The Thunderbirds would love to repeat their Tuesday night performance, and earn a third straight win, when they travel to Spokane Friday to face the Chiefs for the final time this season. The T-birds 3-1 win over Spokane Tuesday may have been their most complete effort of the season, definitely top three.
It may have been as close to playing over a full sixty minutes the way head coach Steve Konowalchuk wants them to play every night. They were physical, they were aggressive on the forecheck, they sacrificed the body to block shots, the passing was the best I've seen all season and they went hard to the net, especially on the power play. There were still too many defensive zone turnovers to my liking, so it wasn't perfect but it's the direction this team needs to go over the final three games.
Seth Swenson tallied just one goal the first half of the season with the Portland Winterhawks. Since coming over to Seattle at the trade deadline he has struck for nine more, including five on the power play. He's also added seven helpers giving him 16 points in 31 games. That projects out to about 36 points over the course of a season. But those numbers should go up next season. I could see Swenson easily doubling those numbers as a 19 year old when he'll get even more playing time. What I really have appreciated about his game is his willingness to go hard to the net to get those greasy goals.
So what has changed since that humbling 11-2 home loss to Portland Saturday? Well, for one desperation has set in as the T-birds can't afford any hiccups in their quest to earn a playoff spot. That loss to the Winterhawks may have been rock bottom, as well as a wake up call. I think the real change though, is that some of the younger players have decided to step forward and show some leadership. The aforementioned Swenson is one but also players like Troock and Honey. Even 16 year old defenseman Shea Theodore seems to have stepped up and is more aggressive with the puck.
Very good defensive game Wednesday by two forwards. Justin Hickman must have blocked a dozen shots all by himself and Chance Lund was a monster, especially on the penalty kill. When your goaltender is standing on his head to make save after save, you need help like that from the guys out in front.
Two very big wins but Seattle is still on the outside looking in at the playoffs. They do have a game in hand on 8th place Victoria. That game in hand though is the last game of the season, Sunday down in Portland. Best option for the T-birds is to get points in these next two games (Fri @ Spokane, Sat vs. Everett) and avoid a must win scenario in that season finale.
Here are the updated Pace to the Playoffs standings:
7. Everett on pace for 54.26 pts (3 games remaining: @Kelowna, @ Tri-City, @Seattle)
8. Victoria on pace for 52.45 pts (2 games remaining vs. Portland @ home)
9. Seattle on pace for 52.17 pts(3 games remaining:@ Spokane,vs. Everett,@ Portland)
10. Prince George on pace for 49.37 pts (2 games remaining: @ Kamloops, vs. Kamloops)