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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Jon and Tyler Predict The Future, Part 2


I really hope they don’t make a decision on someone like Kozun based on a few exhibition games and a small handful of regular season games. I will ask you, what seems more indicative of his talent level? The .934 he posted in 10 games in January last year? The .928 he posted in 24 games with Seattle? Or a few exhibition games in August/September? I’m hoping the bigger sample size wins out but you never know. In fairness, he did post a .897 in 29 games with Kamloops but he posted a .914 in in 20 games with Kamloops the year before.  

With that being said I think they keep Kozun to stabilize the defensive core, I think they keep Wardley (assuming he doesn't sign a contract) because his skill set is more difficult to replace and I think Hickman stays because he’s your Captain and forms a really good line with Barzal and Gropp when healthy.

You mentioned Coach K’s “system”… I think I’m generally a pretty knowledgeable hockey fan but I admit that I still have so much to learn. One thing I can’t quite figure out is what kind of style of play Coach K is really trying to establish with the players. That’s not to say that I think anything he is doing is wrong, it’s clear that he values hard work, get pucks to the net, etc. Those things are pretty obvious. To me, style goes well beyond the obvious things, it moves into more complex ideas such as, do they want to trap in the neutral zone? Do they want to chip and forecheck in the corners? Do they want to keep and carry the puck into the offensive zone? Do they hang back and take care of defense first or do they play a wide open style?  If you were to ask me to describe the Steve Konowalchuk Thunderbirds, I’m not sure I could describe any kind of calling card. So educate me Jon (I smirked writing that), tell me what the identity (playing style) of the Coach K Thunderbirds is?


I would describe his style as a responsible, defensive first, hard working chip and attack.  I typed up an entire paragraph trying to explain what I meant, but even I was confused over it, so I took it out.  But I think his style is one that starts from the goaltender and works it’s way out.  It's goal is to get the puck out to a forward that is moving, and it is his job to identify an odd man rush, or chip the puck to a corner and attack the defense.

In Coach K’s first couple seasons, I don't think Seattle had the talent, especially on defense, to really make this a highly successful strategy.  The style was played more out of necessity because by the time the puck got out, the players were tired and had to change.  In the past couple of years, Seattle has had the skill on defense, and the size up front to work the chip in and attack the defender style, and we have seen it work.
The thing that I think makes a coach great, instead of average is how well they can adapt the style of play to match the personnel on the team.  I am not so sure the style played in the past will have the same effect because I think Seattle has more talented players, that are less physical.  I think the offense will need to open up slightly to allow players like Barzal, Pederson, etc somewhat more freedom to skate the puck and not dump as much.  I think you would describe this as a puck control style of play.  But, the number one focus of each player still needs to be responsibly in the defensive zone.


So let’s get down to the easy lazy stuff that people really want. Here is my set of predictions, bold and not so bold.

We will see some very exciting and encouraging flashes of talent from guys like Eansor, Pederson, Kolesar, Edler, Volcan, True and Baltram but age and inconsistency leaves Seattle in a disappointing 5th in the west. Everett finishes 4th in a flip flop of the standing from last year but Seattle once again wins their first round series again (I’m assuming they match up in the new WHL playoff format) and gives Portland a serious scare before falling to the Winterhawks in Round 2 of the playoffs.

Barzal tops 60 assists and his linemate Gropp pots 35 goals and put himself solidly in 1st round draft pick consideration.

Theodore misses the first 3 games of the season but returns to the Tbirds lineup for the October 3rd tilt in Portland and nets a goal and two assists to lead Seattle to a win against their I5 rivals on the road. In 65 games he also tops 60 assists but his goals come down slightly to 20 while other players help carry the scoring load.

Taran Kozun posts solid numbers with a .910 save percentage but is pushed by rookie Logan Flodell who matches his .910 in 23 games in goal. Danny Mumaugh is traded to Calgary for a draft pick and Seattle uses a draft pick to pick up an unheralded 19 year old winger.

Scott Eansor posts 40 points.

Ethan Bear doubles his point total to 38.

Jared Smith is steady again and posts 30 points but also tops a +20 rating pairing with Theodore.

Evan Wardley registers over 200 PIMs and posts a positive Plus/Minus rating for the first time in his career. Justin Hickman finishes 2nd in PIMs and Luke Osterman drops the mitts enough to finish 3rd.

Alexander True and Florian Baltram both find the transition tougher than expected and both finish with 15-20 points but come on strong as the season closes and position to themselves for breakouts in 2015-16.


Wow, now those are some predictions.

I’m sticking to what I have said for a while now.  Seattle finishes 2nd in the division, and Tri finishes 3rd.  That means they play against each other, and Comrie makes it interesting for Tri, but Seattle wins in 5 on home ice.  Then they get to face Portland like you said, and I agree give them a run for things, before losing in 6 games.

Barzal gets traded for a 19 year old scorer, oh, kidding.  I think the Barzal, Gropp, Hickman line combine for 70 goals, and are the 2nd most feared line after Petan and Bjorkstrand, and whomever is their linemate.

Theodore will almost average an assist a game with 65, and I will go with 25 goals.

Kozun gets traded the 2nd week of the season, and Mumaugh plays the bulk of the games, then gets hurt, and Flodell comes in and plays the rest of the season and playoffs.

Overall, Seattle scores 240 goals, the same amount of goals as last year.  But they cut the goals against down by .5 per game, ending up at 215.

Ethan Bear continues to rise on the draft charts, and ends up being the last pick of the 1st round in the NHL, giving Seattle 3 - 1st rounders next summer.

About the time I finally learn how to spell Wardley’s name correct, he signs a contract and plays this season in the AHL.

Seattle’s rookie of the year (and there are a lot of choices for this one) is Nick Holowko, who impresses coaches so much, he is on the 3rd line, and pots 10 goals.


Anonymous said...

Does the injury to Theodore change the over age picture at all? Could we see Kozun get traded in order to keep Henry and Wardley?

Anonymous said...

His style will be "dump the puck into the corner and chase". Don't believe me, watch a few games.

Anonymous said...

Here's another prediction. WHL Live still sucks. Can't log on through the iPad or iPhone because the page cant't be found.

WHL Scoreboard