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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Tips drop Tbirds

Seattle drops a big one to Everett last nigh 2-1. These losses are going to hurt down the stretch and I'm starting to lose a little bit of faith in this team's ability to get this done the rest of the way. Things are going to have turn around in a hurry if the Tbirds want to avoid another 2nd half tail spin.

Seattle came out firing on all cylinders to start the game last night and got an early lead courtesy of a nice feed by Connor Honey to Alexander Delnov who made a quick move to the backhand and beat Austin Lotz for the 1-0 lead. Taylor Green picked up the 2nd assist playing on that line and I thought he was decent again as a forward. Nothing spectacular, but I think he can give the team some useful minutes there. I noticed they also tried him on the PP for a short time as well.

Things seemed to fall apart after Seattle got the lead and Everett closed the period by closing the gap in shots. Momentum shifted for good after Everett tied the game and Seattle failed to capitalize on a 5 on 3 opportunity.

Quick side note: I want to once again point out to the faithful Tbird fans that yelling "shooooooooot" and thinking that simply "shooting" the puck on a PP actually works as an effective power play. It doesn't. I know this sounds quite simple but when you have more skaters on the ice than the other team, you should have the ability to obtain a GOOD shot... not just any old shot. Think back to all the times you've wanted players/teams to just shoot the puck only to have it blocked. Well... that's what the PK unit is trying to do. They are trying to clog the shooting lanes and keep shots from getting through to the goaltender. This is also why there tends to be so much room around the outside.  Seattle failed on the 5 on 3 chance... but it wasn't because they didn't "shoot", it was because they failed to get a good shot and Shea Theodore tried multiple times to hit the weak side post forward and wasn't able to get the puck there.

Bullet holes... because who doesn't like their quasi wisdom broken into neat little nuggets.

  • Branden Troock was back and looked both dangerous and rusty at different times. It was good to see him back out there though and if he can stay healthy he will definitely have an impact on some games.
  • Effort and Execution. If I were a coach, those would be the two things I'd be preaching to my team. We have to have effort first and execution second. Last night the TBirds get a B- for effort and an F for execution. There were stretches where I felt like Everett simply outworked Seattle but for the most part the effort was there. The execution was not. Too many shots that weren't one-timed on the PP and too many times where the shots came too late and Lotz had already had a chance to square up to the shot.
  • Evan Wardley... can't tip shots around the net. Block it with the body or get out of the way. That first goal should have never happened.
  • Alex Forsberg, brother of Jesse, has requested a trade out of PG and is going to play somewhere else until he gets a trade. His brother plays here, we have extra D, we have a hole in the 17 year old forward group. This just makes WAY too much sense.  Russ has probably already had a phone call with PG as I type this up.
  • Officiating wasn't very good last night but it wasn't why the TBirds lost. Stop whining about the officials people... this is a development league for both players and officials. You aren't getting an NHL crew out there. Stop Whining. Officiating is a tough job, sometimes it is done well and sometimes it is done poorly... just like how hockey teams play.
I don't have the heart to travel to Everett tonight after that game but I will be watching from the comfy cozy confines of the Hunnex basement. Seattle badly, badly needs a win tonight.


Back to Work Tonight

Seattle is back from the Christmas Break and back in action tonight at the Showare Center against the rival Silvertips. Everett isn't quite as terrible as terrible as I thought they would be (or hoped) and they've played pretty frisky against some tough opponents lately.  They lost at Portland 4-2 and followed that up by losing 3-2 to Portland at home. Before that they won at Tri-City in the shootout. I hate calling games "must win" games this early in the season but these are pretty critical games for Seattle.

The schedule is so tough that you have to take advantage of these match-ups against "lesser" teams.

Here is what the schedule looks like coming up:

Home Everett
Away Everett
Away Portland
Away Kamloops
Home Spokane
Home Spokane
Away Spokane (yup 3 straight)
Home Victoria
Away Tri-City
Away Everett
Home Portland
Home Lethbridge

Not a lot of games in there where I would consider the Tbirds to be favorites and that isn't a knock on Seattle, it speaks to the strength of the division and the conference. They simply have to get points out of these Everett games.

