Sunday, December 30, 2012

Watcha Gonna do When the Well Runs Dry

There's no question what is ailing the Thunderbirds right now. Their offense has gone stone cold. 74 shots in two games against Everett and just two goals; 0-for-9 on the power play since their return from the break. Since their six goal outburts December 14th in Spokane (a 7-6 SO loss), the T-birds have scored just five goals, on 131 shots, in their last four games. They are priming the pump, but the well has gone dry.
And while they are averaging 33 shots a game in those four contests, the shots just don't seem to be that dangerous. They seem to be overthinking things, looking for a perfect scoring opportunity and bypassing more shooting opportunities. Nowhere is that more evident then on the power play where hesitation and some not so perfect passing is leading to too many of their shots being blocked.

The lack of offensive punch, from a team that had been averaging 3.3 goals per game, is wasting some fine goaltending from Brandon Glover. Glover stopped 28 of 30 shots each of the last two nights. When your goalie limits the opposition to just two goals in two straight games, you should win most nights.

Seattle has to rediscover the scoring touch and stop the bleeding that has seen their winless streak stretch to seven games.
The Thunderbirds clearly are missing their leading goal scorer, Roberts Lipsbergs, who is in Ufa, Russia competing in the World Juniors for Latvia. It also didn't help that their leading point producer, Conner Honey, left the game Saturday in the first period with an injury and didn't return. But their should be enough leadership and offense to get this team through that adversity.

This might seem like deja vu' all over again; another post-Christmas swoon that costs the T-birds a playoff spot. There is just one difference this time around, at least that I see. Other then Portland, the rest of the pack in the Western Conference is not running away from Seattle. Despite the seven game skid the T-birds are still just eight points out of fifth place in the conference playoff race and they have plenty of games left with those teams directly above them. But it is gut check time. They need to put their finger in the leak and limit the damage now.

With the WHL trading deadline fast approaching, I also believe this skid will be the impetus for a trade of some kind. The losing streak has shown that this team still is a piece or two away from making serious postseason noise. So, in that regard, if it had to happen, maybe the skid couldn't have come at a better time.

It doesn't get any easier for Seattle with the next two games on the road against the league's best team, Portland, and B.C. Division leading Kamloops. But remember, it is always darkest before the dawn.

In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012

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