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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.

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