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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Ugly Win for Tbirds

When does a win feel like a loss? For me, it was last night as the Thunderbirds managed to get a 2-1 shootout win over the Everett Silvertips in front of a sold out crowd of 6,150 at ShoWare Center.  I really disliked how the Birds played last night and I think it is really going to be a challenge for Steve Konowalchuk to break some of the bad habits that continue to show up in some players. Normally I wouldn't be too worried about the first game back from Christmas break but the problem isn't the effort level, the problem is the way our "best" players are playing the game.  We might as well get straight to the bullet holes...and fair warning that this isn't going to be pretty.
  • We might as well start on a slightly positive note.  Good tilt between Mitch Elliot and Josh Caron. Caron is one of the few true heavyweights left in the league and I can't remember ever seeing Elliot lose a fight... until last night. Credit Elliot for taking on the 6'4" Caron and he hung in there and landed a few good shots, but he definitely received more than he landed, and as a result you would have to solidly give the win to Caron.
  • The Power Play was horrendous with Seattle going 0/4 with the man advantage. They had all kinds of trouble just getting the puck set up in the offensive zone. Once they did, they had trouble getting shots to the net. It was interesting to see Laroque get some time on the PP as well as to see Honey out on the point during at least one shift.  Honey actually made one of the smarter "under the radar" plays I have seen in a while: as he heard Pickard banging his stick to signal the end of the PP, he quickly reacted and shifted to get a 2nd defensemen on the ice for even strength.
  • Ok... truth time.  Burke Gallimore looks completely bored out there and seems completely disinterested unless he has an offensive chance. Obviously, that is just an observation (and I could be wrong) but I think a lot of fans would agree.  I don't think it's for lack of caring on Gallimore’s part, rather I think he has some chronically bad habits.  In addition to his lack of defense and general hustle outside of an offensive chance, his shots are missing the mark.  Gallimore (along with pretty much the rest of the team) is shooting to snipe and missing the net a lot. Smarter shots are needed. I don't know how to describe on paper what I mean by that... but shooting high and wide of the net with two players crashing the net isn't a smart shot.
  • Marcel Noebels:  I had kind of hoped that going to the World Junior Division I tournament might get Noebels back into the "team concept" and force him to quit trying to do so much on the ice and to use his teammates.... I was wrong. Back to the same #15 we saw early in the season. What happened to the Marcel Noebels we saw last year who played with humility, fire and passion.  Is he too comfortable after being drafted? Too much self induced pressure? No trust in his teammates? Arrogant?  Your guess is as good as mine.  If he keeps playing like this, his -17 rating is going to be -34, which is a crying shame to waste his talent.  Look guys and gals... there isn't a big mystery why Gallimore and Noebels are -16 and -17. Stats can sometimes be misleading but when you lead the team in scoring and you have the worst plus minus rating, you aren't playing good hockey (defense).
  • Branden Troock.  Let's build a little stew.  Take a base of #15, sprinkle in a little #22 and mix in a little "17 year old potion" and you have yourself a Troock Pot (wow that was bad) a lethal mixture of not so great hockey. Troock tries too hard to dangle and do too much on almost every possession, refuses to use his teammates effectively and the result is 11 points in 27 games for a kid who (in my opinion) is much more talented than that stat line. He might have some time to think about it now after leaving the game with a wrist injury.
  • How badly does this team miss the steady play of a guy like Brendan Rouse?
  • Kyle Verdino was out with an injury last night while Dave Sutter was away at the WJHC with Team Switzerland, allowing Evan Wardley to step in on defense.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  He was physical and gave Coach K some solid minutes last night and was rewarded with his first WHL point as he spun and threw a shot towards the net that caromed right to a wide open Gallimore at the bottom of the circle for the goal.
  • Also positive, I continue to like the way Colin Jacobs is playing.  Last season I felt like Jacobs was playing similar to the way Noebels is playing right now and I think Jacobs has completely turned his game in the right direction. If Jacobs can continue doing the little things like back-checking, going hard to the net, getting pucks to the net and using his teammates effectively, I think he could be in line for a very good second half.
  • Luke Lockhart continues to work hard but really isn't anywhere to be found. I can't help but feel like he is completely wasted on a line with Noebels and Gallimore.
Look, two points is always two points... but not all two points are created equally. Everett has won only 6 games all season (2 on the road, one was at ShoWare) and they were without their best player in Ryan Murray. If this team thinks they are going anywhere they needed to come out and absolutely bury the Silvertips in front of a crowd that was just begging to be entertained. Instead, we were blessed with more selfish hockey by talented hockey players who don't seem to be getting it.

