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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Seattle vs. Victoria - Game Thread

Seattle is coming off a nice 6-2 win over Saskatoon last night and Victoria comes in red hot. The Thunderbirds will try to cool off the Royals and their goaltenders.

Radio Appearance

I'm going to be doing a weekly (I think) segment on KLAY 1180am on the Weekend Warriors radio show every Saturday and today is the first of those segments. I don't know that it will be at the same time each week but this week I'll be on at around 1:45 to talk Tbirds hockey. Show runs from 1-2 and is hosted by Mark Miller and Ryland Spencer.

Go to the website here and you can stream the broadcast or tune in to 1180am if you're in the south end.

Welcome to the Delnov show

In this weeks episode, the character of Alexander (played by Alexander Delnov), finds the magic potion that was hidden in the far off town of Red Deer.  Upon drinking it as part of a family holiday feast, he is transformed into his alter ego, Super Delnov, a character that has not made an appearance in the show since season one.  Everything Super Delnov does turns to a red light.


Seattle vs. Saskatoon - Game Thread

Sorry for the late post up here... Nice win for the boys tonight. Delnov with a huge 5 point night.


Faceoff Stats from Saturday night's Portland game

Someone mentioned in the comments (sorry, couldn't find the exact one), that Seattle's issue is they cant win faceoffs.  They asked if the league kept stats on this.  To which my answer to the second one was "HaHaHaHaHaHaHa".  But, I also said, I will keep track for this game.

After the break, you will find far too many geeked out stats on the Faceoff's


Jon's thoughts on the Portland game

What a huge win.  Not just because of the points earned in the standings, but the mental side of things even more.

Twice the Birds battled back from what had to be disappointing events to come back and win. In the past they might have let the game get out of hand and didn't.


Seattle at Vancouver - Game Thread

Seattle heads to Vancouver tonight. This is the type of game they have to get if they want to stick around the top 4 in the West. 


Lipsberg guilty, but not guilty

Just announced on the twitter line, but in case you miss it.

Lipsbergs checking from behind major penalty has been changed to a double minor and the game misconduct taken away.

No suspended given.

I guess that means the league felt it was still a penalty, but maybe the league reads this blog.

No Shea Theodore in the Subway SuperSeries

This is some old news, but I wanted to put it up anyway.

The Subway SuperSeries is coming up next week in Red Deer and Lethbridge.
In case you are not aware, this is a set of games against Team Russia.

Team Russia plays 6 games, 2 each against QMJHL, OHL, and WHL) and it is used as a tune up for the World Juniors over Christmas.

When the roster was announced a couple weeks ago, I noticed Shea Theodore was not participating.
This came as a big suprise to me, as I personally think he is one of the best defenders in the entire WHL.

I asked GM Russ Farwell for some thoughts on this and he provided me the following paraphrased comment.

"They are only taking players that are candidates to play at the World Junior Championships. They felt they had enough offensively focused guys. The defenseman they have invited are trying out for the “shutdown/defensive roles” and Shea is not a candidate for that role."

Looking at the roster of defensemen participating in the games

1994 players
2 Ryan Pulock
7 Damon Severson
8 Griffin Reinhart
51 Derrick Pouliot

1995 players
2 Dillon Heatherington
4 Madison Bowey
10 Josh Morrissey

Even I have to admit that is a nice list of players, and the older players do have the style of Theodore.

Since this is being used as a chance to look at World Junior players, remember that team Canada has to look at players from other leagues, and will probably only keep 8, so that is some serious competition.

Russ also said

"Shea is getting some attention but is not considered a candidate for this year and he should aim to keep improving his overall game so he can be considered next year."


Lipsberg - Wheaton Hit

A quick comment on the hit last night that sent Mitch Wheaton to the hospital.

It really makes me sick to my stomach to see a player get hurt like that. Hockey is a dangerous game that comes with known and generally understood dangers and there are moments where we forget that these players are still young men that are barely of legal age and some younger. I never ever, ever want to see a player get hurt like that.  The fans chanting U.S.A. has to be one of the dumbest things I've seen at a hockey game... but I could spend another entire article on that whole subject.

In real time, I didn't think the hit looked that bad with the exception being that Wheaton's "landing" was bad and that's an understatement.

