Monday, October 27, 2014

Early Season Thoughts

Goaltenders and Defensive Play
Saturday's game was the first time the Tigers let in more than 2 goals in a game. Both Tiger goalies are #1, and #2 in GAA, in the whl. Schneider hasn't lost a game yet with the Tigers.

Last Saturday saw the Hitmen score 5 goals by planting a forward in front of the net almost every time they were in the Tigers zone. You can bet other teams will pick up on that and try to use a similar strategy, so the Tigers defense will have to get better at boxing guys out.

Their defense has been strong. They will give up a chance every once in a while, however it is usually only one and done.

Tommy Vannelli
Everyone knows he is a great player but I like the aggressiveness and attitude he is showing. A lot more physical and hard to play against. Might need to tone down on the refs, but I like his increased aggression.

Ty Stanton
His confidence is picking back up. He had a terrible start IMO, but is showing a lot of poise and confidence with the puck. He is another player that is hard to play against with love taps, getting under the opponents skin.  He is starting to show more of a play-making side to his puck carrying. His long reach and skating has a lot of potential. I also like the aggressiveness he has been showing.

Markus Eisenschmid
Very hard work ethic in both zones. He has already equaled his goal total of last year. His speed is a bit deceiving.

Chad Butcher
I think  saying this guy was poised for a breakout year, everyone would look at you and say duuhh. He is off to a very fast start with 10 goals in 13 games, and is a player the opposition should keep an eye on when he is on the ice. The way he plays its hard to catch up to him to knock him off the puck.

Alex Mowbray
Has almost doubled his point totals from last season in 1/3 of the games played. Very good at protecting the puck down low with playing a speed game, he is also one of the more physical forwards. He has improved a ton, and I feel the coaches are way more confident putting him on the ice compared to last season.

Ty Schultz
He has so far won me over as one of the better new defenceman. This point in the season is usually the time the rookies/new players start to fade a bit from fast starts, but yesterday's game against Calgary blew me away with how much he has improved this year. I think he will make the NHL scouting Lists by seasons end if he keeps up his consistency and solid play. He is winning battles against more experienced opposition. Seeing a young player do that is often a sign of becoming a breakout player. It is still early in the season, but lets hope  he can keep it up as he is playing really well.

David Quenneville
Against Calgary there were a couple times he looked like a 16 yr old rookie  in his own zone. He was reaching out past his centre of balance deadening his speed, and his pokechecks weren't very effective. On a good note his shot from the point already looks pretty deadly, and has a solid first pass. He will take a bit of seasoning defensively, but has future powerplay Quarterback written on him.

Matt Staples
The odd guy out on the back-end but he has been filling in very nicely up front. Bringing a solid presence with a strong work ethic up front. I have really liked him filling in on the 3rd/4th line. His defensive experience is great to have. Sometimes with the 3rd and 4th lines, having them out in your own zone can be a bit frightening, but having staples as a Defenceman out there on the wing can be more comforting.

Trevor Cox
Kind of saw this slump coming a few games away. He has stopped moving his feet, doing a lot of gliding. At this level when you don't move your feet or hesitate I think your more likely to get injured. I'd like to see him keeping his feet moving 100% of the time just to get back into a groove. Their were spurts of it last game against calgary, towards the end and hopefully getting that empty net goal is a bit of a confidence boost to get him going again.

Blake Penner
Listed out as week to week...


6 on 5 Play
Against Calgary was awefully scary. How many times calgary passed to the 6th guy at the faceoff circle, then either shot, or went cross ice was dangerous. The Tigers were running around  in their own zone, and I thought they were a bit lucky to get that empty netter.

Calgary Hitmen
The Tigers have played them 4 times, and have taken 7 of 8 points. They only play them 2 more times real close together in February.

Next Up
The Tigers take on the Rebels in Red Deer Tuesday. They had a real hard fought game last time they played each other.

 Next Saturday at home the Tigers have a big matchup against Brandon. Brandon is the other team in the conference that is off to a really hot start. It will be the best offence in Brandon, vs the Best Defence in the Tigers.

Edit: Adding More

Tyler Lewington
Bringing a very solid play every night. I thought last season at the midway point he was performing below expectations, and searching the blog you could probably find comments somewhere mentioning it. Towards the end of last season something clicked for him. In the playoffs he was night in and out one of the best Defenceman on the ice.   He has continued that strong play this season. He has stepped up with a big brother mentality taking care of teammates and providing a physical force when needed. Very defensively solid.

Kyle Becker
Not really sure how or why he went from being a player fans liked to pick on to becoming more of a fan favorite in one season.... He is playing a little more aggressively(maybe thats it), and not afraid to stand up for his teammates in scrums. He has found a liking to join the rush in key times providing another outlet, when the forwards do some good defensive work down low, and are a bit behind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tigers Send Allan to Seattle

Medicine Hat, AB -- The Medicine Hat Tigers on Monday evening made a trade with the Seattle Thunderbirds, sending defenceman Scott Allan to the west coast.

