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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Just a quick word about "Dump and Chase"

Tbirds fall to the Oil Kings last night 6-2. Seattle managed to mostly stay out of penalty trouble but Edmonton still managed to take advantage and go 3-3 on the PP.

Edmonton was just too tough for this team. Our talent level is just so far behind a team like Edmonton... I don't know what to say.

I want to take a moment to conduct a quick lecture on dumping the puck into the zone.

For several years there has been a common complaint that Seattle has a "system" of dumping and chasing the puck into the zone. It started years ago when Rob Sumner was Coach and now I've been hearing lately that the team plays the same "system" under Steve Konowalchuk.

Obviously, the team has gone through various levels of frustration over the past 10 years and has reached a crescendo over the past 4 seasons. With these frustrations, fans tend to over analyze things in an effort to explain what is wrong and explain why the team is bad. This is human nature... I don't blame anyone for doing or thinking that.

Fans have then tried to explain things away by saying that this "system" of dump and chase has to get thrown out and that somehow it is a coaching problem that plagues this team and franchise. But... here's the thing.

1) A certain amount of "dump and chase" is always going to be around in hockey. It's just smart hockey. You want to force the other team's defenders into spending energy chasing the puck back into their zone and facilitate the attacking team's forecheck while the other team has their back turned to chase the puck. If you watch other teams play against the Tbirds, they do plenty of dumping and chasing. But this isn't the primary point... the primary complaint is that we do this more than other teams.

Which brings me to...

2) Do the Tbirds dump and chase more than other teams? Guess what? They probably do. Is it a "coaching system" that causes this. Hell no... and here's why.  Anyone who has played hockey and specifically anyone who has played hockey against players that are much better skaters (or faster skaters) than them knows that dumping and chasing often occurs because the puck carrier doesn't have the requisite speed to threaten the defender around the edge without dumping and chasing.

This isn't a system problem. This is once again a talent problem.  We aren't fast. We don't have fast skaters and I was reminded of this last night watching Edmonton. You know why Edmonton doesn't dump and chase as much? They don't have to!! They were able to generate plenty of speed through the neutral zone with multiple passing options that also have speed! That allows them to make a pass, with speed, and beat or threaten the defender to the outside and open things up without having to dump and chase.

This is a talent issue (again) not a system problem. If you asked Konowalchuk I guarantee you he wouldn't prefer the dump and chase. I guarantee you that the dump in chase is simply the best option when you don't have enough skating ability to threaten defenders.


Hockey Talk? Sure.

Let's talk some hockey shall we? I know lately I've been very focused on the Hockey Challenge (and for good reason in my opinion) but with that behind me we can get back to focusing a little more on hockey.

One last note on the Hockey Challenge. My team still rules the roost. We raised just a hair over $31,000 for the Ronald McDonald House, which was the most of any team for the second year in a row. Overall, the event raised over $170k and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of it.

Seattle welcomes Edmonton to town tonight in the second to last 2 for Tuesday. The Oil Kings are the defending league champions and enter with a stellar 43-15-5 record... but they are coming off of 3 straight losses. They were beaten at home by Regina before leaving for their U.S. Division tour and they were beaten  in Spokane on Friday night and hammered by Tri-City 8-1 on Saturday night. They will be in Portland tomorrow night so you have to wonder whether they will be pissed off and treat this game like a tune-up or be looking past Seattle to the showdown with Portland tomorrow night.

Seattle has been dropping important points lately... so stealing a point or two from a team like Edmonton would actually go a long ways in the battle for the 7th seed.

I actually kind of expect the Tbirds to play well tonight. They typically have played better at home against quality teams outside of the conference.

Things get pretty tough for Seattle from this point out...

Edmonton tonight.
At Kelowna Thursday.
At Tri-City Friday.
Home for Tri Saturday.
At Spokane.
Home for Prince George.
Home for Everett.
Home for Tri.
At Portland.
Home for Portland.

I wouldn't want to be looking for points on the final weekend of the season playing against Portland twice... although Portland may have the top seed in the league locked up at that point and they will probably rest some guys.

We haven't checked the Massey Ratings in a while. Let's take a look.

Seattle checks in at 18th. Ahead of Regina, Brandon, Prince George and Vancouver (the team they just lost to 4-1 on Sunday).  14th in Offense, 20th in Defense.

This team clearly misses Connor Honey.  The team seems to noticeably play worse when he is out of the lineup.

Also... the number of penalties have to be reduced. These past couple of games they have been killing themselves with dumb penalties. Sure some of the calls aren't very good but they also can't ALL be bad. It's not as if Seattle is the only team that has to deal with the WHL officials.

In the past 2 games... they've surrendered 5 Power Play goals. That can't continue.