Upon replay my opinion didn't change a whole lot.  Lipsbergs chases him behind the net and is initially on his back... which is what makes the hit a questionable decision.  The problem is that Wheaton turns back to absorb the hit and by the time Lipsbergs actually hits him I think he gets a lot of shoulder and some of the back.

I think a penalty was probably justified. Initially, I thought a boarding call would have been completely appropriate and I could see the justification for checking from behind.  I think this is one of those situations where I think the outcome dictated the extent of the penalty.

Regan Bartel posted his column this morning and I know he disagrees with me and thinks that the hit was bad and Lipsberg should face significant suspension.  I respect the hell out of Bartel. With all due respect to Thom (who is great) Bartel is the best PBP guy in the league and I respect the hell out of his knowledge and perspective. I just think this is one of those cases where I'd have to respectfully disagree with him.


Seattle vs. Kelowna - Game Thread

Seattle stopped the bleeding over the weekend getting 3 out of 4 possible points in Victoria and now face the red-hot Kelowna Rockets.

This will be the second time in a month that Seattle will be hosting a team coming into the game with at least an 8 game winning streak. Portland came into town riding a 9 game winning streak on November 1st and started the Tbirds 6 game losing streak.

I'm posting a game thread but don't forget to check out Jon's post below.

What is a first line?

Reading all the recent discussions while in Victoria, I had a few questions for some of the commentators and readers of the blog.  I don't think any of these questions really have answers, I am just curious what people think, and continue the momentum we have here of discussion / debate.  I will try and post one every couple of days to give time for discussion, and leave space for games, thoughts, and anything else that comes up.

The first one that I really had to start debating myself was "What is a first line".  Quite a few of the comments were about player XYZ playing on the first line, getting first line ice time, etc.  So what do people feel a first line is?  Is it...
  • The line that starts
  • The line that gets the most ice time
  • The top scoring line
  • The line that other teams feel they must match their top defenders against
  • The line the coach wants out there in a close game
  • something completely different

How does a first line fit into a team like Portland last season (or arguable Seattle this season), where you have 3 or 4 lines deep?  Is there a true first line, or is it more line 1A or 1B?  Is there really a first line of forwards and a separate first line of defenders?

Since I asked the question, I guess I need to give an answer also.

Blog Re-design

As I'm sure some of you are noticing... we're going through a long overdue massive re-design of the blog.

I haven't messed with the design since the beginning and it really needed some updating.

Stay patient with us while we work through and fix some of the tiny little issues.


Response to a comment "Anonymous" made on November 17, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Now that I am back from Victoria, I have been catching up reading through all the fun comments to each post.  Then I get to the comment the title of this post is all about

"Speaking of having pride in your work, calling someone out for poor writing skills in the comments section is quite disingenuous considering what you allow Jon to write. He couldn't even be bothered to spell Wardley's name correctly three times the other day. He often has errors in his writing, yet no one has enough pride to edit his entries. He doesn't nor does the blog's owner."


Seattle at Victoria - Saturday Night Thread

A better effort last night and a slightly better result. Let's see if Seattle can salvage the weekend and get a split.

Mathew Barzal a healthy scratch tonight.

A new start

Picture on left was taken yesterday.  Picture on right I took this morning.
See the difference.  Yesterday, stormy, windy, rainy, and cold. Today, clear, sunny, dry, no wind, cold.  Ok, couldn't get all of them.
First, yesterdays game. Strong start, followed by two periods of unmotivated play.  call it no confidence, or what ever you want to.  I call it not winning the battles, not fighting every inch of the ice.  Too many times, puck into corner, and a royal comes out.
But the good news is that just like the weather, the Birds can leave Victoria on a good note.
Go out tonight, work as hard as you can, then work harder.  work like you are going to have to swim back to Seattle, uphill, both ways, in your gear, if you don't work hard.  Notice I didn't say WIN (but a win would go a very long way).  develope confidence, get shots and scoring chances.  But most of all, show that you care about playing.


Seattle at Victoria - Friday Night Thread

Seattle tries to get off the mat tonight in Victoria.  Will things continue or will they shake this slump?

In Victoria now

After a not so fun ride on the ferry this morning, a few of us have arrived.  The weather is so great, if you like Scotland.  40 degrees, windy, and pouring.