Allan was entering his 2nd season with the Tigers after appearing in 34 games last year, recording 0 points and 24 penalty minutes. Allan came to the Tigers after playing in the Heritage Junior B League with the Banff Academy.

Allan, 6'6 and 235 lbs, appeared in 3 games so far this season, recording a -1 rating and getting into a fight in Lethbridge in the season opener.

"The Tigers would like to thank Scott for his contributions to the Tigers both on and off the ice," stated Head Coach and General Manager Shaun Clouston, "We wish Scott all the best in Seattle."


Thoughts
This is a win-win trade for Seattle. I think a 5th round pick is really good value for the potential that Allan has. He is big, mobile, not afraid to be mean. He has room to pack on some muscle. He is a little raw, but his potential is really high. He would be a perfect 3rd line guy, who could possibly come into his own, be a solid 2nd next year. Then a big #1 by his 20 yr old year. He still has a lot of work ahead of him, but the potential is there.

Defense down to 8

Lewington Vannelli
Stanton Becker
Quenneville Schultz
Staples
Hobbs

Still 1 too many. Staples hasn't seen action in 4 games. Staples is a solid 2nd pairing guy, who would be around for his overage season.  

Overage Deadline
Thursday of this week. overage Jared Rathjen is still a member of the Tigers. I feel for Rathjen a 20 yr old overage goaltender with an unfortunate condition that is tbd. Just looking around the whl it doesn't look like their will be much movement, as the big name from Kelowna got moved to the broncos.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tigers Destroy Royal 8-2

If you missed this one, you missed a great game. It had a playoff style, rough and tumble, battle for every inch type feel to this one. A Highly Entertaining game.

The Royals tried to exert themselves physically against the Tigers, and the Tigers made them pay with numerous odd man rushes, powerplays, and big hits. The Tigers went 4 for 11 on the powerplay. I think anytime a team spends 22 minutes in the box your not giving yourself a good chance to win.

The Royals aren't a bad team they have a lot of team speed The Tigers were able to get them off their game and punish them on the scoreboard.

I noticed in the third period the royals were really trying to line the Tigers up. But they would only catch a piece of them and then subsequently get hit and knocked over by one of the Tigers forwards in for support.

The Tigers are flying and it is fun to watch. 

So many guys are playing every shift like its their last shift, and it has a good effect on everybody.

I was impressed by the Hobbs Fight. Owre got nailed a couple times, one was a late hit and arguably a penalty. Hobbs went down whacked the guy a couple times and took him on. Hobbs received an extra 2 minutes but its the type of fight that says you can't do that and stood up for his teammates.

 Lewington's fight I didn't like. He took on a 3rd/4th line guy who was trying to start something at the end of the period, but wasn't really a threat.

Eisenschmid, Mowbray, Bradley, Schultz, Shaw, have all been playing very well and above expectations early in the season. I hope they can continue that.

The Tigers aren't just winning close games right now they are dominating them without one of their top forwards in Anthony Ast.

Let's hope they can continue this great play, and keep the streak going. 9 Games in and they haven't allowed more than 2 goals in a game.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tigers Crack CHL Top Ten

BMO CHL Top 10 Rankings – Week 3 
Rank:
Team:
Last Week Rank:
Number of Weeks Ranked:
1
Rimouski Oceanic (8-1-0-0)
1
3
2
Kelowna Rockets (7-0-0-0)
4
3
3
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (4-0-0-0)
5
3
4
Brandon Wheat Kings (5-0-1-0)
3
3
5
Erie Otters (4-0-0-0)
7
2
6
Medicine Hat Tigers (6-1-0-0)
-
1
7
Moncton Wildcats (6-2-0-0)
-
1
8
Oshawa Generals (4-0-1-0)
-
1
9
Gatineau Olympiques (6-2-0-2)
9
2
10
Everett Silvertips (3-0-2-0)
8
2
    
 
Honourable Mention:
  
 
Sherbrooke Phoenix (6-3-0-0)
6
1
 
Guelph Storm (4-1-0-0)
-
1
 
Kamloops Blazers (5-2-1-0)
-

The Tigers play Red Deer and Victoria this weekend.

Utica Comets Update
Utica made their first round of cuts today. Both Curtis Valk, and former Tiger Wacey Hamilton survived. Utica still has 19 forwards at camp.(4 free agents). Shinkaruk played in his first AHL Preseason game and recorded 1 assist.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Brad Forrest Re-Assigned

Brad Forrest was Re-assigned to the Calgary Mustangs of the AJHL.

