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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Power Plays and Winning %, a chance for me to Nerd Out!

A comment from the previous game recap got me thinking about something.  The comment related to the fact that Seattle cannot afford to continue giving up Power Play chances to these good teams and expect to win.

Of course, this makes sense. The more chances you give a team like Portland to score with the man advantage the more dangerous they are going to be. Pretty simple hockey there.

That led me to looking at the fact that Seattle has only had 65 PP chances compared to 79 they have given to their opposition. This represents the 2nd worst mark in the league ahead of only Kamloops who have a putrid 62 PPF and 97 SHA (yikes).

So I began to wonder whether these things were correlated to winning. Do teams that maintain a poor ratio wind up losing in the long run and vice versa do teams with high ratio's tend to be the better teams.

Let's take a look at the current season first.

Translation: So far in 2013-14 the ratio of your PP chances to the number you surrender just doesn't seem to matter. On one end you have Kamloops (bad), Seattle (good) and Calgary (good) and on the other side we have Kelowna (good), Med Hat (good) and in 5th we have Brandon (under .500).

Teams are only about 16 games into the season so we really have a sample size that is too small. Let's look at previous years.


Translation: Wow... I did not expect this. In 2012-13 it really did not matter whether you netted more Power Plays than you gave up. In fact, the correlation is slightly negative. Generally speaking the better your ratio the lower your winning % was.

In fact, the number of Power Play chances you had mattered very little as well. Teams like Portland had a bundle of chances and a good record while the Kelowna rockets had a fantastic record and finished below average for chances.

Short Handed chances seemed to matter just a tad bit more and had a slightly stronger correlation but I wouldn't call it significant. Calgary gave up the most chances in the league last year by far at 367 (next closest was Saskatoon at 334) and both teams had winning percentages above .650 while Prince George surrendered the 2nd fewest chances at 260 and they were still terrible with a win percentage of .347.

Some people will hate this because they don't subscribe to statistical analysis but there just doesn't seem to be much evidence to support the theory that special teams matter very much.  They might matter a little bit but the evidence would suggest that it doesn't matter as much as we may have thought.

What does matter? File this one under the "Captain Obvious" category but the teams that score more goals and keep the puck out of their own net more often have better winning percentages. Hockey is a very complicated game but at its most simplistic level you have to score and you have to play defense.


11-3-2, Tbirds reclaim 1st

Seattle ran their record to 11-3-2 with a 4-2 win over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings.

Seattle reclaims 1st place in the U.S. Division and 1st place in the Western Conference with the win. Their 24 points moved them 1 point past rival Portland (23 points) and sets up a showdown on Friday night at Showare Center.

A few notes I had from the game, let's go straight to the bullet holes.

  • Branden Troock was back in the lineup, his injury from the other night must not have been too bad.
  • Seattle won the game with pace and hitting. I know that seems a bit strange to say but when the Tbirds are throwing the body around and being physical they generally win and that was certainly the case last night. There were so many solid checks that I lost count.
  • The biggest and most controversial check of the night was landed by newcomer Jaimen Yakubowski (Quick side note - look here Jaimen, that name is wayyyy too long when I'm trying to bang out tweets so we're just going to call you Yak. Good by you? Good by me.) I have to admit that my initial reaction was that it was *probably* a headshot since Taylor Green is 6'7" and his helmet popped off. In real time I think it's a pretty difficult call to make and I wasn't the least bit surprised to see him given a 5 and a Game for the hit.  I was later told by a few different people that they had seen the replay during the 1st intermission and thought it was a pretty clean shoulder to shoulder hit and that Green's helmet popping off was just a circumstance of a big hit and Green's head snapping back on the hit. I have yet to find video of the hit but if I can find it we'll analyze it. I'm guessing it will hit Hockey Fights in the next few days.
  • I know we talk about how good Mathew Barzal is all the time... but I just can't get over how elite his vision is. His puck control and ability to skate with the puck and then deliver a great pass far more often than not is just super impressive.
  • Erik Benoit has a nifty little saucer that sprung Seth Swenson on a breakaway and resulted in a penalty shot. Benoit won't get credit for an assist... but he should.
  • The reports I had received on Yak and Sam McKechnie (Geeezzz... we're going to have to find a shortcut for that one too) were generally glowing. In addition to the comments left on this blog by a Lethbridge blogger I had been told by several people that what they really liked about Yak and Kech (doesn't feel right) was their ability to score "greasy goals". They were hard working types that didn't try to do too much and just played the game the right away and that resulted in points. McKnee (that's terrible) did exactly that last night, going hard to the net to poke in a rebound for his first Seattle goal. More to come, including a better nickname. (Mickey? meh.)
  • That was a pretty nifty empty net goal by Shea Theodore eh? Picked up the loose puck in his own zone and banked it off the glass and all the way down the ice to seal the victory.