This team is just maddening because they can't seem to be consistent about anything. Once night it's the offense, one night it's defense, one night the effort is good, one night it sucks. One night it's goaltending, one night they can't hit the net... etc.... Put together just a couple of complete efforts and they can make it to this 7 seed and offer everyone a glimmer of hope.


Last Call Hockey Challenge

The Tbirds take on the Silvertips on Saturday in another very important game but it will also be the arrival of the Hockey Challenge 2013. My good buddy John Barr spends countless hours organizing our team and we have already collected over $25,000 as a team.

My team, Team IEB, plays at 1:55pm against a team from Vancouver called the Tiny Zamboni Hockey Club. The game will be pretty fast paced and skilled if anyone is interested in coming down to watch us. I'll be wearing #10 for the "Puke Green" team.

Also... I was asked to play in the Celebrity All-Star Team and will be wearing #33 for Team White in the game directly after the Tbirds game concludes. My team will include former Tbirds Brett Duncan, Blake Knox and Ryan Gibbons as well as former pro Doug Kirton and Celebrity Cameron Bancroft.

Team Blue will have Steve the Producer from KISW in net along with former Tbirds Jamie Huscroft, Danny Lorenz and Regan Mueller as well as Bill Wixey from Q13.

It isn't too late to sneak in some last minute donations in my name and in the name of Team IEB to make sure we raise the most money of any team!! Please see the link at the top and follow the instructions. Leave a comment for Team IEB and Tyler Hunnex.

I can't thank you guys enough for the support and the donations. This year has been extremely successful and I couldn't have done it without all the loyal fans that read this blog and follow the Tbirds.

Here is to a victory on Saturday for Team IEB, the Tbirds and Team White!!


Reality Check, Playoff Position

Ok... let's just back up a step (again) and let's try to calm things down and think about things rationally.

This argument between the "whiners" and the "apologists" is just ridiculous and I'd like to think that the readers of this blog are above this crap.

To the "whiners": Yes the team isn't good, the franchise is a loser franchise and hasn't even been moderately good in 5 years.  All of this is true and I would never deny it.  You accomplish nothing by coming on this blog and whining about things. If you have the guts... call Russ and complain directly to him. It's really passive aggressive to come on a fan blog and complain about the team after every single loss and then stay quiet after they win a game or two. It's hollow.

In the long term, should the Seattle organization compete with the big boys? Sure! There shouldn't be anything holding the franchise back outside of the decisions being made about players and personnel. On the other hand, expecting this team to compete with "anyone" THIS season? That's crazy. This team isn't that good. They aren't anywhere close to Portland and they have to play perfect hockey to compete with the top 5 or 6 teams in the conference. So I think it is perfectly reasonable to be happy with getting 5 out of 6 points against teams like Everett or Vancouver? Why you say? Because those teams aren't easy for THIS team to beat!! They had to actually play well to beat those teams.

So settle down a little. Nobody is telling you that you're wrong... you're just whiny. Everyone on here is well aware of how bad the team is and how bad the franchise has been for the last couple of years and there isn't anything any of us on here can do about it.

As for the "apologists": Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm not sure I understand why people come on this blog to complain every time the team loses... yet things are pretty quiet when the team wins... BUT... understand this.  This franchise hasn't been really truly good since the 1989-90 season. There is a reason why this fan base is beat up, skeptical, whiny, annoyed and quite generally pissed off after every loss and every losing season. A lot of them (myself included) have been watching the same mediocre crap (or lately crap crap) for a very long time and it gets quite tiresome to "wait til next year" every single year.

So I can understand the frustration of the "whiners". I just don't agree with the way they express it.

I stopped moderating comments a long time ago. I want fans to come here to voice their opinion and frustration. I don't always agree with it... and I wish the whiners would enjoy the WINS as much as they hated the losses (they don't) but I'm not going to stop them from doing it.

Now... let's actually talk about some hockey real quick.

The 5 points over the weekend were huge, as Seattle pulled 2 points clear of Everett and 5 points clear of Prince George. This is huge for two reasons. One, it puts Seattle in an improve situation to make the playoffs and no matter how I feel about the team making the playoffs just to get stomped... there is no question the franchise would benefit financially from getting back into the playoffs. The home playoff games are important and especially if Seattle somehow found a way to get more than 2 of them (obviously that's going to be tough).

Second, getting into the 7th seed (and keeping it) should make for a much more competitive series. Seattle hasn't sniffed a win against Portland with Carruth in net but they have played both Kelowna and Kamloops pretty tough at home (and been trashed on the road). Getting that 7th seed gives me some hope that Seattle might play either of those teams tough at Showare Center and who knows, maybe steal a game or two.


