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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.


Anonymous said...

Im hoping Gropp will be good to go for the next game? I heard his injury was pretty much healed but Im sure Seattle was just being extra cautious and also let him get to know the boys in practice and everything.. cant wait to see how he does

Sean said...

The 3 on one break on an empty net against P.G. that was off side...the three forwards were Swenson,Hickman and Benoit WITH Benoit just slightly ahead of the puck. That should never have happened

Anonymous said...

Should have dumped the puck in and "fore checked the hell out of PG" and ate up the clock. Disappointing loss.
Everett, Spokane, Victoria, and Portland are going to be tough opponents. Tough division, ask Swift Current. (0-4)

Anonymous said...

We came back strong versus Swift on Saturday, they put PG in the rear view mirror. I have been disappointed at the weekend games of late. 3500 on Friday and 3300 Saturday, where are all the hockey fans? There has to be 6100 fans in the greater Seattle area to go to the games? Kent isn't that far to go and I live in south Seattle.

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