Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lesson Learned?

Maybe on any other day, I'd be grossly upset with how the Thunderbirds squandered their 4-goal third period lead to Spokane and eventually lost, 7-6, in a shootout. but in light of the tragic events back in Connecticut, I'm just going to be tepidly disappointed. There's the game of hockey, and then there is the reality of life and that reality took precedence yesterday.

Let's accentuate the positive. Seattle played a tremendous road game for 45-50 minutes. For two and a half periods their penalty killing was phenomenal. With their physical play, they made Spokane, with one of the top records in the WHL, look pedestrian.

Another positive? Seattle has now earned 5 of a possible 6 points in their last three road games, all against U.S. Division teams. Third period collapse aside, I'll take 5 out of 6 points on the road every week. Furthering that point, in their last three road games, the 'Birds have scored 19 goals.

I really like the way Taylor Green played along side Mitch Elliot and Daniel Wray. Green, normally a defenseman, centered that fourth line and did a good job on faceoffs and in winning some puck battles in the offensive zone. Seattle is top heavy now with 17-year old defensemen.
If Green's move up to forward is permanent, it helps alleviate that logjam moving forward (no pun intended). If not, it still gives the coaches an option from game to game because they can use Green in a number of situations.

I don't want to dwell too much on the negative. Obviously getting only two shots in the third period was not good. They took silly, after the whistle, penalties. The last thing you should do when holding a four goal lead is give the opponent an easier opportunity to get back in the game.

The T-birds have to do a better job defending late in games. In their last three games Seattle has surrendered 18 goals and half of them have come in the third period, with the game still on the line. The T-birds have been outscored 8-2 in the third period during their current three game losing streak.

Lastly, learn how to win. When is the last time the T-birds had a 4-goal lead with almost 20 minutes left? This was almost a new experience for this group. I think there were some players who thought this game was over once they established that 4-goal cushion. Team play turned into individual play. They need to develop a killer instinct. When you have a team down, finsish them off.

In the end it wasn't anything Spokane did differently that turned the tide in that game. No, it was all the things Seattle did wrong that snathced defeat from the jaws of victory.

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