Fans tend to think of things in exacerbated terms and I think some fans are going to place a little too much importance on this showdown with Portland on Friday night. The reality is, it's nothing more than another measuring stick of where this team is at. Portland started a bit slow with the players they were missing at the start of the season but have since reeled off 8 straight games and have showed once again that they are likely to be the class of the Division and the Conference. Friday will give Seattle another chance to see whether they have improved enough to truly compete with teams like Portland. 

Let's also not overlook the fact that Seattle goes up to Everett for their first match-up of the year. A crowd north of 8,000 is expected on Saturday night and Everett always plays Seattle tough in their own barn despite the loss of starting goaltender Auston Lotz to an ankle injury.

Big weekend for the Tbirds but let's not think these are "must-win" games yet.


And another move by Seattle

Welcome Jaimen Yakubowski and Sam McKechnie to the Thunderbirds.
Both are 19 year old forwards.
They were Lethridge's two leading goal scorers last year.

Yakubowski played in 66, scoring 32 goals and 18 assists.
McKechnie played in all 72 games, scoring 26 goals and 17 assists.

These two players were sent home last week from Lethbridge to await a trade.

From Gregg Drinnan's blog
“We talked to all the veterans, the coaching staff and myself and in discussion yesterday and right up to today we made the decision that these two players don’t want to be here and at the request of their families, agents and themselves and with discussion with them today, they want to be moved.
“So it was best for the hockey club that we have the players here that want to be here and the players that don’t want to be, we’ll move them.”

One could assume they did not see eye to eye with new head coach.

So Seattle adds 2 more 19 year old forwards, bringing the total to 7.
Add in 3 more 20 year olds, and that is a very veteran lineup.
Seattle has now even further deepened it's forward core.
Before this trade, they could roll all 4 lines, and put a ton of pressure on other teams.
Now, there is no question they can.

What did Seattle give up?
Riley Sheen, Carter Folk, and a 3rd round pick in 2015.
I personally actually thought Sheen would be moved when Gropp was added.
His ice time was going to go down more and more.
But then he went out and had a huge weekend, so I kind of changed that.
But, to get talent, you have to give talent.
We haven't seen much of Folk.
The team must have thought highly of him to keep around this long into the season.
When we saw him, he was a tough hard-nosed player.
A 3rd round pick is generally a good pick, but can also be hit or miss.

So overall, I love this trade.
We give up some future in Folk and the pick.
We give up some current in Sheen (who possible could have been back next season).
But we gain two proven goal scores.
And most of all, we announce to the rest of the league that Seattle is in it this season.

Minority Owner Dean Street dies

Per Thunderbirds Press Release, minority owner Dean Street has passed away.

Street was a member of the current ownership group for the past 11 years and was a big supporter for the Hockey Challenge event getting off the ground.


If you give up 50 shots, you're gonna have a bad time Mmmmkay?

Couple of thoughts on the games over the weekend.

Friday night Seattle appeared to be in control of the Prince George Cougars late in the game when Ethan Bear put home his first WHL goal. Bear took a feed at the far post from Justin Hickman and forced it past Ty Edmonds to give Seattle a 4-2 lead with just over 3 minutes to play in the game.

The problem was that Seattle was still giving up way too many shots and eventually it came back to bite them. The Cougars scored just seconds later to cut the lead to one and scored the tying goal on a scramble with just 56 seconds to play. I thought I saw Troy Bourke's shot go straight into the corner of the net before coming out and then trickling back over the line... but either way the game was tied at 4-4 and Seattle would eventually lose in the 6th round of the shootout.

Seattle is much improved this season but this game goes as a painful reminder that you cannot give up 50 shots against and expect to win. Seattle has to get a lot tighter on defense and keep shots away from the net.

