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1.29.2014

The Jon Report

I'm Jon, here my report.

This post started as thoughts on the last weekend and turned into a bunch of different thoughts I have had over the last couple days.


This last weekend

As most have pointed out, the key to this last weekend's games was special teams and I thought the penalty kill made the biggest difference.

Friday night - Tri, 0-3
Saturday night - Everett, 1-4
Sunday night - Kelowna, 0-4

Combined, that is 1-11.
But it wasn't just that they did but rather the timing of the killed off penalty that made a difference.

I will be the first to admit that Saturday night, when Everett was put on the powerplay with 1:56 to go in a tie game, I thought it was over.  That is usually how it goes with Everett games.  Capitalize on their chances late in the game to seal the deal.  But, the Birds blocked shots, got sticks on pucks, and made some timely saves and ultimately won it in overtime.

Sunday night against Kelowna, again, tie game, Kelowna goes on a 4 minute powerplay right after Seattle scored to tie it up.  But the penalty killers do some amazing work, kill it off, and we score right after.

I really thought the biggest player on those kills (other then the goalie) was captain Justin Hickman.
Adam Henry also comes to mind and the entire penalty kill as a whole contributed but Hickman led the way in killing those timely penalties. In the 4 minutes against Kelowna, Hickman got the puck, almost scored, then tied up 3 of their players in the far corner, making everyone dig hard for the puck (and I have to tell you guys that digging for a puck in the corner will tire your legs a lot more than people realize).

Some good words for an opponent

This is going to sound strange coming from me, but I also wanted to point out the 3 Everett penalty killers that almost killed off the Seattle powerplay in OT.  They played the entire 1:46 of the kill, in their own end and I don't recall the puck leaving the zone.  They blocked shots, cut down passing lanes, and made Seattle work for the game winning goal.  Everett goalie (and former TBird) Daniel Cotton was the first to console his hard working teammates after the loss.  They were so tired and so dejected on the ice while Seattle was celebrating.  You have to give them credit for the job they did in almost killing off the 4 on 3 in overtime.

Some good words for an opponent - Part 2

Kelowna goaltender Jordon Cooke.  Wow, what a couple saves he made in the 3rd to keep it close.  He robbed Ryan Gropp on a cross crease save with the pad.  How he got from one side to the other side that fast, and made the save, then got the next shot Gropp put up was amazing.

Response to a tired Kelowna team

I think you could tell that Kelowna had been playing 4 games in 5 nights, had to travel over night to Seattle, etc.  They seemed to be a step off.  But, I also think a lot of that had to do with the way Seattle played.  Kelowna had zero space and time with the puck in the 2nd and 3rd.  Every pass to a Kelowna player had a Seattle player on him quickly.  Seattle also finished just about every check they could have.  I remember in the 3rd period, a Kelowna player was going to play the puck along the boards, and saw a Seattle player coming to check him (I think it was Hickman), and instead of going hard and playing the puck, he slowed up and tried to chip the puck past.
Kelowna got very frustrated, took some very bad penalties, and in the end lost.

This is the type of hockey that when Seattle plays, they can compete with anyone.

Crowd Saturday night

Sold out, standing room only, packed to the rafters.
It was so sold out, the Seattle non-suits had to sit in the press area, and the Everett non-suits were standing behind the scout area.  What a great crowd.  Lots of energy, noise, and they were treated to a great game, with the correct outcome.

Playing the bottom feeders

Last week, a tweet appeared out of Everett that mentioned Everett doesn't play a team under .500 the rest of the season.  Due to the amazing loser point, there really are only 5 teams with under a .500 record in the entire league.  With only 2 of them in the western conference, the chances of playing more then a couple of games against those are even smaller.  So to me, saying you don't get to play any games against struggling teams the rest of the season is kind of pointing out the obvious.
I have news for people, how do you think these teams got to be under .500.  By playing you guys already.

Hunnex Edit: Hockey people should know by now that ".500" is no longer relevant hockey related standings fodder. If you want a new benchmark, I would suggest .600 or at the very least .550. Currently, 8 of the 20 teams in the WHL sport point percentages over .600. Edmonton, Calgary, Med Hat in the East and Kelowna, Portland, Victoria, Seattle and Spokane in the West.

But, it did make me wonder how many Seattle did have left.  So here is a run down on the schedule for the teams around us

Kelowna - Kamloops 3, PG 4 - total of 7
Portland - Kamloops 2, PG 3 - total of 5
Victoria - Kamloops 3, PG 2, Saskatoon 1 - total of 5
Seattle - Kamloops 1, PG 1 - total of 2
Spokane - Kamloops 2, PG 2 - total of 4
Everett - Kamloops 0, PG 0 - total of 0
Vancouver - Kamloops 2, PG 0 - total of 2
Tri - Kamloops 1, PG 0 - total of 1

Each US division team also gets to play Prince Albert at home, since they are making their swing late.  They are right at .500, so I didn't include them.
So clearly, if playing a team under .500 means a win, then the teams at the top have the best chance at staying at the top.

