No question last night in Portland the T-birds inability to capitalize on their many power play chances, especially in the second period, kept them from getting a better result. Seattle ended the game just 1 of 7 with the man advantage. They essentially had four straight power plays to begin the second period but scored only on #3.
Really, the credit has to go to Portland's penalty killers. They came into the game #2 in the league on the PK and they showed why. They were getting their sticks to T-bird passes quicker then the T-birds were. They aggressively challenged Seattle's point men. As soon as a puck got near a 'Birds player in the slot they were physical with those T-birds players.
Say what you will about the Portland situation this week but that team is well coached. Yes, they are very talented but the players have also bought into that program hook, line and sinker. They run their systems to near perfection. And I also know this, it is what Thunderbirds head coach Steve Konowalchuk wants from his players too; 100 percent commitment. Want? Heck, he should demand it. It's how he played. To my way of thinking, that starts upstairs, between the ears. You have to mentally committ yourself to the team's plan. That means leaving it on the ice every shift, playing with purpose every moment and worrying about your effort, not the opponents.
Seattle's effort against the Winterhawks last night was much better then the last three times they played. They seemed more committed to playing 60 minutes. After giving up a couple of goals early in the third (that turned a one goal game into a 4-1 Portland advantage), we could have seen a case of "oh no, here we go again". You know, those moments from Portland games in the recent past where the Winterhawks pulled away, the T-birds stop skating and before you know it Seattle is facing a 5-6 goal deficit. That didn't happen last night. Seattle got the game back to within two because they kept playing hard.
That was a big learning moment for this team last night. Sure they didn't push back all the way and eventually lost, 5-2. but they didn't slink away either. Let's hope they take that into the two home games this weekend against Kelowna and Kamloops, the top two teams in the B.C. Division.
Jerret Smith had a good start to his rookie campaing with the T-birds. But lately I hadn't noticed the defenseman on the ice. He wasn't playing poorly, he just wasn't making some of those positive plays that made him standout earlier. Last night I thought he stepped up and had a positive impact.
In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012