Danny Mumaugh played well but also gave up too many rebounds and those rebounds were not often enough cleared out of the area by the Seattle defense. The Cougars had the extra attacker on for that game tying goal but that's the situation you have to defend when you're up a goal at the end of the game.

The frustration was magnified by a missed opportunity by Seattle to cash in on the empty net. Seth Swenson carried the puck down the left side and made what I thought was a smart play by dumping the puck into the corner. Unfortunately, Seattle was offside (I believe Riley Sheen... but I admit that I can't remember) and they were forced to tag up.

Speaking of Sheen, he built on his fantastic game on Wednesday with another fine weekend. I thought he had a little extra jump in his step and his hard work paid off with a goal on Friday and a goal and an assist on Saturday against Swift Current. With the addition of Ryan Gropp, I kind of wondered whether Sheen might be a potential trade target and he's making a strong case for the team to keep him or for another team to trade for him.

Evan Wardley returned to action Friday night and looked healthy. He tossed around a couple of big hits early in the game that got Seattle going after a sluggish start.

Saturday was more of what I'm going to start calling a "taking care of business win". Swift Current clearly isn't as good of a team as Seattle is but that doesn't mean they aren't capable of giving you a tough time in your own building and that's exactly what they did in the first period.

Seattle was unlucky hitting at least one post and one crossbar while the Broncos threw a shot on net that caromed off a skate or a stick and straight over the shoulder of Justin Myles.

The Tbirds stayed the course though and put 19 shots on goal in the 2nd period on their way to 4 goals.

The Broncos did manage to cut the lead from 3 to 2 to 1 with just over 10 minutes to go in the game but Seattle did what they couldn't do on Friday night and buckled down and TCOB. Jared Hauf got a rare goal (his 2nd of the season) with a laser that soared over the shoulder of Landon Bow. Justin Hickman then finished the scoring on a beautiful passing play from Roberts Lipsbergs for the 6-3 final.

I mentioned on twitter that I felt like this had a lot more to do with the Broncos making mistakes than Seattle playing excellently but teams that fancy themselves as contenders have to punish teams that make mistakes and Seattle did exactly that.

Shots were much better Saturday night with Seattle holding favor at 43-28 and Hickman was an assist away from another Gordie Howe hat-trick for the Tbirds. Mathew Barzal ran his point streak to 8 games with an assist and a +2 rating and is now +10 on the season with 19 points in 13 games.


As most of you know... I'm a stats guy and one of the few places that compiles statistical rankings on the WHL is the Massey Ratings. From time to time I'll provide some updates on what the Massey Ratings are saying.  This doesn't mean that the MR's are the gospel but if helps give us a landscape of the entire league.

The latest Massey Rankings show Spokane as the top team. This isn't too surprising given the Chiefs 10-3 record (Massey takes out OT and SO results and just calls them Wins and Losses).  Kelowna is #2 followed by Portland, Everett and Seattle! Tri-City at 5-9 actually comes in ranked #9.  Wondering why Tri-City ranks so high despite their 5-9 record? Look at who they have played... Spokane, Prince George, Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Seattle, Everett, Victoria (#6), Kamloops twice (won both games), Seattle, Portland, Victoria and Portland again.  They have played some tough teams early and unsurprisingly their schedule is ranked as the toughest so far and the toughest going forward.

Also... not surprisingly the US Division is ranked as the toughest division with the BC Division coming in 2nd followed by the Central and the East. It also makes sense that the Western Conference is rated as tougher than the Eastern Conference (ask Swift Current how tough the West is as they are 0-4 so far on their US Division trip).

Seattle has had the 7th toughest schedule so far and the 2nd toughest schedule going forward. So as we suspected, the schedule is going to get tougher the rest of the way.

The offense ranks 4th while the defense ranks 13th. Seattle has played better at home ranking as the 4th biggest difference between Home performance and Away performance.

It's pretty early to predict performance but Seattle is projected to finish with 39 wins which would be good for 78 points plus whatever games they lose in OT and shootouts (they currently have 1). That probably puts them around 82-86 points and puts them right in the mix for a 4th or 5th seed. I actually think that might be a little bit conservative but clearly Massey thinks the schedule is going to get a lot tougher going forward and that is probably true considering the difficulty of the division.