For me, its guys weekend. That means my two boys and I, no mommy.  Just a little bonding time with my boys.  Thank god they have cheap alcohol up here.

Since our room wasn't ready yet, we walked down to the rink to get our tickets.  lucky for us, it wasn't raining hard when we went.  And even luckier for us, the Birds morning skate was starting.  So we hung out and watched.  Sure hope they learn how to pass by tonight , since they had a hard time finding the tape.  everyone was out there, except Honey, who joined them half way through with the red jersey of doom on.

A little sight-seeing this afternoon, and then to the game.

Ad Hominem

I want to revisit this debate with "Ronny" one last time and address a few things. I really would like to move on from the thing and obviously I'm not doing that by writing another article. I turned comment registration on because I wanted to see if "Ronny" had enough guts to register himself before making a comment. Clearly he didn't.

This isn't meant as an attack on the guy (or gal... but one can probably assume). I rather enjoy the debate and I don't have a problem with someone having a different opinion, even if that opinion seems veiled, to some degree, in motives we can't entirely confirm.

First off... "Ronny" didn't throw this out initially but when challenged claimed that he had played 5 years of Major Junior and had coached at that level. I don't have any way of knowing whether this is true or not but let's assume that it is. I'd have a few questions.

  • Why are you commenting mostly-anonymously on a teams fan blog? I have no affiliation with the team and I'm most certainly not "part of the problem" because I have exactly zero control or influence over what the team does.
  • Why won't you identify yourself? Why are you hiding behind a keyboard? Are you still looking for a job at the WHL level? Why would you care what the Thunderbirds think if you are critical of what they are doing?
  • Lastly... and this offer still stands... why not email me privately? I feel as though I've been pretty civil in this entire discussion and at least I can give you proper credit for your level of expertise. People contact me privately about the blog all the time and I've never put anyone on blast.
My guess is that you are neither of these things... and thus none of these questions will ever get answered. And that's fine. I'm certainly curious to know who you are but I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it.


Here is why I still think you're wrong.

Your argument is based on the theory that Barzal has been "given" ice-time and has been anointed as the golden child from the beginning and that this "culture" has made Barzal a cancer in the locker room and is slowly killing the team.

If this is true, shouldn't this have been true in the first 16 games of the season as well as the last 5?

Your argument is based on the theory that playing time should be earned, not given and that players on the team must be unhappy playing in Seattle because the 16 year old "phenom" isn't really a phenom and he is being handed the "keys". That he has been given his hype by a consortium of people from the Seattle organization all the way back to his midget and bantam days and that everyone, including myself, has bought into the hype.

I hope I have the argument right. I'm really trying not to exaggerate this thing. You believe that good organizations like Portland and Calgary stick their 16s on the 4th line and let them develop and that Barzal should be installed on the 4th line simply by his age and that the veterans on this team have earned their way.

The problem is... your argument eats itself. You're telling us that playing time shouldn't be given to Barzal and that playing time has to be earned yet you're literally giving ice-time to veteran players based on how old they are. You would say that the veterans on this team have "earned their place on the team" and thus ice time. More on that in a minute.

Players, regardless of their age, should have to earn playing time.  Barzal has been benched, Delnov has been benched, Elliot has been benched... just to name a few.

I may not agree with everything Coach Konowalchuk has done but to an outsider he clearly isn't "giving" playing time to anyone.

Playing time should be earned in practice and on the ice regardless of how old you are. Your "winning culture" defines playing older players regardless of whether they have earned it or not.

What has the current roster done to earn their playing time besides have a birthday each year?

Let's run down the roster real quick:

McKechnie - Like his game... but hasn't been here and thus has to earn his ice time.
Elliot - Been here for 5 seasons and has 29 points in 271 games while being a Thunderbird during the worst teams in franchise history. Has to earn his ice time.
Eansor - 1st season and lately has played as well as anyone and has earned his additional minutes. Or is he just being given those minutes?
Hickman - Captain, works hard, probably has earned some benefit of the doubt.
Troock - Hurt constantly, hasn't earned anything.
Gropp - Talented, hasn't been here. Needs to earn ice time.
Barzal - Needs to earn ice time and I believe he has and when he hasn't he's been benched.
Honey - Has earned his playing time in my book.
Yakubowski - Same as McKechnie, like his game... still has to earn it.
Swenson - Has earned it to an extent. Still has to go out and show it and he mostly does.
Delnov - Disappears at times and was -33 last year. Still needs to earn it.
Kolesar - Needs to earn it.
Lipsbergs - I'd put him in the Hickman and Honey group. Has mostly earned it.
Holub - Needs to earn it.

