Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail


Hockey Challenge 2014

Recent Articles


Tbirds Split Weekend

Sometimes I just don't feel like writing until the end of the weekend. I was able to watch the game at Calgary on Friday and listen to the game in Cranbrook last night.   The Tbirds were able to split the weekend and return home after a 2-4 road trip, a bit of a mixed bag over the weekend. Here are some thoughts... none of which you will hear me calling Calvin Pickard "overrated".
  • Friday night's game was very entertaining and saw a flurry of goals scored in the first period, followed by both teams buckling down a little bit and providing some intensity in the final moments.  In the end, Seattle was able to escape with a 5-4 win over the Calgary Hitmen.
  • Saturday night's game was pretty entertaining as well, as the Tbirds were able to keep the game much closer than the 5-1 final indicated.  This was essentially a two goal game in the third period with Seattle hitting no less than two irons that could have made it a one goal game or tied it up.
  • Justin Hickman is starting to find his groove.  In my opinion, Hickman has played hard all season and just hasn't had very many points to show for it. Since Thursday, we saw Hickman come through with some tangible evidence of his ability as he notched two assists on Thursday, two goals on Friday and another goal last night. I think Hickman has a chance to be a very good power forward in this league as things are starting to come together.  He must stick to the excellent game plan of fore-checking hard and creating those opportunities by disrupting the opposition's defense.
  • Brendan Rouse had an excellent road trip, registering points in each of the 6 games (2 goals, 5 assists).
  • I haven't held back my criticism of Dave Sutter lately. I think he takes too much flack overall but lately the flack has been pretty deserved.  Sutter had an excellent game on Friday night chipping in an assist and going +3 but then reverted back to a -2 last night. I think this is pretty much what you are going to get from Sutts, some good nights and some bad nights. He is still 3rd on the team (among regulars) in plus/minus, and I think more significant faults can be found in other bodies on this team.
  • Shea Theodore was back in the lineup Saturday after sitting out two games in a row. I'm not really sure whether they were HS's or whether he was a little banged up.  Either way, he was back last night and Hauf was the one to sit out.
  • Daniel Cotton continues to do a fine job filling in for Pickard when called upon.  His 27 saves last night didn't seem to be the reason for the loss.  Thom Beuning mentioned on the radio broadcast that perhaps Pickard has been trying to do a little too much in net and I think that is a bit of an accurate statement.  I can attest to the fact that when your defense isn't playing well you tend to resort to crazy things in net.  It is easy to focus on things that you shouldn't, overreact to certain situations, and find difficulty concentrating on stopping the first shot and controlling the rebound.  Pickard is a NHL caliber goaltender and his numbers have been extremely consistent over his WHL career.  I have no doubt that they will be similar by the end of the season. Cotton's time will come but that time is not here yet. Pickard is your starter, no controversy here.
  • Chance Lund got off to a great start to the season but has faded a little bit as of late, which leads me to wonder if he's been working through an injury. His hustle was back on Friday night in Calgary as he helped kill off the end of the game when the Hitmen pulled the goalie in an attempt to tie the game. Lund also created another scoring chance where he just powered past the Hitmen defender.  
  • Sean Aschim has 2 points in 4 games since joining the Birds.  So far, I like what he has brought to the table.
  • Brad Deagle has one of the most incredible lip sweaters I have seen on a player in recent years. Everyone needs to check that caterpillar out before Movember is over.
Seattle now returns home for a 4 game home-stand starting Friday night against the Tri-City Americans and Saturday against Portland.  


Anonymous said...

After watching the games this past week,few observations:

Looks like the line combinations are settling in with Rouse centering Noebels & Hickman, Lockhart cenering Gallimore & Lund. The other 2 lines are still changing a little with Alos & Aschim being the centers. I think this has helped Rouse's game in particular. He was relegated to the 4th line until this road tri[p but he has earned the upgrade. Lockhart is still struggling but hopefullyhe will be able to get going. PP & PK were both awful most of the week. Looks like the PP is doing something different that isn't working & the PK has been a little unlucky. Overall I still see a good effort & I believe there is still potential for this team to be much better by Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Wow...where do I start.