Fan trip to Victoria

I have a group package set up for the games in Victoria.
Two years ago, I took around 50 people up.
It was over Halloween weekend, and oh man, what a blast we had.
Tyler and his lovely wife went, and he can confirm how much fun we had.
Some of us may not remember the parts of trip, while others may remember getting sick on the boat ride home.
This time, it is not over that weekend, but will still be a blast.
We walked together from the hotel to the games (about a mile), ate dinner together, etc.

Anyone is able to join in on this package (player parents included, we had 4 players parents last time).

Fell free to email me at whitingjon at hotmail dot com for more info.

P.S. if anyone that wants to go is willing to watch my children and two other children going, there is some money to be made.

8-3, Seattle falls in Kamloops

Expectations have a funny way of shaping the conversation.  Two years ago, I probably would have said that the Tbirds battled hard last night but predictably lost a game in Kamloops. We would have noted how Justin Myles played well and that the Power Play just wasn't able to breakthrough. We would have been encouraged by the fact that the team only surrendered 28 shots and had a chance to win the game.

However... this team is different. The expectations are different and the expectations were raised even further by the signing of Ryan Gropp yesterday (despite his delayed debut due to a lower body injury). We have to maintain perspective about how far this team has come and especially how far they have come in just a short 7 months.

I point this out because for the duration of the season the critiques and analysis I attempt to give about the games may come across as failing to recognize how much better we have it. Expectations have a way of smothering perspective and I want to make sure we are maintaining perspective as we journey through this season.

So... in that light, let's try to keep things in perspective.

  • We're only 11 games into the season.
  • The season is 72 games long.
  • Plus a few more if we're lucky.
  • Seattle is a better team than they were last year. I don't think that's a stretch to say.
  • We're probably going to make the playoffs.
  • We might even get home-ice advantage in the first round and maybe more.
  • Yesterday we were tied for the most points in the WHL.
  • Today (by win %) we're 5th in the Western Conference.
I point all of this out to tell you... there is a lot of season left to be played.

So let's try to focus on what we know and not things we don't know.
  • Seattle generated 8 Power Plays last night. That's good.
  • They only scored on 1 of them. That's bad.
  • Justin Myles made 25 saves on 28 shots. That's decent.
  • He made several really good saves among the 25. That's good.
  • Myles has a save percentage of .901 and Danny Mumaugh's is .909. That's a good sign.
  • Seattle is outscoring their opponents 43-37. That's decent.
  • By comparison, in the last 4 seasons combined, Seattle has been outscored 750 to 1097.
  • This is real improvement and it started last season as their goal differential went from -119 in 2011-12 to "only" -76 last season. That's good.
  • Take away the 10-4 loss to Portland and the differential goes from +6 to +12. That's good.
  • We can't really "take away" games after they are played. That's bad... and unfair.
Jon made an interesting observation during the game last night that I agreed with (why am I giving him credit? I should pretend like it was my idea.) that the Seattle PP looked a little bit too focused on getting the puck to Shea Theodore.  Now don't get me wrong, getting the puck to Theodore is generally a pretty good idea but it felt a little too forced last night and I can recall only one time where they were able to hit Lipsbergs in the slot with that play that has been working lately.  Did Kamloops scout this and make it a point of emphasis? They might have and that might have been why the puck was getting forced out to Theodore more often. Seattle currently sits 18th on the PP at just 16.7% (8/48) but it is awfully early and I just don't think this team will continue to be this lackluster on the PP. I think we'll see that number rise over the next 10 games.

They did surrender one goal on the Penalty Kill last night but you have to like the way things are looking lately. Having generally better players means you can be more aggressive and chase players around the zone with more success and efficiency. I thought Riley Sheen had a particularly good game on the PK last night. With Ryan Gropp joining the mix, playing time is going to become increasingly tough for some players and I felt like Sheen was making a case for himself last night.

Final thought - This fan base is ready to believe. I'm ready to believe. The hardcore fans are ready to believe and eventually the casual fans will realize it and start showing up at the building.  Until that happens fully... This team will need to continue proving themselves each game. This weekend might bring us the highly anticipated debut of Ryan Gropp and Seattle will have two more opportunities to prove to the fans and the league that they are for real.


BREAKING NEWS: Ryan Gropp joins Tbirds

Breaking news out of Kent. Ryan Gropp has joined the Tbirds. I'll update as we get more information.

Obviously... this is fantastic news.