The only guys in my book who have previously earned some benefit of the doubt is Honey, Hickman and Lipsbergs.

Look... I don't go to practice, I don't sit in the locker room. I don't "know" who has earned playing time and who hasn't but unless you're going to tell me who you are and your name is Tyler Alos and you're telling me that you watch practice every day as well... I'm going to tell you that based on what I've seen on the ice, Barzal has earned his ice time as much as anyone else has.

I'm not willing to hand ice time to veterans who have lost a vast majority of their games with this franchise in the past 3-4 years.

Ice time is earned. Not given based on age.

You said so yourself.

Program Note: I'm taking a bit of a break from the team tonight. No tweets and I'm probably going to pass on watching the game. I need a bit of a mental break from the team and maybe that will bring them a win tonight.


11-8-2, Sky is Falling

I really don't have much in the way of eloquence this morning after that debacle last night.

I tweeted this during the game.

That really tells a lot about the story here. This team has been failing for years and every single aspect of the organization should be taking a good hard look at itself and wondering why these last 5 games have happened. I expected the team to get blasted and then went out and got blasted.

Look, it's 5 games.  It is a long season and 5 games only represents roughly 7% of the season. The season isn't over... but the problem is that it "feels" like it is over because teams that are generally regarded as upper level teams don't usually get their doors blown off the way the Tbirds have in the last couple of weeks.

This division is extremely tough and Seattle was able to fatten up on the Eastern teams. Two telling stats for you. First... Portland, Spokane, Everett and Tri-City are now all ranked in the top 7 in Massey Ratings. Seattle sits 10th. That means that in all of these division games, you're going to be the underdog and that takes a toll on a team.  You can be a good team and be in a clearly tough division and finish last. That seems to be where Seattle is headed.

Secondly, it is also telling that both Medicine Hat and Swift Current have edged ahead of them in the ratings and Seattle won in Med Hat and handled Swift Current pretty easily at home. This speaks to how far the team has fallen off here in a very short amount of time.

This team just doesn't seem to care and I have no idea why.  We've regressed back to the days of the past few years where the team just didn't seem committed to team defense. This isn't entirely on the defenders, forwards or the goalies... This is on everyone.  Every single one of them are letting themselves down right now by not being committed to team defense.

Everyone always loves goal scoring but offense hasn't been this team's problem for years.

I don't know what else to say. This team is in a death spiral and I honestly have no idea what will bring them out of it.


Seattle at Portland, Game Thread: Let's all freak out

I'm kidding, sort of. Seattle heads down the I-5 tonight to face the Portland Winterhawks. The Winterhawks have mostly had their number in the past few seasons and we're all well aware that the Tbirds are coming into the game riding a 4 game losing streak.

To be honest, I'm expecting nothing more than getting blown out by the Winterhawks.

I'm not happy about how the team is playing and I don't think fans should be happy either.


Here's the thing.

There may come a day where it might make some logical sense for me to advocate massive changes for the team but that day isn't going to come after a 4 game stretch.

Everyone needs to calm down. We know this team is more talented than they have been in years past and we know they made a couple of trades that have changed team dynamics. Over the past 4 games, it hasn't worked. Let's give it a little more time to see what happens.

There may come a time to reasonably panic and freak out but doing so after 4 games would be an overreaction.


Wardley gets 4 games

Just a quick note that the WHL finally announced Wardley's suspension.
Four games total, with one already served.
Looks like the first game he could come back would be Friday November 15th, in Victoria.

If it was as bad as it looked live (and I have not seen a replay yet), then 4 games seems about right based on the other suspensions handed out lately.

What worried me about this a little is the future.
The next penalty like this for Wardley, and he is a repeat offender.
So the next suspension could be getting longer.


TBirds drop 2 - Common Theme for both nights

I got home last night from the game in Everett, and was so frustrated that I decided to wait until the morning to do a write up, fearing I would type some things I didn't mean to.  But even with the extra hour added in (oh wait, two young kids believe that hour means an extra hours play instead of sleep), it didn't change my opinion of this weekend.

