Saturday, December 29, 2012

Juuuuust a bit Outside

There's outshooting your opponent and then there is shooting yourself out of a game. The T-birds did both last night in their 2-1 loss to Everett. Seattle was credited with 39 shots (to Everett's 30) but it was the shots Seattle had that didn't end up on goal that were the difference against the Silvertips.

First, the Thunderbirds must have had at least 10-12 shots from prime scoring areas that didn't even hit the net. Shea Theodore's gun sights must have been off because he put at least four shots wide of the goal. Secondly, how many shots did the T-birds pass up, especially on that 5-on-3 power play, looking for the perfect shot or the "cute" goal?

In those situations, you can't be too finicky. Just shoot the puck and go hard to the net and bang in a rebound. Until it was too late, the T-birds got very little traffic in front of Everett goalie Austin Lotz.

Once again, a bad defensive zone turnover (are there any good ones?) led to the winning goal. They've really got to cut down/eliminate these unforced errors inside their own blue line. They're killing them.

For the second straight home game the T-birds have a strong start but don't build off it, but rather fall off from it. Yes, they did finish the game with an unsuccessful flourish but that was desperation hockey after they fell behind. They need that mindset for 60 minutes.

Seattle has now dropped four in a row at home. After a strong start at home this year, Seattle is now just a game above .500 at the ShoWare Center. They have to do a better job of using the home rink to their advantage. Once again there was a big crowd on hand, waiting to explode, and the 'Birds didn't feed off of that. And while they were in it until the bitter end, you just got the sense they weren't doing enough things well to pull it out.

It was encouraging to see Branden Troock come out after a two and a half month layoff and play a, mostly, strong game. But late in a one goal game you can't take a two and a half minute shift, especially when the other team is getting fresher legs on the ice with quick line changes.
I'm sure after missing so much ice time, Troock just wants to contribute; do something to change the complexion of a game, but he has to stick to the systems and not go rogue. That said, I liked his first period. He did some good work on the forecheck and created a few scoring chances. If he can stay healthy, plus the return of Roberts Lipsbergs in a week or so from World Juniors, The T-birds will have four solid forward lines.

Meanwhile, fellow Edmontonian Conner Honey just keeps getting better and better. He now leads the team in scoring with 33 points (10g, 23a) and is on pace for a 66 point season. He's solid at both ends of the ice and compliments his natural skills with hustle and smart play. He's the prototype of what this team needs more of.

It was nice to have Steve McDonald, the brother of my late broadcast partner Bruce, sitting up in the booth for the game. Next time he'll need to bring a little puck luck with him.

In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012

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