The first 10 games, and the rest of the month

I am so very excited about this team and the start they are having.  The fact that Everett and Spokane are off to virtually the same start has me thinking about things.
Is this start the result of the Birds playing really well, the quality of the teams they have played, both or neither?

After last night, the birds are 8 wins and 2 losses.

Here is a list of the results

Shootout Win 4-3 over Portland
Win 6-0 over Vancouver
Shootout win 5-4 over Tri
Loss 10-4 to Portland
Loss 3-0 to Tri
Overtime win 5-4 over Medicine Hat
Win 6-2 over Lethbridge
Win 4-3 over Kootenay
Shootout win 4-3 over Kelonwa
4-2 win over Tri

So, that is
3 wins in Shootout
1 win in Overtime
4 wins in regulation
2 losses in regulation

Looking at things this way gives us a better view and shows that Seattle is not exactly destroying teams. But, they are finding ways to win games and very good teams find ways to win games.

Now lets look at the records of the teams they have played:

2 game against Portland 4-3-0-1 (8-6-0-2)
1 game against Vancouver 1-7-1-1
3 games against Tri 4-6-0-1 (12-18-0-3)
1 game against Medicine Hat 7-1-1-0
1 game against Lethbridge 1-7-0-1
1 game against Kooteney 4-4-1-0
1 game against Kelowna 5-1-0-2

Combine all that up (and count the Tri's record 3 times, and Portland's twice, to make it equal out).
Looking at it that way shows Seattle has played a bunch of games against teams that are slightly below average.
Beating teams like this is what puts you NEAR the top.
Winning games against other top teams is what puts you AT the top.
So far, Seattle has handed the #1 team in the East (Medicine Hat), and the number #2 in the West (Kelowna) 1 of their 2 losses. The most impressive thing is that they did it in each of those teams home rinks.

So what all does this tell me about the great start. If you remove Kelowna and Medicine hat games, Seattle has played teams that are 18-39-2-6. So, 8 games against teams with not very good records.  But they have gone 6-2 in those games. So they are taking care of business against teams that based on their records, you should beat and that is a great thing.

The other great teams

Here is a quick look Spokane and Everett (the two other teams off to great starts).

6-2 win over Tri
6-2 win over Victoria
6-1 win over Victoria
2-1 win over Tri
6-4 loss to Portland
1-0 Overtime win over Everett
6-3 win over Kelowna
4-1 loss to Edmonton
3-2 win over Red Deer

2 games against Tri 4-6-0-1 (8-12-0-2)
2 games against Victoria 6-5-0-0 (12-10-0-0)
1 game against Portland 4-3-0-1
1 game against Everett 6-1-2-0
1 game against Kelowna 5-1-0-2
1 game against Edmonton 4-5-0-0
1 game against Red Deer 6-5-0-0
Combined record of 45-37-2-5.

8-4 win over PG
4-1 win over Vancouver
6-3 loss to Kelowna
2-0 win over Tri
1-0 Shootout loss to Spokane
2-1 win over Red Deer
4-2 win over Edmonton
3-2 Shootout win over PG
4-3 Overtime loss to PG

3 games against PG 5-4-0-1 (15-12-0-3)
1 game against Vancouver 1-7-1-1
1 game against Kelowna 5-1-0-2
1 game against Tri 4-6-0-1
1 game against Spokane 7-2-0-0
1 game against Red Deer 6-5-0-0
1 game against Edmonton 4-5-0-0
Combined record of 42-38-1-7.

So lets put these next to each other

45-37-2-5 - Spokane
42-38-1-7 - Everett
38-44-3-9 - Seattle

As you can see, Seattle has played games against teams far worse on average then either Spokane or Everett.
So the true test will come when Seattle starts playing them.

The rest of the month

Now, lets look ahead for Seattle
The next 6 games Seattle plays (through the end of October)
2-7-0-0 Kamloops
5-4-0-1 PG
6-3-0-1 Swift Current
4-6-0-1 Tri
1-7-1-1 Vancouver
5-4-0-0 Brandon

23-27-1-4 overall
So basically .500 teams, with Swift the only team with a winning record (and 1st place in the Eastern division).
So lets say Seattle goes 4-2 (a couple slip ups like Swift, and one other).
Heading out of the month of October, having played 16 games, Seattle could easily be 12-4.
Without only one slip up, 13-3.
And technically, if they take care of business against the teams they should be, could be 14-2.
Any way you look at it, that is an AMAZING start, and one most didn't expect (including myself).
The only problem, both Spokane (7 games, 2 against winning records) and Everett (5 games, 1 against winning records) could (and should) be basically the same.