After reading what I wrote, I have decided I am not going to change it, but throw this out that it might be a bit of an over reaction.

This weekend to me was a complete waste and disappointment of two games.  Two huge games to make a statement against the two biggest rivals.  Two of the four teams you are competing against in the US division (don't look now, but after last night, Tri is only 4 points back).  Two of the other teams listed in the BMO top 10, the WHL writers top 25, and the Barak Obama CHL top 2000 (that's 2145 in Metric for you Canadian readers).  One game on home ice where you have been nearly unbeatable.  One game on the road in a place where you need to show you can win.

With all of those statements above, one would expect a team to get fired up, ready to roll, excited, exploding with emotion, etc, etc, etc.  Instead, what you got was a team that had NO DETERMINATION, NO FIGHT, NO WILLING, NO SACRIFICE, NO HEART, NO PASSION, and NO COURAGE.

In both games, when you should come out firing, instead they were flat, giving up a goal 3:45 in Friday, and a whole 53 seconds on Saturday.  Not a great way to start at all, but great teams shrug that off, and go back to work.  Instead, the Birds decide that getting 4 SHOTS (not scoring chances, but shots) combined in the two first periods of the games) was appropriate.  In Everett, I know one of those shots was a clearing dump by Theodore from his own zone, and I think the other was a dump in from the red line.  On Friday night, they at least had some drives to the net, but all the shots were wide.  Let me just say that again FOUR shots in two games.

So you go into the locker room, regroup, get your heads back in to the game, raw, raw, raw, captains stand and scream "we are better then this", everyone jumps up yelling and swearing, and running for the ice (saw that in a movie, so it must really happen).  If getting 5 shots and 6 shots in the 2nd periods of the two games is a result of this break, then it worked, because that is what they got.  These 2nd periods were basically the same as period one, only Seattle got SEVEN more shots over the two games.

On to the third period.  You are getting totally dominated at both ends of the ice, on the scoreboard, and in your fans hearts.  The only goal you have scored over both of the games in the 4 periods was a single handed short handed work your butt off goal (try saying that three times).  So again, the coaches, the captains, the trainers, the equipment guys, and the janitors gather the players, say "Lets go win this period".  Now, I will say that I honestly feel like Seattle did win both 3rd periods.  Maybe not on the scoreboard, but in scoring chances.  Both Burke and Cotton did need to make SOME good saves (with Burke letting in one goal, but Cotton none).

On to overtime and the shootout.  Oh wait, never mind.

Tyler Tweets

From Friday's game

"Portland has showed up on a mission. Tbirds have no answer so far."

Last nights game
Tyler was not at last's nights game, since got had an offer to go drink beer at a friends house (gee, I'm not jealous or anything.  OK really, if we had won, I wouldn't have been jealous).

"To me... This game has character written all over it. You got your ass kicked last night and you're in a tough building against a good team.  this is when you need to sack up and show what kind of guts you have."

"Wasn't sure Tbirds could play worse than last night but they're giving their best effort to try tonight."

"not hitting. Not finishing checks. No "jump". You name it."

"Instead of rising to the challenge. This team is cowering. Very frustrating."

Common Themes

There were a lot of common themes to both these games.  If you read Andy Eide's recap of the games with quotes from coach K, you will see that he knows what the commonality was".  But, if you don't want to go read them, I will quote a couple for you. "It's willing to be tough with the puck", "We had guys not ready to play", "turnovers in the neutral zone, almost on the first five shifts in a row, You're not even ready to win, you're not even committed to winning", and "We don't have the whole team competing right now".

I will translate to Jon language on those.  "We were not ready and mentally focused from the start of the game."  "We were not willing to fight for the puck at any time during either of the games, when we had the puck, when the other team had the puck, or when it was a 50-50 battle for the puck".  "Some players went out with fight in their eyes, while the rest skated around like all star Bantam players going up against inferior players".

There were five players that I thought gave a ton of effort in the games, and two of those are the goalies.  I could name 7 players off the top of my head that it would have been better to put out an orange cone on the ice instead of them (ok, a little over the top, maybe just TBird trainer Phil Varney instead of them).