Pickard is a NHL caliber goalie. No, he was but now he isn't. Blame who you want. The lack of defense or his work ethic. Last year I spotted a lot of week goals scored upon him to include his bobble head night. His current status of allowing five goals in 17 to 22 shots does not make him a NHL quality goalie regardless of lack of defense.

OK, so Pickard's problem is due to lack of defense. Let's explore that. Sutter is NOT to be blamed and he is being judged unfairly. OK, if not Sutter, then who can we blame? Again, I go back to last year (wife has me on a tight budget where I can't even get a .99 cent refill at AM/PM by her) so I am assuming this years team, which is doing worst than last years at this point of the season, showed that Sutter was soft in getting the opposing team out of the crease, hitting anyone, and making a decent pass. I concentrate on Sutter because he was supposed to show the most talent.

Finally, a fourteen shots in game is not an improvement from the previous games. This team was dialing it in during that last game.

Wish I can see potential. All I can see is the continued lackluster performance that we all blew our money on last year (not a sth but did pay for 14 games for family of four.)

Someone needs to light a fire under these kids butts. So far, nothing has been working. If this team has talent, as I have been reading, then the lack of effort falls on someone.

Anonymous said...

Good night for the Thunderbirds tonight! They had the night off...I kid...I kid.

What will inspire this kids to play to their potential? Sarcism?

Thunnex said...

Let's just agree to disagree. I appreciate the fact that you read the blog and you are so passionate about the Tbirds. I don't like the losing any more than anyone else does.

I feel pretty confident about my opinion. I have watched hundreds (if not more) hockey games, played hockey growing up, self-taught myself to play the goalie position as an adult and I've personally witnessed probably 90% of the games that Calvin Pickard has played.

If you want to throw out a handful of game... almost any goaltender is going to look bad. You say bobblehead game... I say 57 save shutout of Tri-City.

I understand your position, but you aren't convincing me to change mine.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous Pickard Hater:

Trust me Pickard is a NHL caliber goaltender. Every goalie has an "off night" or a rough performance. Just because he gave up 5 goals does not mean he had a rough game. I notice you remember every soft gaolie he lets in, but that is part of the game. I think he is just pressing. As a winterhawk fan, I would take Pickard over Carruth anyday.

Brian in Sherwood

Anonymous said...

This weekend should tell us a lot. If they bonded, learned anything on the road swing it better show up this weekend...because it's not going to be easy vs Tri and portland.
Hope they practice their passing in the next few days. IMO that's been one of their glaring weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

My prediction: Birds go 1-1 this weekend. They will get rolled by Tri-City but play a tough, thorough game and beat the Winterhawks by a goal.

Anonymous said...

"Lip sweater" literally made me LOL. Nice.

Anonymous said...

Pickard WAS a NHL caliber goalie. Now, his lack of play, either from choice or lack of defense has shown that he is not. Last year was brutal enough, sure the D was terrible, but I expected more from a high draft pick.

We can talk all night long about the lack of defense. It is terrible but we expected more from the goalie. Last year, how many times was Pickard pulled? This year, how many times? Cotton did a good job during his recent start, there is no reason to say the split in goalies can not be more equal. Pickard has proven that he will not win games in this league with this team. Hate him or not, trade him or not, but he needs to sit more than last year.

I'll be honest, having the team have 40 plus shots vs 20 shots is not a winning combination. There might be a shock value in seating the NHL caliber goalie down to show a team that more is expected.

Anonymous said...

The ONLY reason Pickard has been pulled this season is because we have a new coach. Rob NEVER played anyone but Pickard no matter how many goals he gave up. Has nothing to do with his play.
It's all about what the defense isn't doing. Giving up the puck in front of the net time after time is hanging the goalie out to dry. No support there. Failing to clear the puck constantly gets the same result.
Pickard will be just fine once he can trust what's in front of him on a regular basis.
And it's all for naught if we can't put the puck in the net.

Anonymous said...

To the ...'I expect more from a high draft pick' guy:


WHL Scoreboard