I could easily see the end of the month standings being (rough numbers)
13-3 (26 points) Seattle
13-3 (26 points) Spokane
10-2-2-0 (22 points) Everett
Yikes, what a fun start

A huge game

I know you have to say - one game at a time. Every game counts. Not looking past your next opponent, blah, blah.But hey, that's what the team does.
As a fan, I look ahead at the schedule and see games coming up.
And one big, huge one gets circled on the calendar.
NOVEMBER 2nd, Seattle in Everett
The first meeting of the season between these two teams.
The first meeting since Everett took back to back games in pre-season against Seattle (and convincingly so).
The first meeting of 10 on the season.
The ONLY meeting of these two teams until after the Christmas break.


Thoughts from win over Tri

How many times over the last five years have we seem one team just completely dominate the first 5 minutes of a game.  Just come out of the gate, drop of the puck, and completely show a team how the night is going to be.  The answer to my question I dont think could be counted on two hands, you would need three or four.  But for the first time in a VERY LONG time, it was the Birds doing the dominating.  That seriously had to be the best five minute stretch I have seen this team play in a good number of years.

To me though, an even better indicator was how the next 5 minutes went.  Not quite as dominating, but very close to it.  The last 10 minutes of the period, more of the same.  Shots at the end of the period were Seattle 17, Tri City 8.  But really, at least two of the Tri shots were clearing dumps.  And on top of that, Seattle played shorthanded for four minutes of the first.  On one of those penalty kills, Tri didn't get one scoring chance at all.  I thought the domination continued for the rest of the game.  Not quite as good as the first, but very close.

Now, it was not all positive for Seattle.  Mumaugh did have to come up very big on a couple Tri shots throughout the game.  There were a few too many point blank shots where he had to make HUGE kick pad saves.  If you really want to be picky on the goalie, the first goal, he dove across the net to get a back door shot, and slid too far, so when the puck went off the post near side (which is the only place the puck could get past him), the entire net was open for the rebound.  And the second goal was a bad angle shot that he should have had.  Like I said though, you would have to be really picky to say anything bad about his game.

Speaking of goaltenders.  Howe much does Eric Comrie of Tri remind Seattle fans of Calvin Pickard.  Making so many big, string saves.  Not leaving rebounds, eating pucks when needed, and basically single handily keeping his team in the game.  If not for a his play in the first 10 minutes, Seattle is up 3 or 4 to nil (Like that multisport reference to soccer).  Everyone knows Comrie is an amazingly great goaltender, and it showed tonight.

My comment to people during and after the game was this. "What team is this, and can they make sure our normal team doesnt get returned."  This team is playing with so much confidence right now.  But also allowing that confidence is the fact that the team can roll 3 or 4 lines deep, and not have to count on the top line for so much.  Other teams can't match against that number of lines, and one line getting confidence means other lines can feed off of it.

One person I talked to last night had a conversation with Evan Wardly.  They said how much this team needs him back.  This was after the first period.  I guess his response was "Based on that, no they dont".  I know it was a joke, but man it almost is true (note, I am not saying that at all).