The one player that I was most impressed with in both games was Troock.  On almost every shift, he went hard, threw his body into checks, fore-checked, and skated hard.  Unfortunately (and I dont blame him), it appeared he became frustrated and started trying to do too much offensively by himself.

The last common theme I am going to just say and not discuss is penalties.  Way too many unneeded penalties.  Badly timed penalties.  Lazy penalties.

Oh My God, The Sky Is Falling

This was games 17 and 18.  I asked my ten year old, and he told me that 72-18 leaves 54 more games.  The team is still 11-5-0-2, with a .667 winning percentage.  They are still in a three way tie for 2nd place in the US division.  They are still 6-1-0-1 on home ice.

Yes, their BMO ranking will surly drop out of the top 10.  Their EGO ranking will sure get slapped around.  Their confidence will get knocked back to earth.  And my guess, their butts will get bag skated for not putting in the effort.

Tyler pointed this out to me Friday night, if the team goes on a 52 game winning streak to close out the season, then the only reason anyone remembers these two games is because they were the last two games they lost.  If they go on to win the remaining 11 games against Everett, no one remembers Saturdays game.  Same with the remaining Portland games.

To me, these two games were as Tyler pointed out, not must win games.  To me, they were show what you have games.  Show you can compete games.  If they went 2-0, I would be sending in my Memorial Cup ticket order.  If they went 1-1, both close games, it would still be a great weekend.  If they went 1-1, but neither game was close, then oh well, ok, you got 2 points (possible against the best team in the league).  If you they went 0-2, but both games were close, I'd say ok, well, we are close, but not quite there yet.

Where to go from here

But instead they went 0-2, getting dominated in both games.  This is where team leadership, commitment, and PRIDE come into play.  The team needs to prove that these two games were just plain bad games.  That is all, we played terrible.  Turn things around, don't panic, go on a winning streak.  Get back to the basic's of the system, forecheck hard, finish checks, disrupt play, get turnovers, create scoring chances.

Remember that there are three new playerss till trying to fit in and get things down.  Having a full week of practice time should help that improve.

Other notes in bullet point

  • Lipsberg got hurt near the end of the game Friday night.  Coach says "Upper body" but not serious. Guess maybe his pride got hurt then <g>
  • A lot of people I am talking to are complaining about how much coach K messes with the lines.  And I will say that I can not disagree with that.  He seems to change them every game, and in mid game also.  I am not sure if this is an NHL type thing, or just a feeling he has to try and find the best match ups or guys working together.  Other coaches and teams don't seem to move things around as much as he does.  Maybe it is also a way he uses to send messages to players.  Skate hard, play more, take it easy, 4th line for you.
  • Speaking of coaching, I wonder how much of this lack of getting up for games (going back the last couple seasons) rides on the coaches and motivating them.  I personally agree with the benching of a player or even sitting him in the stand to send a message about working hard (no easier way to me to get the message then not playing and being forced to track stats).
  • I wonder how many games Wardly will get for running through and over De Champlain?  What a huge hit.  I know Wardly was trying to fire up the team and crowd, and I can understand that.  But I thought he did take a little run up to the hit (call it charging if you want).  A little scary seeing De Champlain on the ice that long, and clearly not moving much.  As much as I can not stand Portland, I truly hope he is ok.  But next time he decides to have his head down coming up the ice, remember what happened.
  • The Portland team is still dam good.  Like really good up front.  Like really scary up front.  But also beatable (not right now it seems).
  • Loved the argument between linesmen Kevin Boris and I think Leipsic.  Go get him Boris (now wouldn't that be funny to see).
  • Speaking of lipstick (sorry, auto correct, meant Leipsic).  He and Barzal were having a talking match at just about every faceoff.  Why couldn't we get that mic'd up.  Had to have been some great one liners there.  The good news for Leipsic is Barzal is only 1 inch taller so has to be one of the only players he stand eye to eye with <g>
  • And one more thing with lipstick (dam auto correct again).  You have to hate him, but DAM is he a great player.  And on a line with Petan, wow, scary.
  • Met some new player parents over the weekend.  Always great to say hi and hear what they think of the team.
  • Hotel and Tickets are still available from me for Victoria.  Its coming up quick.
  • Last night in Everett was Pink the Rink night for Breast Cancer.  Yours truly once again had pink hair.  Great cause, raise something like $100k off of everything.  And even if the opponent is your hated enemy, there are larger things in life (my step mom beat breast cancer).  See the image below for me and someone who had to bring her standards down to marry me (my beautiful wife Alicia) 


Seattle at Everett Game Thread

Seattle hits the road to Everett tonight for the first of 12 meetings between the bitter I-5 rivals.

