year (2011-12) they will be playing for the next year. The year after that they will be playing for next year and so on and so on. It gets really old that at some point in time this franchise can't field a legitimate contender. Oh well, as a Thunderbird fan I will have to call finishing in top half of the west a successful season. But, lord only knows when that might year?

Anonymous said...

The closer shot totals Saturday night were more a function of Tri playing a pretty good road game. Get up 2+ goals as quickly as possible, then clog the nuetral zone, and collapse in their zone to protect the goal. You're right, the first period shot totals show it. After the first, Tri backed off and didn't play very agressively. Unlike others here, though, I like the future and I think next year is going to be a giant leap forward.


Thunnex said...

Yeah... I know everyone gets tired of the whole "wait until next year thing..." but I think that is ignoring facts and circumstances just to try to make a point.

First off... I don't believe that last season I ever said "wait until 2010-11"... I think everyone expected this team to finish last int he US Division and have actually played better than expected overall.

Second... in the Key Arena days fans often deeply discounted how financially strained this team was. They really couldn't "afford" to miss the playoffs and as a result the moves that GM Russ Farwell made usually revolved around ensuring they were competitive year to year and they never really went through a true "rebuilding" year where they traded assets for the benefit of future years (like they did last year).

I would like to believe... that going forward... if ShoWare does anything for the franchise, it gives them the ability to go through the natural cycles that most teams go through.

What's frustrating for fans is seeing teams like Vancouver who seem to consistently be good year after year... but they are most certainly the exception and not the rule. Even Calgary is down this year, Portland was historically down a couple of years ago and three seasons ago Saskatoon missed the playoffs.

So yes... I hate saying "wait until next year" but I think that is ignoring the facts and circumstances. I will say right now that if they don't make a run at the WHL title next year with a 19 year old Pickard it will be a disappointing year.

Anonymous said...

My real fear this season is what has happened to the team lately. We watched them play as a strong unit out of the gate and that play seems to have taken a step back to the way they played last year. I'd rather see progress, see a team get better as the season goes on. So I'm just going to say it, I'm starting to question Robs ability to get this team to listen to him. It's like they have blocked him out and not buying into his program anymore. It's sure brutal to watch.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment, remember last year in the first half of the season, we won like 4 or 5 games in a row, went into Vancouver and beat them during that streak, then we just went into a tail spin we could not get out of. These three games before the break will probably not make or break the season, but they are a critical stretch to right the ship at this time of the year.As for Rob, I would like to see the team go in another direction there, who, I don't have any ideas.

Anonymous said...

During the radio broadcast last Friday versus Tri, Tom said on 4 to 5 diffrent occaisons during his broadcast the T Birds were "Lifeless" How can these guys be lifeless at this time of the year at this point of the season with the teams jockeying for playoff position and the US and western conference bunched up? The birds could have made some type of statement but it was the wrong one getting man handled both games last weekend.

WHL Scoreboard