Playoffs

Speaking of looking ahead and who plays who, I want to look a little further ahead and the playoffs.  If the playoff's started right now, Seattle is in 4th place, meaning they get matched up with 5th place.  Oh look, Spokane is in 5th.  Check the record against them this season (5-0).
Win that round, and assuming the top 3 teams also win, still the 4th seed, and matched up against #1 seed Kelowna.  Record against them 2-1.

As much as I want us to stay in front of everyone, and pass Portland for the division, I think Seattle would feel pretty confident about those two match-ups.

Kevin Wolf

Someone in a comment under the Kevin Wolf's picture asked about the future Kevin in Seattle. So here goes.

I do think Kevin will continue to improve and be a quality defender in the WHL.  Will it happen tomorrow, no.  Will he continue to get better tomorrow, yes.  Will he be a #1 defender in the league, probably not.

Kevin came from Minnesota as a tall 16 year old.  The difference between Minnesota high school hockey and the WHL is HUGE.  The difference between the Chicago Fury team (he went and played with as a 15) and the WHL is HUGE.  So anyone that expected him to step into the WHL and be a top end talent was mistaken from the start.

If you look at the amount of improvement he made during the last off-season, and project it out to this upcoming off-season, you would expect to see a player that will be able to skate better and use his size even better.  If he doesn't continue to improve, he will get pushed quite a bit by all the other defenders that might be coming in.

Also, at times, they have been playing him up front, and he has handled it well, even getting a goal. I am told he played forward it in the past, so maybe that is his future.

Goals for everyone

Speaking of Wolf scoring a goal. Now that he has, every current Seattle player has scored a goal. Each year seems a couple of players don't get one, so great to see it happen. Also goes to show the depth the team has.

Mini Parents Weekend

There were a bunch of the player's parents at the two games this weekend.
Wonderful seeing all of them and chatting it up.
Thanks again for all you guys do, and for letting your son's play hockey for a team we all love.

Jon had a bad game

Since a couple people gave me a bad time about not including this in a blog post, here you go
Two weeks ago, playing in a men's rec league game, my team lost 7-1.
I was playing defense, and finished a minus 7.  That's right, -7, 7 below zero, was on the ice when they other team scored ALL their goals.  So, keep that is mind whenever I talk about Seattle's defense.

Extra Credit

And lastly, anyone in Seattle that recognized the title of this post, and combined it with the first line, and knows where it comes from, you get 5 million points.  But as Drew Carey used to say on "Whose line is it anyway", the points don't matter.

11 comments :

Anonymous said...

Notice how sparse the comments section gets when the team is playing well and nobody has anything to bitch about?

Brian Wochnick said...

Nice Post: I have moved to Minnesota this past year from Portland to do research on Minnesota High School Hockey. Nice job and I get paid to travel around Minnesota and watch high school hockey. Great work. The biggest difference between Minnesota hockey and WHL hockey is talent pool. In Minnesota, a good team might have a few players that stand out and make a difference. In the WHL the 16 year old fourth line can skate! Skate with speed and power. Minnesota hockey is physical and enjoying to watch especially since I get paid to do it. Got to love research.

Brian on hockey assignemnt

asdb said...

Hey Brian, what kind of research are you doing?

Jon said...

Hey Brian, I have the same question as asdb. And my second question, how come this type of thing didn't come along when I was younger and single?

Anonymous said...

I'd like my 5 million points for knowing Almost Live and John Keister...You can send those to me via paypal.

Thanks,

Andy Eide

Anonymous said...

I received a grant!! Spend a few months experiencing the life of Minnesota high school hockey. Hoping to write a book, similar to Rob Neyer following the red sox for a year. Some interesting facts: every town has a dairy queen and a hockey rink. All the rinks have character. They towns honor the past players. The crowds are passionate and have vast knowledge of the game. Several younger players, freshman go on to play at the WHL. They tailgate too!!

Brian

Anonymous said...

who is going to settle the issue with Leipsic?

Anonymous said...

He got his seven games, we should be more focused on trying to beat a team ahead of us in the standings that has our number and certainly in that building.

Kodi said...

I agree!

We lost our composure after that hit happened. We need to focus, shut down the scoring line, and hope we can put up more then they can.

Now if someone puts Leipsic in his place while accomplishing that goal then I won't complain too much.

Anonymous said...

If they spend time worrying about getting "revenge" on Leipsic the game is lost before it begins. Last place Seattle needs to be against Portland is in the penalty box. Need a repeat of Sunday's win over Kelowna.

Marc S said...

I don't think you go out of your way to hit him, but I think if the opportunity to make a good clean hard hit presents itself then you do it. Yes, he got 7 games, but I think you need to make sure you are physical without losing your composure.

The last game in Seattle it looked like Hickman had the opportunity to knock him into next week and he let off instead of putting him on the ice. That can't happen, Seattle is at its best when they are playing a physical game.

It might be more important to work over Dumba and Pouliot physically. See if you can wear them down for the second half of the game.

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