The Thunderbirds had their six game winning streak snapped Saturday night in Everett, after being shutout by Carter Hart, 2-0. They say you are only as good as your last game but if this team is going to win six out of every seven games and seven of every ten, I'm not going to quibble. At that pace you're looking at what could be a 48-50 win campaign.
It wasn't lack of effort that cost them a seventh straight win. For large stretches of that game's first two periods, Seattle controlled the puck and tempo with their bread and butter; a suffocating forecheck. No, it was a couple of turnovers and a hot goaltender that did them in. As we've said before, goalies can steal a few wins for their team over the course of a season and Hart definitely did that Saturday night. Seattle put 15 shots on goal in that fateful second period, many were quality chances. When the period was over though, there were down 2-0.
If I'm going to be nitpicky the one area I would have liked to see more consistency from Seattle in that game was a bigger presence in front of the Everett goal. Especially after falling behind. When they did get to the front of the net is when they were the most dangerous. Alexander True was one who did that well. He didn't get rewarded on a terrific redirect on a T-Birds power play. The Volcan-Eansor-Watson line was willing to go to the dirty areas looking for greasy goals too. Not all the forwards were willing to do that every shift though.
Everett must have been guilty of icing the puck at least a dozen times, if not more. This meant a lot of attacking zone faceoffs for Seattle. The T-Birds were winning most of those faceoffs too. I mean I don't think 16-year-old Matthew Wedman lost a draw all night. When you win an offensive zone draw and get the puck back to the point, someone has got to go immediately to the front of the net. When Seattle did that, they created a scoring chance, when they didn't they struggled to get the puck off the perimeter. Sometimes to get into the "house" (the area below the hashmarks and above the crease, right in front of the goal) you have to break a window or knock down a door. Seemed to me, at times, the T-Birds were ringing the doorbell and waiting for an invite in.
For the second straight road game Seattle was going hard from the opening faceoff. They controlled much of the first period in Vancouver Friday night and did so again Saturday in Everett. They just didn't reward themselves for that effort. The T-Birds are five road games into the season and have yet to score a first period road goal. But, they have also limited the opposition to just one first period goal in their last three road games and that came back on October 11th down in Portland.
The T-Birds effort in the loss to Everett wasn't much different then their effort in the two wins this past week over Tri-City and Vancouver. Only the result was different. Did we really think Seattle was going to go through the remainder of the season unbeaten? I don't think I need a record book to know no team has gone 70-1-1-0. One major difference against Everett, as opposed to what they did against Tri-City and Vancouver? Seattle never played with the lead against the 'Tips and Everett was able to dictate the play in the third period. The night before against the Giants, with the lead, Seattle dominated the final 20 minutes. Wednesday at home against the Americans, once Seattle got the lead they held on to it with a solid finish.
One area Seattle was able to clean up on the weekend was in the discipline department. After surrendering 15 power play chances in their previous three games, the T-birds were only shorthanded three times combined against the Giants and Silvertips. That was important because those two teams started the weekend ranked #1 and #2 in the league on the power play. Combined they finished 0-for-3. If you didn't know better, on Everett's lone power play chance Saturday night you would have thought Seattle was the team skating with the extra attacker. That's how affective the T-Birds lone penalty kill was. As a result, Seattle now sits third in the league on the penalty kill at 85.4%.
Let's look at the big picture. The T-Birds just won six in a row. They took two of three this past week and two of those three games were on the road. They've allowed two or fewer goals in their last seven games and in their last eight games have only once allowed their opponent to put more then 25 shots on goal. When was the last time an opponent had 30 or more shots on goal against Seattle? Last season. There are a lot of things to complain about in this world but the T-Birds losing once in two weeks isn't one of them.
My T-Birds three stars of the week:
3rd Star (Tie). Goaltender Taz Burman. Had his best game to date as a T-Bird in Friday's 3-1 win over Vancouver. Came a big toe's length away from a shutout as he stopped 21 of 22 shots. 3-0 in his last three starts with a 1.62 GAA and .924 SAV%. Toss out that first period back on October 4th in Kennewick and he's been stellar.
Defenseman Ethan Bear. Got his first two goals of the season in Seattle's 3-2 win Wednesday versus Tri-City, including the game winner. Added an assist Friday in Vancouver. Now at +5 on the season, second best on the team.
2nd Star: Center Alexander True. Keyed the T-Birds win Friday against the Giants with a heady play behind the Vancouver goal that led to him scoring the games first goal. He's becoming a big net front presence for the T-Birds, particularly on the power play and continues to win in the faceoff circle. His offseason commitment to getting stronger is paying off early in the season. A year ago, in injury shortened season, he had 12 points in 38 games (6g, 6a). Already this season in just 10 games has seven points (5g, 2a).
1st Star: Center Scott Eansor. Was probably the T-Birds best, if not the most consistent, player in the loss Saturday. Had one goal this week but affects the game even when he's not getting his name on the scoresheet with a non-stop motor that allows him to disrupt the oppositions break outs. You get the feeling that he and his linemates, Nolan Volcan and Jamal Watson, are on the verge of an offensive explosion. They had a couple such chances versus Everett that just came up short.