11-4-2, Portland shows Seattle they're still tops

Portland dominated the 1st period on their way to a 5-2 victory last night at Showare Center. The Winterhawks showed that they are still top banana in the West in convincing fashion. Portland started fast and maintained their torrid pace through much of the game.  Seattle was able to muster a little bit of energy in the 2nd and 3rd periods but the 3 goal deficit to begin the game was just too much to overcome. Some thoughts about the game before another big game tonight in Everett.

  • Yak's Checking to the Head penalty from Tuesday night was changed to a Charging major (still a bit laughable) and was thus not suspended and available to play last night.
  • As I stated in the opening, Portland came out firing on all cylinders and looked like they were out to prove a point. They were on a mission from the start and their overall team speed just overwhelmed the Thunderbirds.
  • I'm so sick of Brendan Leipsic... how is that guy still in the league? I'm so sick of Portland for that matter. I can't believe I ever felt sorry for these guys when they were THE worst franchise in the league. Oh... I had a point. Leipsic is good, really good, and he tallied twice in the opening period to stake Portland to the lead. Seattle did themselves no favors by giving Portland a 5 on 3 penalty and I honestly thought both calls were pretty fair. Brendan Troock's interference along the side boards was an easy call and though you might have called Embellishment on Seth Swenson's tripping call I thought he did take the player to the ice and the puck wasn't close to him. Seattle can't do that and Portland made them pay.
  • Fans called for Justin Myles to get the hook after Garrett Haar ripped on past him to give Portland a 3 goal lead but I thought he had no chance on the 1st and 3rd goals and the Winterhawks were dominating the action. After the blitz, Myles actually played pretty well finished with 36 saves on 40 shots and keeping the game from becoming a blowout.
  • Evan Wardley picked up a Major for Charging and could face suspension. In real-time I think these calls are tough to make and even though we complain about officials all the time... they really do have a difficult job.  I didn't think the hit was "that bad" as I thought it looked like a clean body shot with Adam De Champlain getting caught with his head down. Wardley did come from the red line to just inside the blue line to deliver the hit but now we have to get into a conversation about what constitutes charging and whether he glided into the it or not. Honestly.. I'd have to see a replay and other people said they thought Wardley caught up high and in the head. If that's truly the case, I would have to defer. So far no suspension has been announced, so we'll have to see whether Wardley suits up tonight in Everett.
  • What bothered me most by last night was the complete absence of some players in a big game.  Where was 20 year old Mitch Elliot last night? No big hits, no fights, no impact on the game.  Alexander Delnov? Horrible decisions with the puck and his lack of awareness gave Portland the empty net goal.  Brenden Troock? He did pick up an assist last night but too many times he made poor decisions with the puck. Firing bad angle shots on the Power Play with nobody in front of the net and trying to dangle though multiple people to get to the net. You can't do that at this level. Here we have a fairly elevated game early in the season and a bunch of your players don't show up. Very frustrating to say the least.
  • Portland's speed makes life very tough on Shea Theodore. Theo is a superb talent who looks amazing against most teams. Against Portland? He looks downright mortal and human and I think that has everything to do with Winterhawk players being the few who can truly skate with Theo.
  • Seattle is much improved, that we know for sure. However, last night Portland showed us that they are still the class of the division and the Western Conference. Seattle is going to have to step their game up to the next level if they have hopes of catching up with Portland.
One final note going into the game tonight.  This game should be very interesting on a character basis. Everett got caught perhaps looking ahead last night and got handled at home by Brandon. You'd have to imagine that Everett is really pissed off going into the game tonight... BUT... Seattle just got handled on their home ice by division rival Portland. Shouldn't Seattle be a little pissed off tonight too? Will be extremely interesting to see how Seattle responds tonight and whether Everett shows up to play and blows their doors off.


Portland at Seattle Game Thread

Big game tonight as Seattle gets another chance to measure their progress and cool off the surging Winterchickens who come into the game on a 9 game winning streak.

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