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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Many Musings

A bunch of thoughts on this past weekend that saw the Tbirds finally break their 15 game losing streak by beating the hated Portland CheaterWinterhawks. Let's just jump right to the bullet holes.

  • Friday night in Everett was a complete disaster from a results stand point but it wasn't necessarily a terrible effort by the team. Danny Mumaugh started in goal for Seattle and wasn't sharp. I still have hope/faith in his development but right now Mumaugh is over his head playing in the WHL. His movements are not efficient and his read/react to the play just isn't quite up to WHL speed. Please remember... it's rare for a 16 year old goaltender to come into the league and immediately be ready to play. Calvin Pickard's don't come along or happen very often. Mumaugh will benefit from the game experience he is getting and I hope it will motivate him to improve rather than frustrate him.  The first goal he gave up was a perfect example of where is at right now as he over-reacted to a shot that went wide of the net on the Power Play and was slow to recover to the backside where the shot was blasted in before he was even able to turn his head.  This isn't his fault... he shouldn't be in this situation but Justin Myles is still experiencing some head and neck issues from a car accident and Seattle doesn't have any other options right now. Russ probably should have acquired a backup goaltender at the deadline and sent Mumaugh back to Colorado to get more playing time... but for whatever reason that didn't happen.
  • Seattle played better than the 5-1 result. They fired 45 shots on Austin Lotz and they were bested by a good goaltender. I believe the television broadcast mentioned that they attempted around 75 shots and 45 hit the net.  Everett blocked quite a few and others missed the net. Sometimes that happens. The Tbirds also showed they weren't going to take their frustrations, tuck their tail between their legs, and limp away from the EEC by getting into 5 fights. Regardless of your opinion on fighting there is a time and place where fighting can mean something and I think Friday night was one of those times. The team was mad and frustrated and they weren't going to just take it.
  • Saturday... oh what a day. The way Seattle played on Saturday has to be the blueprint for every game the rest of the season. The sobering news is that they played about as well as they could and only beat Portland by 1 goal. One game doesn't change the fact that Portland is a really, REALLY excellent team. They might be in the middle of a 3 game losing streak currently but they are a team that should win the WHL and would have an excellent chance at winning the Memorial Cup.
  • Seattle forechecked relentlessly and that was the key to the game against the Winterhawks. Portland has an extremely talented defensive core led by guys like Seth Jones, Troy Rudkowski and Tyler Wotherspoon and the Tbirds were able to force them into difficult spots and force them to make quick and difficult decisions. When you pressure people, they have less time to find the right option and the perfect pass... something the Portland players do excellently. Seattle found a way to pressure them enough to force some turnovers and find the back of the net. Seattle outshot Portland 39-28. The last time Seattle out-shot Portland? You'll have to go back to January 28th of last year when the Tbirds out-shot Portland 54-47 and lost 8-3.
  • Brendan Leipsic, the ultra talented agitator from Portland, was awarded the 3rd star but did not come out of the locker room to receive his medal.  I've had conflicting reports about this. Some have said the three stars were late getting down to rink-side while at least one fan who I know sits right by the tunnel claims he saw Leipsic told about the star. I don't know all of the facts... so I'll stick to what I know... He didn't come out and I haven't seen that happen in a while at Showare. I would actually prefer to believe that the stars were sent down late and he wasn't told. I'd like to give him the benefit of the fact. Seriously. What I won't give him the benefit of the doubt on... is getting blown up by Jesse Forsberg only to come back and try to bait Forsberg into a penalty by hooking his knee after the whistle. Either take your hit like a man... tip your helmet and skate away or drop the mitts and do something about it. Super talented, probably smart, but not real brave.
  • Sunday saw the Tbirds take on Lethbridge and fall behind 3-1 before Coach Konowalchuk used his timeout to calm things down and re-focus the troops. Timeouts don't always work very well but in this case it worked to perfectly. Connor Honey scored about 6 minutes later and Andrew Johnson added another goal just two minutes later and Seattle had re-tied the game going into the 3rd period.  After taking the lead and extending it to two goals at 5-3... you would have loved to see Seattle clamp down late in the game and salt away the victory. Playing their 3rd game in 3 nights (same as Lethbridge) they weren't able to put the win away and were forced to take things to overtime. Seattle dominated the first 3 minutes of overtime, firing 8 shots on net but had to hold off a Hurricane charge in the final two minutes to get things to the shootout.  In the shootout... Luke Lockhart was the only scorer and Seattle managed to escape with 2 points and turn another potentially disastrous weekend into 4 points. My only question... Riley Sheen has some of the best hands on the team (arguably the best) and isn't selected in our top 3 shooters. I don't know if that is a "reward" system type of thing for Coach K but I find it hard to believe you have 3 guys better suited for the shootout than Sheen.
  • You know who is working his tail off and just not getting any "puck luck" right now. Alexander Delnov. He keeps playing like this and the points will come in bunches.
  • I think Connor Honey really IS this important to the team. The lost a bunch while he was out with an injury... he comes back and they win two. His scrappy hustle in infectious and his hockey IQ is excellent. His pass out from behind the net to Lipsbergs in the Portland game was an outstanding setup and I can't count how many times he has done that this season. Additionally... he fired a one time rocket past Ty Rimmer in the Lethbridge game to get Seattle's momentum going again.
Seattle is back in action tonight in Tri-City where they have not been very good the past several years... with the exception of the December 6th game where they snapped a long losing streak in Kennewick. The Americans are a solid team but they are a team Seattle has to target for points, even if it is a road game. They can ill afford to "punt" points the rest of the way if they want to make the playoffs and especially if the want to catch Everett for 7th place and avoid playing Portland in the 1st round.


Anonymous said...

Two steps forward and one step back...I can live with that. Pick it up for the next game, boys! We are still living the two games that you fought hard.

Anonymous said...

Your article on Mumuagh was bang on, For a kid his size he should be alot quicker, he is over his head here, But Russ sticks with his signed kids, Especially if they are American, so we are probably stuck with him no matter if he improves or not for the next 4 years. Last nite 5 goals on 19 shots between Glover / Mumuagh, this year we have 3 goalies .893 or worse save percentage.

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