Seattle is in Everett tonight for the back end of the home and home. I'll be heading up to Everett looking forward to seeing (hopefully) a very different team tonight.


Mr Tell13 said...

Great post on last night's game Tyler. I do agree that it was an ugly win. The t-birds were just lucky that the loser point went to Everett (who is, at the moment, out of playoff contention). I think you are right on with the player you mentioned. Its a bit disconcerting in Gallimore's case because I really felt like he improved on his back checking and attitude earlier this year. About Noebels's play, I am almost wondering if they are showing him to entice trade options. The coaches showed earlier this year that they were not scared to limit playing time on anybody "not getting it" and you look at the way Noebels is playing and that he played over 20 minutes last night, it makes me wonder.

I am really glad to see Jacobs playing again, he is one of theses players that you feel he really enjoy playing this game.

About Rouse, it is funny how this player, that some fans would call ineffective, is missing so much to this team. To think that in the beginning of the season he was on the 3rd and 4th line, played sporadically and still managed to produce a bit. Now that he as missed about 10 games, he is still in the top 10 scorers on this team. He is really an under appreciated player on this team.

Anonymous said...

Well, won't have to worry about Troock for a while. He got slashed late in the 2nd period. Heard he broke his wrist. At least we have another stellar former first round pick to fill the void...Sanvido.

Anonymous said...

Tyler, you said exactly what we were thinking. We left last night just shaking our heads. If that's the best we have to offer, this team is in big trouble. Also for the first time I had to wonder what coach is thinking. A C and a couple of A's out there on some sweaters that have us scratching our heads. Also I'd rather have a coach that rolls 4 lines. It's not about this year anyway. Give ALL the boys a chance to learn. My pet peeve, it's a team the team.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Noebels skate down to Pickard after the goal with the rest of the boys? Just another sign of what's wrong with his choices this season IMO.

Anonymous said...

Can we trade sanvido for farwell? Maybe they would each benefit from the change in scenery?

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with the post about A's C's and playing all 4 lines. Seems like coach wears out some guys while icing others. I. Ertainly do know what goes on in the lockeroom or at practice, but seems at least during the games that the "leaders" are not leading.

Anonymous said...

Tyler, They won when you were in Everett!!

Anonymous said...

Noebels a few more games before giving up on him. He only arrived from Germany Monday at practice time. I don't care how young he is he is still adjusting to an 8 hour time difference. He looked tired to me

Anonymous said...

since when is it expected that your leaders score? I recall a captain a few seasons ago that was a great leader but did very little scoring.

Anonymous said...

The choices about who is wearing an A or C has me scratching my head too. I don't expect leaders to score... I expect them to LEAD and to me that means attitude and effort, which hopefully leads to points, but often those points end up in another guys column....and for leaders that is ok.

Anonymous said...

The Winterhawks captain has a whopping 3 goals and 11 points this season.... Being a captain is more than just scoring. Its about leadership

brian in sherwood

Anonymous said...

Winterhawks captain is also a d-man, not a returning forward who had over 20 goals last season, playing on a line with the team's top returning goal scorer.

Anonymous said...

Lockhart, Gallimore and Noebels have not played together on the same line all season. The last 2 games have been the 1st time all 3 have been together on a regular shift. Gallimore and Noebels have been on the same line most of the season, but Lockhart has been stuck with Lund and Sanvido/Hickman most of the season.

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