Forrest was just a casualty of the extreme depth the Tigers have on the back-end. It leaves 9 WHL rearguards on the roster.

Current Defense
Vannelli(19) Lewington(20)
Becker(20) Stanton(19)
Staples(19) Hobbs(17)
Quenneville(16)
Schultz(17)
Allan(18)


This move pairs the Tigers roster down to 24 players. (25 including Rathjen) which is under the league limit of 25.  I guess the Tigers don't have to make a move, but surely 9 Dman is still 1-2 too many.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tigers Deal Koules To Portland

Today the Tigers sent Miles Koules to the Portland Winterhawks in exchange for a 4th round pick in 2017.

http://medicinehatnews.com/sports/local-sports/2014/09/29/koules-traded-to-portland/

Well this move was a bit unexpected, and I'm thinking something else has gotta be in the mix. This move leaves them with 13 forwards, which is generally 1 short of the average of 2 extra forwards..

With the depth the Tigers had on defense it initially seemed very likely that they would only keep one overage defenceman. Right now the Tigers have 5 defenceman who are 19 years+, plus an overage goaltender....I think for the whl that is as deep as one could go...and good luck scoring on this squad....its going to be pretty damn difficult with the talent and depth they have.

Defense
Vannelli(19) Lewington(20)
Becker(20) Stanton(19)
Staples(19) Hobbs(17)
Quenneville(16)
Schultz(17)
Allan(18)
Brad Forrest(17)

It leaves 10 defence on the roster.(which on average is 3 too many) Right now the Tigers are 2 player over the 25 man limit(including rathjen). Something is going to happen with the defenceman...whether it's just a couple cuts or a trade that sees an impact forward, they have too many players back there right now.

One begs the question of if the Tigers are going to go for it this year?  Are the Tigers going to pull the trigger on a forward for defense-man type deal?   It makes sense to keep the experience if your gunning for a title. This move has me very curious on what they plan to do next.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oil Kings squeak by Tigers 2-1

Game Hero
Tristan Jarry stood on his head, and the Tigers went 0 for 8 on the powerplay.  If the Tigers had buried their chances this could have been a blowout game in favor of the Tigers, as they carried the play for a good portion of this game.  The only reason it wasn't a blowout was because Tristan Jarry inherited some sort of Superhuman goalie powers and played the game of his life.

The Tigers powerplay looked a bit confused at times on what to do. They had a lot of zone time but better quality chances being shorthanded than with the man-advantage. The Tigers will get Tommy Vannelli back for Tuesday's game so hopefully he can provide a spark on the PP unit.

I was really impressed by How Edmonton tried to come at the Tigers with speed, and the Tigers matched it then turned it up a notch. Then Edmonton tried to up their physical play, which saw the Tigers up their speed again.


Defensive Situation
Both Schultz and Quenneville received a ton of ice-time. Brad Forrest was also dressed but only saw a handful of shifts. Schultz and Quenneville are here to stay.

Let's Look at next years Lineup to see if it makes their decision any easier.

Next Year's Defense
Gone: Vannelli, Lewington, 1 of (stanton/staples)

Ty Stanton(20) Connor Hobbs(18)
David Quenneville(17) Ty Schultz(18)
Brad Forrest(18) Scott Allan(19)
Skapski(18)
+Prospects

50% turnover creates a lot of extra room back there. The young guys need to play  minutes to groom them for next season.  Also does it make sense to play the Stanton/Staples combo a lot this season, when one of them likely won't be here as overagers?  
 (CoxSanford, Ast, Labelle, Staples,Stanton). 

What I would Consider ( 2 Good Options)

Scenario One
I would be trading/releasing Becker here, and sending down Brad Forrest
Pro's = Keep Staples experience and solidifies a very great Defensive core
Con's = Less ice time to the younger guys with a younger lineup next season.

Scenario Two ( I like this one the most)
Trade/release Becker, and Trade Matt Staples
Pro's: Balanced Lineup with young and experience, plus possible asset return with staples. Young guys get lots of icetime.
Cons: Loose a little bit of experience on the back-end.

Vannelli(19) Lewington(20)
Stanton(19) Hobbs (17)
Quenneville(16) Schultz(17)

Allan(18)
Forrest(17) 


Becker unfortunately is the odd man out. Lewington, and Langhamer are locks. They need some scoring up front with Koules. This isn't a hard decision IMO. Koules was a slow starter last year pointwise. He hit a post tonight, so hopefully gets it going soon.

In regards to Staples I like Quenneville and Schultz on the 3rd pairing D unit. I think Hobbs is good enough/ready to play a 2nd line D Pairing with Stanton. This gives a great mix of youth and veterans experience, dressing a strong lineup now, youth for the future, and some depth and size with Allan. Forrest could potentially be sent down, or a callup later in the season if there is a trade.

