The Thunderbirds had a chance to make a statement this weekend. Well, maybe they did, just the wrong one. It's a long 72 game schedule and hopefully the next time they get this chance, they make the right statement; the one that says they're going to compete night in and night out. The one that says they're in it to win it.
But this weekend, to use the train analogy, there were too many passengers and not enough hard working crew members trying to pull the train up the tracks. So, hopefully, with a hard week of practice everyone gets back on board and the team gets back to what they were doing for most of the first quarter of the season; putting in a hard sixty minutes of work on game night.
I think the first thing players have to realize is that the competition here in the Western Conference is much tougher then what they've seen from the teams in the East. As such you can't cut corners when playing your conference or division rivals. The T-birds have played 13 of their first 18 games against the West and are 6-5-0-2. That's respectable but with 47 games left against the West, including 33 against the rugged U.S. Division, they'll need to be better then .500 against those teams if they want to capture a top four seed and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
To do that, they'll need to be better on the road against the Western Conference where the T-birds are just 2-5, including 0-4 against the U.S. Division. Seattle has 23 road games still to play against the West including 16 U.S. Division road games so there is plenty of time to turn that around. But to do that, they'll have to bring their "A" game every night and on nights when they just don't have that "A" game, they can still bring their hard hats, lunch pails and hard work ethic because giving your best effort on nights when you don't have your best game can steal you a win or at least a point.
That is where the T-birds lost these games this weekend. Not because the skill level of their opponent was such that the T-birds couldn't compete with either Portland or Everett. Instead, those two teams just outworked Seattle. The Thunderbirds need to have that same appetite for hard work that their opponents did and they have to have it every night of the season.
The rest of November should tell us a lot about this team. There are ten games on the schedule the rest of the month and all but two are against the Western Conference. The combined record of the Western Conference teams the T-birds will be facing is 42-23-1-5. It starts this Friday when the T-birds host the Victoria Royals. Get those hard hats and lunch pails ready.