Sunday, December 18, 2011
Haming it Up
Bah humbug. That's the most PG-13 friendly thing I can print to tell you how I feel about the weekend series against Tri-City as the T-birds dropped both games.
The 5-1 loss in Kennewick was the T-birds 18th straight at the Toyota Center. Seattle had a very good start but then ran into penalty trouble and fell apart, wasting a solid first ten minutes of the game and a 1-0 lead.
If you let an opponent (or a building) get into your head, then you've defeated yourself. Just my opinion but that's what I think it comes down to over in Kennewick. The 'Birds just don't believe in themselves enough in that arena to overcome any adversity against such a good team.
As disappointing as that loss was the 5-3 loss at home Saturday was ten times worse. I'd call it the most devastating home loss in the 11 years I've been with the team. It's hard to understand how the team could play two nearly flawless periods against the top team in the league, building a three goal lead in the process, then fritter it away with such a lackadaisical final twenty minutes. It was their strong forechecking that helped build that lead and in the third period they abandoned that effort altogether. This is a bit harsh but I hope some of these players find some heart under their Christmas tree next weekend because it was sorely lacking on the ice in that final period.
Part of the problem is this team doesn't know how to win. They haven't developed a "killer instinct". Instead of hoping to get through that third period with the lead intact, or believing they had the game in the bag and feeling good about themselves for their effort through the first 40 minutes, they should have come out and played even harder then they did in the first two periods. They should have treated that third period as though it was a 0-0 game and not a 3-0 lead.
Just go back to Tri-City and the way they played the third period Friday night at home with a three goal lead. The came out attacking.
He may not have the most goals or the most points and he still takes the occasional, ill-timed penalty, but there is a reason why, from time to time, 17-year old Justin Hickman is wearing an "A" on his jersey. It's because he plays the system the way the coaches want it played and he plays all out. He's immensely coachable, sticks up for his teammates and he shows natural leadership.
His backchecking is was led to the Colin Jacobs goal that gave Seattle the 3-0 lead in the second period. He's the kind of player this team needs more of and the type of player this team needs to build around. Conner Honey, once he gets comfortable here, is going to be the same type of player and along with Branden Troock, Seattle has a solid trio of 17 year old forwards.
When Colin Jacobs arrived on the scene a few years ago I took the first syllable from his first name and the first syllable from his last name and nicknamed him CoJac, similar to the Kojak character Telly Savalas played on the TV detecive show from the 1970s.
The other day T-bird defenseman Cason Machacek asked me, "Who's Kojak?" If I didn't before I now feel officially old around these players.
Once again the ladies were on the ice after the game, participating in the annual Fred Meyer Chrstmas Ham Puck shoot.
Congrats to all the winners!