Social Icons

twitterfacebookgoogle pluslinkedinrss feedemail


Hockey Challenge 2014

Recent Articles


A sad day has arrived...

Many of you have no doubt noticed the dwindling frequency of my posts over the past year. I knew this day would eventually arrive and sadly I think I have realized this week that the time has come for me to take an extended hiatus from Let's Go Birds.

For 1035 posts (this one being 1036) I have sincerely enjoyed writing about the hockey team I grew up watching. For the better part of 8 (mostly frustrating and ultimately disappointing) seasons I have attempted to break down games, players, transactions and just about anything that has happened to the Seattle Thunderbirds (at least the stuff I think that matters).

I could fill up this section with the excuses I have for taking a "break" and the fact is that none of you will likely care (and shouldn't). Occam's razor is loosely interpreted to mean that the simplest of explanations among competing hypotheses is the one that should be selected. Well... my excuse is that life has simply gotten in the way.

Trust me when I tell you that my passion for Tbirds hockey has not changed. I enjoy watching the game and the team as much as I ever have. My absence from games and my lack of time to write have drained my motivation to provide quality content beyond the most obvious and mundane observations. I was never going to be able to operate Let's Go Birds in a half assed way and my lack of both quantity and quality has compounded my frustrations with trying to keep things going.

I'm not even sure I'm doing a very good job of explaining myself right now.

This isn't necessarily a retirement.

Perhaps, at some point down the road, I will pick this up again and get things rolling. Perhaps I won't. I'm really looking forward to the next time I get to watch the team play and not have to worry about analyzing what is going on and whether I have something intelligent to write about.

My one true regret will probably be the donations to the Ronald McDonald House that I will miss for the Hockey Challenge each year. So do me a favor... keep donating to a great cause on my behalf. I can promise that each year I will still find the time to raise money and play a little hockey for The Challenge.

Finally. From the bottom of my heart... I want to thank everyone who has ever read this blog and followed what we do. I want to thank Jon for trying to help me keep this thing going and trying to pick up the slack for me when his time allowed.

It has been a pretty fun ride. Thanks for letting me be a part of things and building this blog into what it was.


Seattle and U.S. Division Computer Ratings

Every season I like to periodically update everyone on the WHL Massey Ratings and I haven't done that yet this season. So without further ado... let's update.

Seattle currently sits 9th in the WHL in current rating and 5th in "Power Rating" (as a reminder, Power Rating is a measure that attempts to predict how good a team will be going forward). So the Massey Ratings are expecting Seattle to play a bit better as the season moves along.

They are 13th in Offense, 6th in Defense and they have the 21st "Home Ice Advantage". (Another reminder that HIA isn't a pure measure of how good a team is at home but rather how much their performance is impacted by playing at home. If a team wins all their games at home but loses all their road games they're going to have a much higher HIA than a team that wins all their home games and all their road games).

They have played the 3rd toughest schedule and they have the #1 toughest schedule for the remainder of the season.

Why have they played such a tough schedule and will continue to play such a tough schedule?

The U.S. Division (and also the BC Division). The U.S. Division ranks 2nd in strength behind the B.C. Division. This makes the Western Conference tougher than the Eastern Conference to this point in the season.

Seattle has an opportunity to take advantage of a weaker Division on this road trip.

Seattle has remaining "expected wins" of 26 and "expected losses" of 29 which would finish their record at 33-35-2-1. Some of those 29 losses will no doubt come in OT or the Shootout so their expected point total of 69 should probably inch closer to 75 depending on how many of those "expected losses" are pushed to the extra frame.

Kelowna is the top rated team. Followed in order by Brandon, Everett, Medicine Hat, Tri-City, Prince George, Kamloops, Spokane and then Seattle. Portland checks in at #11 but have a Power Rating of 5th. So don't expect the struggles to continue too much for the Winterhawks.

On the flip side, the MR's think we should see some regression from PG, Kamloops and Spokane but not from the Everett Silvertips.

Kelowna has expected wins of 60! Wow. That will probably regress a little but a repeat of their 57 wins from a year ago seems quite reasonable at this point.


Shoot the Puck... at the "right time"

I tweeted about this the other day and I meant to expand on it and my schedule just hasn't allowed for it (something that has become far too common these days). Seattle will host the Red Deer Rebels tonight and I will be watching closely how many times Seattle hits the net with the puck.

Seattle fired a ton of pucks at the net Saturday night and just wasn't able to score, losing to the Vancouver Giants 1-0 but the fact that they got those pucks to the net is a sign that good things should start happening more often (provided they keep shooting... I'll get to that).

Currently, Seattle has a shooting percentage of 8.434% which is "good" for 3rd worst in the league. Kelowna leads the league in shooting percentage at 15.717% and while I don't expect Seattle to get themselves up to 15% anytime soon I also don't expect them to shoot this poorly for the entire season.

Last season, the worst shooting team in the WHL was Lethbridge at 8.113%, so I suppose it is possible that Seattle really is "this" bad and things won't improve. If they don't... you can expect them to be near the bottom of the standings as the worst shooting teams in the league last year were Lethbridge, Kamloops, Moose Jaw and Tri-City (aka, not good company).

Seattle has to continue to get pucks to the net while they are playing 5x5 and continue to be selective on the Power Play. I know some people love to yell "shooooooooot" when teams are on the Power Play but the time to yell "shoooooooot" is actually when they are at even strength. Studies have shown (just trust me here... I'm too tired to source it) that more shots generally equal more goals and particularly at even strength.

The catch-22 is that you have a bunch of 16-20 year old boys/men who just got finished shooting the puck 38 times on net and not scoring and it would be somewhat reasonable for them to collectively be more selective with their shots. This of course... would be a mistake. Seattle is only averaging 27.8 shots on goal per game and that is after getting those 38 against Vancouver. By contrast, league average is roughly 30.8 and Medicine Hat leads the league at 35.8 shots on goal per game.

The challenge of the coaching staff (and I have to assume they are doing this) is to make sure they know that they have to keep shooting the puck and that eventually they will get some lucky bounces to go along with the quality goals that they will also score.

WHL Scoreboard