In each of their last two games, last Friday against Kelowna and this past Tuesday against Prince George, the T-birds seemed to be a more focused group on the ice. As a result Seattle pulled out three of a possible four points in those two games. It was the same focus they had two weeks ago when they hosted Portland and beat them, 4-3, to snap their 15 game winless skid. They were singularly a very determined squad in those game and it produced positive results.
What it means is this; when the T-birds bring their "A" game onto the ice, when they focus on playing as a team and working their systems the right way, they can skate with any club in the WHL. It means they're a pretty good hockey team when they do all things the right way. It's just that the train doesn't make it down the track if the entire crew isn't on board. It works that way for every team in every sport. Each player has too mentally decide they're going to be a hard working crew member on that train, and not a passenger just along for the ride.
A season ago, the T-birds finished one win short of the postseason, edged out by Everett for the last postseason berth. Two points behind them in the Western Conference standings and also missing out on the playoffs, were the Prince George Cougars. For both teams, it was close but no cigar. The two teams are in a similar battle with Everett again this season. Thre teams battling for two spots. in 2011-12 Seattle went just 1-3 against PG, including losing both games to the Cougars at the ShoWare Center.
Well, Seattle wasn't about to let that happen to them again this season. They played Tuesday's game with a mission. They treated it like it was a playoff game. They had their eye on the prize and they were very dominant at times in posting the 6-1 win. The T-birds seem pretty focused on not letting what happend last season, happen again this year. As a result, the T-birds now lead the season series with the Cougars, 2-1, with one game left to play head-to-head. That will be March 8th, back at the Sho.
Three stars are usually awarded to players who pick up all the points. It was tempting though, on Tuesday to toss a star on Riley Sheen. Sheen didn't register a point in the win over Prince George but he was all over the ice and created some good chances in the attacking zone. The same can be said for Connor Sanvido, who did pick up one assist. Sanvido was particularly strong on the PK. At times I had to check the jersey because he plays like Luke Lockhart when he kills off penalties.
Plus/minus is a flawed stat. You can get a minus when a teammate makes a turnover that leads directly to a goal. Your only crime is being on the ice at that time. Same can be said about earning a plus. A teammate makes a great play and scores and you could be standing on the ice admiring it and earn a plus. That said, it was nice to see d-man Jared Hauf lead the team Tuesday night with a +3.
Hauf sits at -24 on the season but I still contend he is the most improved player on the team from a season ago and his improvement continues as the season wears on. He's got so much more confidence now then he did early in the year, he's actually taking shots and attempting to score! It'll come Haufer, it'll come!
The T-birds will need that focus and determination they've shown in recent games because they've got four tough games coming up in the next six days, starting Friday at home agains the Winterhawks.
In memory of Bruce McDonald, 1971-2012