Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

There were lots of similarities between Seattle's 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night and their win this past Saturday up in Kamloops. The biggest similarity, of course, is that each game resulted in a win and two points helping the Thunderbirds stretch their current winning streak to seven games. That's one shy of their season-best eight game winning streak from late November to Mid-December. When is the last time the T-birds had two winning streaks in the same season of at least seven games?

Like the game Saturday in Kamloops, Seattle got out to an early two goal first period lead against Moose Jaw and looked like they were going to skate the opponent right off the ice. But as in the road game against the Blazers, the T-birds found it difficult adding to that lead Tuesday against the Warriors. And as in the game in Kamloops, the T-birds took a late third period penalty that led to the opposition being able to pull the goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage that resulted in a late goal.

Saturday up in Kamloops the 'Birds held on for a 3-2 win in regulation, Tuesday night at home Seattle surrendered the late tying goal and had to win it on Shea Theodore's shootout goal. It was the second time this season that Theodore had provided the T-birds with a shootout game winner (Oct. 11 in Kelowna was the first time). While neither win will qualify as a work of art, the bottom line is the T-birds got the win and that makes it a beauty. In other words, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; the beholder of the two points!

Seattle's offense struggled to play add on last night because, for one, their rhythm was disrupted by too many penalties. Hard to find continuity from shift to shift and roll four lines when your top players are spending too much time on the penalty kill. Most of those penalties were avoidable. Seattle relies on physical play but it has to be disciplined. Only Moose Jaw (879 PIMs) has been penalized more this season then Seattle's 875 PIMs.

Secondly I thought last night, much like Saturday in Kamloops, some of Seattle's forwards got away from team play...gotta stick to the systems.

Third, I really think they're missing Branden Troock's offensive production as he missed his 8th game due to injury. Meanwhile Mathew Barzal is not yet back to 100-percent, which is limiting his ice time. The fact they are winning without those two contributing right now is a good sign. Once again Seattle got offense Tuesday from a couple of rookies who before the game had combined for just five goals on the season. Last night Scott Eansor (his 3rd) and Ethan Bear (his 4th) were the T-birds goal scorers.
Can you get a better immediate return from a trade deadline deal then what the Thunderbirds have received from the Taran Kozun acquisition? Four games, four starts, four wins a 0.96 GAA and a save percentage of .966. Even before last night's stellar effort in goal, Kozun was honored as the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week. His play in net, along with better team defense, is a big reason why Seattle has allowed just eight goals in their last six games. Seattle felt they needed to add a goalie at the trade deadline. I'm sure there were plenty available. They got the right one at a reasonable price.

One of the drawbacks of only playing the teams from the Eastern Conference once per season is you only get one opportunity to see players like Brayden Point in person. Terrific player, lots of talent and he works hard every shift. After the game you say, fun to watch. Then you realize the damage he can do and you're glad you only play against him once per season.

The last four Januarys (2010-2013) the Thunderbirds had a combined total of 8 wins. This January they already have seven with four games to go, including three this weekend. Meanwhile, there are now just two dozen games left for Seattle in the regular season. Only one of those, February 16th versus Prince George, is against a team currently below .500.

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