Saturday, March 9, 2013

Point Well Taken

Seattle would have preferred the win and the two points, but they'll take the one point they earned Friday night in the, 2-1, shootout loss to the Prince George Cougars. The T-birds still have their playoff fate in their own hands and could take a huge step forward with a home ice win tonight against the Everett Silvertips. Seattle has earned 11 points in their their last 13 games. That pace is keeping them atop the race for the final two Western Conference playoff positions.

The 'Tips lost last night in Spokane so Seattle extended their lead over Everett to three points in the race for seventh place. No matter the results tonight, the 'Birds will remain in seventh place heading into next week's final three regular season games but a win tonight against the 'Tips would give Seattle a five point cushion, making it very difficult for Everett to pass them. A loss and it's anybody's ballgame!

Meanwhile, neither the T-birds or 'Tips can erase Prince George from their review mirrors. With the win last night the Cougars pulled to within four points of Everett for eighth place with two games in hand. PG is in Kennewick tonight to take on the Tri-City Americans, a team they beat at home on Tuesday, 3-0. The Cougars then travel up to Vancouver to face the pesky Giants Sunday afternoon. Prince George still has a near herculean task ahead of them in order to make the playoffs, with road games remaining against Spokane, Kelowna and Kamloops as well, but earning the two points last night makes that task more possible.

Meanwhile by earning one point last night the T-birds whittled down their magic number for clinching at least a tie for eighth place to seven. Had Seattle been able to maintain their pace from the first period over the final forty minutes, that magic number might have been shaved down to four. But credit Prince George. After a subpar first period the Cougars must have realized during the intermission that is was now or never, as far as their playoff hopes were concerned, and they pushed back and pushed back hard in the second period and got the equalizer. They were a desparate hockey team. They put the Thunderbirds back on their heels for those twenty minutes.

If not for a second straight night of stellar goaltending from Brandon Glover who made 18 second period saves, The T-birds could have been down three or four goals going into the second intermission. As he did the night before in Spokane when he stopped a third period penalty shot, Glover came up with the save of the night by stopping PG's Brandon Jacobs, not once but twice, on the same breakaway.

Here is the current pace to the playoffs heading into Saturday night's key showdown against Everett:

7. Seattle 55 pts with four games remaining (home vs. Everett, Tri-City and Portland, @ Portland), on pace for a 58 pt season.

8. Everett 52 pts with four games remaining (home vs. Victoria and Tri-City, @ Seattle @ Victoria), on pace for a 55 pt season.

9. Prince George 48 pts with six games remaining (home vs. Kamloops, one each @ Tri-City, Vancouver, Spokane, Kelowna and Kamloops), on pace for a 52 pt season.

Seattle will need to play a full 60 minutes tonight. They can't be satisfied with one good period. Everett will be as desparate if not more so then Prince George was Friday night because the 'Tips now have the Cougars nipping at their heels.

In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012

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