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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.


Anonymous said...

Good write up. I have a question about something that happened in the game last night. After we scored our last goal one of the Brandon players shot the puck into the crowd and hit a guy in the face. Will that be looked at by the whl for suspension? There was a penalty handed out on that goal, was that it? Thanks!

Thunnex said...

I did not see the puck go into the stands... that "might" get looked at by the league. Not sure. From the postgame video replay it didn't look like he shot the puck into the crowd.

After the empty net goal, you can see Roy just randomly shove the net off its pegs. That got him the 10. Kind of humorous actually.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed how the birds played last night! Hopefully we get a decent crowd turnout Friday night!

Anonymous said...

You might get away with taking penalties against average teams, but against Portland, Everett and Spokane, not so fortunate. Plus, this team needs to work on the power play. How about "planting" Elliot in front of the net? Just a thought

Thunnex said...

I think the Power Play has actually looked pretty dangerous and there has been a game or two where they have scored right after a penalty has expired.

If you add just 2 goals to their total their % jumps to 21.53 and puts them middle of the pack.

It's something to watch for sure but I don't know that I would term it a problem yet.

I do think they are giving up WAY too many PPs themselves, so I think you're spot on there. They've had 65 PP chances and surrendered 79. For comparison: Portland 84/80, Kelowna 75/58, Everett 65/53.

I don't think that scenario is sustainable to success. In fact... good idea, I might write an article on this.

Unknown said...

I don't think the league will look at the player shooting the puck into the stands (I can't remember who did it). First off, a ref would have had to specifically seen which player did it and I'm not sure if anyone really noticed. Also, shooting the puck over the glass when it is not in play out of frustration would not (I believe) lend itself to a suspension... If anything it would have at most been a misconduct (which did not happen to that player and is why I don't think any of the refs really noticed until they looked for the puck and could not find it). Even if it was brought up to the league that someone got hit in the face as a result, I doubt there would be any video evidence available to prove that it did in fact happen (and as everyone knows in the world of sports, if it was not caught on video, it did not happen). Generally the cameras are not focused on the crowd (especially in the corner where it happened) and even if there was a camera facing that direction, I doubt you could see exactly what happened because everyone around the person was standing up and celebrating. I sit high behind the net on that side and watched the puck flying into the crowd and (at the time) I did not think it hit anyone (let alone in the face). I did see people moving around, but I just thought they were looking for the puck.

Also, in regards to the nickname for Sam Mckechnie... I know players normally don't go by their fist names, but if you are looking to shorten it up for the sake of the blog, there is nothing shorter than just calling him Sam (as long as you use his full name the first time you make reference to him in a post as well... I know we don't have any other Sam's on the team, but it would be for people who do not have all the players first names memorized... And it is most important now since he is still "new" to the team).

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