Monday, February 4, 2013

What's the Point?

There are now 19 games left in the Thunderbirds season so every point they earn over this final month is crucial. Seattle is locked in a tight battle with Everett and Prince George for the 7th and 8th playoff seeds in the Western Conference. That's three teams battling for two spots and eight points separating the three clubs. At the moment, Seattle is in the 8th and final playoff position. The T-birds currently sit four points behind 7th place Everett with a game in hand. Meanwhile the 'Birds are four points up on 9th place Prince George.

Saturday night all three teams lost in either overtime or a shootout so all earned one point and there was no change in the standings. I guess you can say no harm no foul but in Seattle's case you hate to leave points on the ice. The T-birds had a late one goal lead at home against Tri-City but the Americans came back to tie and then win the game in overtime. That's twice on the recently completed four game homestand that the T-birds let a third period lead slip away. Players need to heed the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over, 'til it's over!" Most of the players on this team haven't had a lot of success yet at the WHL level, so they are still learning that no lead is safe and you play to the final horn. Though, it wasn't that players stopped playing, it was just that they got away from their systems and playing the way they did in building their lead through the first two periods.

Nineteen games left means there are 38 points to be had. Eleven of the T-birds final 19 games will be on home ice, where they have earned points in 5 of their last 6 games. That's a trend they hope to see continue. Still, to get to the postseason, the T-birds will have to earn some points in those final 8 road games. The first two come up this week as they travel to Victoria for games Tuesday and Wednesday against the Royals.

Seth Swenson had a solid weekend for the T-birds, in fact Swenson had a pretty good homestand, earning 1g 3a 4pts +3 in the four games. Swenson seems to be hitting his stride at the right time of the year. He has 33 pts (15g, 18a) in 53 games but his pace is picking up over the last month. He's already ahead of his production from a season ago (11g, 13a)and is only a -6 on the year. Last season he finished at -34. And a nice trend is developing lately for Seattle in regards to the plus/minus stat. A lot of those large minus numbers are starting to shrink down as the team continues to control puck possession more effectively, decrease the amount of shots against and improves its overall defensive zone coverage.

In Memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012

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