Seattle will be without Roberts Lipsbergs who is playing for Team Latvia over in Russia. I'm led to believe that Alexander Delnov should be back and there is a rumor that Branden Troock was going to play but I cannot confirm that and quite honestly I'm not expecting him to play.


Ams Give Tbirds a Big Fat Lump of Coal

Tri-City sent the Tbirds home for the holidays (about 9 days) on a sour note, sending them to their 5th straight defeat and 3rd straight home loss.

I don't think Seattle played that poorly... but that won't generally garner you wins and it especially won't garner you wins in this tough U.S. Division. Here are some general thoughts I had.

  • Generally speaking, I think Brandon Glover has played well for the Tbirds this season and his numbers would back that up to a certain extent. 3.78 GAA and .897 SV% on a team that isn't very good defensively are not horrible numbers. However, for Seattle to make the playoffs or have any hopes of making any kind of noise in the playoffs, they are going to need more out of Glover. The goal scored by McCue on the first shot of the game was a shot that he probably needs to stop and while I was in the car listening at the time... it sounded like the goal by Stromwall was a shot he should have stopped as well.  There probably isn't a more important member of the team than Glover for the rest of the season.
  • Taylor Green played up front for the Tbirds last night, playing Center and looking pretty darn good doing it.  The last thing Seattle needs is more skaters up front but Green might have a shot to fill the void left behind by Tyler Alos (not in terms of stats but in terms of the number of forwards). He had an especially nice rush where he took on 3 American players and got off a decent scoring chance.
  • Eric Comrie was excellent last night and I think you could easily make the case that he won the game for the Ams. He made several stellar saves and kept his team in the game despite being out-shot in the first period 14-7.
  • The pass Rouse made to Hickman on the PP for Seattle's only goal... what a beauty.
  • I thought the overall team defense was definitely better last night. I saw a lot of situations where 1 or 2 forwards were joining defenders in the neutral zone to break up offensive rushed by the Americans. That is the sort of thing that will keep shot totals down and help to improve the overall defense. Especially if Glover can get his A-game back on track.
  • Let's not forget that the Tbirds were without Lipsbergs, Delnov and still without Troock last night. All team's go through injury issues and I don't think anyone should use that as an excuse... but those 3 might be your top 3 scorers in a normal year and they are definitely in your top 5.
I still believe this team is capable of being "decent" this year but they need to start figuring things out pretty quickly after the Holiday break if they want to avoid the 2nd half struggles that have plagued them the past several seasons and that effort will need to be led by Brandon Glover and the return of Branden Troock.


Last Game Before Break

Don't worry folks... I'm back. I've been on a little vacation for the past couple of weeks. This has been a really weird year for me. I feel like I missed more games for various reasons than any of the past 5 or 6 seasons. Certainly the most games I've had to miss since I started this blog. I even have to leave the game early tonight to play in my own game.  Hopefully, things will start to get back to normal here as I don't anticipate missing very many games for the rest of the season.

Seattle will get set to hit the holiday break by hosting the Tri-City Americans tonight on a "2 for Tuesday". The Birds have generally played pretty well lately with the exception of games against Portland and the meltdown over the weekend (and the Victoria game I suppose). This team is much improved over the versions we have seen in the past couple of seasons but you can see the growing pains of a team that hasn't done a whole lot of winning and the learning process associated with winning some of these close games.

They still rank 11th in the Massey Ratings and I would tend to agree with that ranking despite the .500 record.  Teams in the 1 and 2 spots are Portland and Spokane while Tri-City sits in the 6 hole.  Seattle's schedule is quite simply, very tough. Where they should have been able to make up some ground was out on their Eastern road swing.

Losing to Brandon (21st), Regina (19th) and Swift Current (14th) are games that will probably come back to haunt them in the standings when they are faced with all of these division games the rest of the way. That's the bad news. The good news is that they still have 2 meetings with Prince George and 3 meetings with Vancouver. Those are games that they really "must" win.  They also "must" win most of the games with Everett but Everett has played better lately and those rivalry games are never going to be "easy" to win.

Hopefully the players haven't already mentally packed things up for the holiday and they can come out and get a big win over the Yams tonight.

Final Note: Seattle traded Reid Fritzke to Swift Current for a conditional 5th round bantam selection.

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