And now a few bullet point comments throughout the game

  • Dang my kids were well behaved last night.  Must have been the threat of not buying them the new Skylanders Swap Force that I picked up at midnight last night for them (note, they have been playing it since 8am, and I havn't even heard from them yet)
  • I am still amazed that Barzal doesnt get tossed from the faceoff more, since he turns so much.  But what is impressing me so much about it is he is actually starting with his stick on the backhand side of the dot, spinning his body counter clockwise as he pulls his stick to the forehand side, and then wins it straight back.  He gets incredible force and strength doing this because his body is swinging, but the speed at which he gets his stick across the circle is amazing to me
  •  This may sound like another nit picky comment, but I thought Troock struggled last night a lot.  Lost quite a few battles along the boards, and started trying to do things himself a little too much.  But, knowing what his injury was, I suspect it is still bothering him, and that would lead to the comment more.  Like I said, nit picky comment.
  • As the great Kelowna radio broadcast Regan Bartell says "LIIIIIPSSSSSSS BERG" had a huge game last night.  That forcheck hit he put on to set up his first goal was a huge hit.  It was at the far end from me, but I thought even if it was a totally clean hit (which I have been told it was), the angle the player went into the boards, and the loud noise, I expected a penalty to be called.  And his second goal was a great shot.
  • Speaking of shots, Theodore's goal, dam, wow, dam, wow, I cant come up with more words to use.  What a rocket shot into the upper corner.
  • I spent the second intermission talking and learning about NHL contracts from a player agent that sits near me.  I wont give out any names or any info he taught me, but just wanted to send out a huge THANK YOU for it.  So informative, and the type of behind the scenes education and knowledge I love to have.
  • First chance to see newcomer Adam Henry is action.  I thought he played a game exactly like he was described as.  Good skater, good passer, good defender.  I didn't think he anything particularly amazing, but he did a ton of stuff very well.  Ask my wife, his goal I called before he got the puck.  Where I was sitting, it was straight line from me, to where he was, to the upper corner of the net.  Perfect shot right where it needed to be.
  • Another defender, Ethan Bear.  What a few people said about his game making Forsberg expendable was 100% right on.  He is so calm for a 16 year old, sees the ice very well, and makes the right play 90% of the time.  And you can tell the coaches are willing to put him out there under any condition.
  • It was great to Kevin Wolf in the game.  Had some guys go around him with strong quick moves that a player his size shouldnt let happen.  But he also recovered from those plays well enough to make sure any rebound was cleared out.
  • A shout out the the line that Holub was playing on last night (usually Eansor and someone else).  To me, this is the sign of the team when you can roll this type of energy line, and not only to they not give up scoring chances at the other end, but they generate chances at the offensive zone, and put out so much energy that the opponent gets pinned in their zone, the crowd gets into it, and the team responds.
  • It is so awesome to see an opposing coach have to use the one timeout given per game 5 minutes into the first.  Tri was being so dominated, and the defensemen had been on the ice for so long, he had to use it switch players.  And when they needed it late in the game with the extra attacker, buzzzzzzzzzz, nope, all gone, no setup play for you.


Thoughts on the two trades

The Birds have made two player moves.

The first one has sent 20 year old defender Jesse Forsberg to the Moose Jaw Warriors. In exchange, they get a 3rd round pick in the 2015 Bantam Draft.

This solves the 20 year old situation by cutting down to the number of 20's to 3 (all forwards). This was probably the easiest way to solve the 20 year old issue and the too many defenders situation in one move. A 3rd rounder coming back is about on par with the other 20 trades as of late.

What is interesting is that Moose Jaw already had 3 20's, so maybe not a location people might have expected. Forsberg is a good defender on the back end, and a tough player at that. But Evan Wardley is starting to turn into that as a 19, so possibly the team didn't need another one. Off the ice, Forsberg was a class act, and I personally wish him the best of luck in the future.

The second move caught me by surprise.

The Birds have moved 18 year old Griffin Foulk to Lethbridge. Coming back is a 19 year old defender in Adam Henry. With the trading of Forsberg I certainly didn't expect another trade involving another defender. Foulk was advertised as a puck moving smooth skating defender when he was acquired from Everett. At times he showed this, but others times he looked like just a 2nd / 3rd line defender out there and he only had 3 assists in 46 games last season for the Seattle.

GM Farwell described Adam Henry as "adds some additional offense from the back end and supports our forward group and developing style of play.” Which is basically the same exact quote that Farwell used for Foulk when we got him. I don't know much about Henry, but he is still a defender that has played 4 years the league.

The funny thing I find about these two trades is almost all fans and the coaches / GM said those two were the best defenders during the playoffs last year and now neither are on the team.

How fast times change.


Game one of a big road trip

Lets see if the Birds can rebound from two straight disappointing games (losses to Portland and Tri).

First up is Medicine Hat.  They are off to a nice start at 4-1, only giving up 10 goals.

I have been told that Mitch Elliot will be playing tonight, so how many people think tough guys, former teammates, and friends Jacob Doty and Mitch Elliot will have a go to see who is the better fighter.

My guess, the answer is no.

Hopefully a little time off after last Tuesday, all spent on the road, will get the team bonded together and kicked back in gear.


Mitch Elliot on his way back to Seattle

Mitch just posted on twitter

"Headed back to Seattle I would like to thank the for the great opportunity"

So whats everyone think will happen now?

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