Seattle catches Everett, Marleau Jersey

By virtue of the 4-1 win last night in Everett, Seattle has now caught Everett for 7th in the conference. Everett has assisted the process by losing 10 straight.

This could be a huge development. While I wouldn't give Seattle a great chance to beat Kelowna (or Kamloops) in the first round of the playoffs should they earn the 7th seed, I give them a much better chance in that series than I do against Portland.

Seattle played with good energy last night, something that isn't always easy to do when facing a packed house at Comcast Arena. The game had a chance to get away from them when they nearly killed off a 2 man advantage and Everett took the lead 1-0 but they answered back and scored almost immediately to tie the game before Roberts Lipsbergs gave them the lead with just 13 seconds to go in the first period.

A big win for Seattle and a chance tonight to get points against a Vancouver team that beat them Friday in Kent. A win would get the TBirds 2 points clear of Everett.

Other notes - Please don't forget to donate to the Ronald McDonald House for the Hockey Challenge. Also, a good fan and reader of the blog has donated a 1997 road Patrick Marleau jersey (#14 his draft jersey) that is SIGNED by Marleau and is being raffled off by the Booster Club. Tickets are $5 and the money will be split between the Education Fund and the Ronald McDonald House. Check the Booster Club desk for tickets. I'm not sure if tickets will be available tonight but they will certainly be available on the night of the Challenge on the 23rd.


Donate for the Hockey Challenge

Just a quick note here. The most important thing going on right now, by far, is the Hockey Challenge is just a week away and there is still time to get your donations in. You guys know the drill, the link is above and remember to do me a favor and reference Team IEB, Tyler Hunnex.

Last night's game was an all too familiar sight. The difference was that last night was played against a team they really needed a win against. Vancouver is not a very good team (neither is Seattle) and yet Seattle just didn't play with urgency for most of the night. After jumping out to a 6-0 lead in shots, the Tbirds went flat for most of the game until Evan Wardley kind of got things going with a good fight and an even better/awful celebration. As we have seen many times before though... Seattle shot themselves in the foot as Danny Mumaugh misplayed a shot off the end wall and gave up the winner just 23 seconds into overtime. Mumaugh played well for the most part but he'll be kicking himself for the loss, especially the goal that tied it with a little over 8 minutes left in the game.

Sadly, we've seen this all season long. This team just isn't mentally tough and the margin of error is too razor thin to overcome mistakes.

They still have a chance to pick up points this weekend at Everett tonight and home to the Giants again tomorrow. At this point, I'm trying to come up with reasons why it all matters. Sure... they would like to make the playoffs but what would be the point in making the playoffs only to get hammered by Portland in the first round.  Everett made the playoffs as the 8 seed last year and got hammered in Round 1 while Seattle missed out and won the lottery and the rights to Mathew Barzal. I'm not so sure you aren't better off missing the playoffs at this point but I'm not sure Prince George is capable of really pushing Seattle out of the 8 spot.


Seattle vs. Calgary Game Thread.

Okay let's have everybody just take a breath calm down a little bit. Obviously none of us like losing and everybody's on edge a little bit when the team loses 22 of 25. Arguing with each other will most certainly accomplish nothing.

I can assure everyone that Russ isn't going anywhere. Like it or not. He's here to stay. Some may not like it but that's just a reality we have to deal with. I can also assure you that Russ and everyone in the front office wants to win. Nobody is trying to lose games. We can guess as to whether it ever happens with Russ in charge but I can guarantee that they are trying to make things happen.

Everyone take a deep breath and we will hope the team gets better eventually. Timetable to be announced.


Victoria Trip Thread

I don't have much insightful to say about these past two games that you haven't already heard. Barring a 3rd period comeback here Seattle will be swept in the season series with the Royals.

Same problems the past two nights... poor marking of offensive players in front of the net, not enough defense and not much capitalization of the chances they are getting. Same old story.


Hockey Challenge, One Point Weekend

I busted a finger over the weekend. Actually, I don't know that it is broken because of the swelling and I refuse to go to the doctor's but the nail is all mangled and my finger looks like a Jimmy Dean Sausage.

All this to say that typing is tough... so this will be short.

Please donate to the Ronald McDonald House in the name of myself and my team. The Challenge is less than 3 weeks away and it's time to push this total up.

As far as hockey goes... I thought the team played decent over the weekend. They held things together on Friday night despite stupid penalties and some questionable calls thanks to some solid defense and goaltending by Danny Mumaugh.

Saturday was obviously a disappointing result because based on reports they played extremely well for two periods and let things fall apart a little bit in the 3rd. Points are still points and at least games seem to be more towards the games we saw at the beginning of the season as opposed to the games in late December and early January. Every point matters from here on out... though I think the result of any playoff appearance is already a formality.

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