I had a choice today; rake the never ending leaves falling from the large tree in my front yard or write a blog entry about the slumping T-birds. So, I raked and I raked and I raked...
Seriously though, what we've seen from the Thunderbirds is a team that got off to a good start, but certainly wasn't without its flaws in jumping to a record 8 games over .500. And now we've seen a team that has dropped five in a row, not playing particularly well in 4 of those 5 games and surrendering far too many goals. In other words, a very inconsistent team. So exactly who are they? Probably somewhere right in the middle of the big high they started with and the recent low they've fallen into. I think they can just as easily reel off another 4 or 5 straight wins. We've seen them do it.
Remember Swift Current? they were riding high when they came out west to face the U.S. Division. They promptly lost five in a row and didn't look particularly good doing it. Well, guess what? They are currently riding an 8 game winning streak. It can be done.
Now, the T-birds just have to decide which side of that fence they want to be on after showing us both the good and the bad over the first 21 games. They just need to decide soon, because if they don't, like that pile of leaves I raked up in my yard, if you don't get going the good work you've already done will just blow away.
For awhile there, they were second in the league in goals scored but the offense has gone into hibernation in recent weeks. It's still there though, they just need to wake it up. Most teams will go through spells where the scoring will dry up for a stretch. The T-birds are experiencing that right now.
The difference is good teams will always play good, solid team defense and that can carry you through the offensive lapses and steal you a win or two. Unfortunately, Seattle has not played consistently good team defense yet this season. Even while running out to an 11-3-0-2 record, they were surrendering too many goals against. They need to take care of their own end.
When the Thunderbirds are at their best, they are a grinding, strong forechecking team. early in the season that physical forecheck was their defensive strength because it kept opponents pinned in their own zone. It caused turnovers that created scoring opportunities. Right now, with the exception of last Friday's game versus Victoria, we haven't seen that forecheck to the degree we saw it for much of the first 15 games.
It has been inconsistent at best and non-existent at worst. It's like their offense though, it's still there, lurking. It's still part of their arsenal. They just need to bring it out and deploy it each and every night, each and every period, each and every shift. It's a mental commitment they need to make to playing a physical game.
Remember, you can't make a sandwich without your bread and butter. Otherwise, all you have is a bunch of baloney.