Why not cut/trade Allan?
I think Allan has great mobility and potential. I want his size in next years lineup. With him in the lineup over staples you have him an extra year, as well as cut down on next years overage situation.
I might consider a trade if the return coming back included a goal scoring power forward.





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tommy Vannelli Sent back to the Hat

http://blues.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=731485

That's actually slightly surprising that he was sent back so early. I thought he had a good shot at coming back, but was surprised he was assigned right back to the Tigers instead of the AHL.

He Joins Ty Stanton who was sent back yesterday.

Left At Camp
Marek Langhamer (20)
Miles Koules (20)
Tyler Lewington (20)

The Tigers overagers all remain away.

Current Defense(9+)
Kyle Becker(20) Tommy Vannelli (19)
Ty Stanton(19)  Matt Staples(19)
Connor Hobbs(17) Scott Allan(18)
David Quenneville(16) Ty Schultz(17)
Brad Forrest(17)


*Tyler Lewington

Defense Thoughts
I really don't know what the Tigers will do here, and I find this scenario hard to explain. Evaluating their roster, Its difficult to make decisions when 3 overagers are still away at camp. There could still be a surprise that happens.

They will need to cut/trade at least 2 players to get down to the 25 player limit in 3 weeks.
( 1 of them very highly likely to be a 20 yr old  when Lewington returns)

the other?
They basically have 4 guys (Allan, Schultz,Quenneville,Forrest) competing for 1 spot, and that opens up a ton of questions...

 If they keep a young  16 in Quenneville as well as 8 Defenceman does he see 40 games as required?
Maybe they send him down and keep 2 17's.

Do they throw Allan up at forward bringing a physical presence up front? They would still need to cut down 2 players on the back-end.

Does a guy like Staples/Allan get traded with the young prospects stepping up, bringing in a power forward? I see this team as a dark-horse contender depending on what their forwards can bring, and if that is the case I'd prefer Staples experience back on D, as it would make their defense one of, if not the best in the league

Do they cut one or two of the 17's in Schultz/Forrest?  Both of them good players.

What can they get in trades for Staples, Allan, Schultz/Forrest?

All the scenarios make my head spin. All these young guys are good, and next year their will be room with a bit of turnover.  I do think if they have a shot at upgrading a good player with size up front they should seriously consider it even if they are losing playing years from a young Defenseman (which is rare). What would you do?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tigers Win Home Opener 5-1

Rookies
While Lethbridge may not be the best test of your new players, I think playing them for the first two games is a nice transition from exhibition to regular season.

I was highly impressed by the talent level of all of the first year players. Not a single first year player looked out of place.

 I think every player on the team is a whl calibre player, and its going to be extremely tough to make decisions to send a couple of them down.

David Quenneville - Very mobile, and a great first pass. He belongs up here as a 16 yr old.
Mason Shaw - A Very smart sparkplug in your face type player with some talented hands.
Brad Forrest - Calm and poised, his skating style reminds me of Russell. He has a ton of potential
Matthew Bradley - Can just tell this guy is going to be a future star. He was the best Tiger on the ice.
Ty Schultz - I remember watching him a bunch on the ice, but its hard to put thoughts into words here. He played a solid game, not as flashy, but didn't make many mistakes.

Nick Schneider - Perhaps a bit of nerves on the first goal, but he was very positionally sound overall on the first shot. He didn't let a bad goal in, and gave the Tigers the chance to win.

I really can't believe the depth the Tigers have on the back-end. When all the defenseman return they are going to be cutting very good young players who are more than whl capable. This Defence is going to be great for at least the next 3 years.


Big Hit
Chad Butcher had a nice little toe drag past Tyler Wong, Wong however clipped him up high in the chin and Butcher went down and looked a little woozy. It was the 5'8 165 lb sparkplug Mason Shaw who immediately went to his aid and was smart in not taking a penalty but going up to Wong and getting in his face for the hit.

Wong received a 5 minute major and game misconduct, and is likely to get a 1 game suspension. The Tigers didn't score on the man-advantage.

Pre-Season Predictions
I had a big post written up, and then I went and read http://whl-from-above.blogspot.ca/2014/09/2014-15-central-division-preview.html
He pretty much took the words about my predictions from the Tigers out of my mouth, and his thoughts about the Other teams seem spot on.

Give his blog a read if you haven't, his thoughts about how the various teams will do is an excellent read.

NHL Camps
Marek Langhamer - Arizona
Miles Koules - Washington
Tyler Lewington - Washington
Tommy Vannelli - St. Louis
Ty Stanton - Detroit

Most main camps opened up this weekend. A lot of teams have exhibition games coming up soon. I think a lot of teams will make first cuts after this weekend.

Tigers Win Season Opener 3-2

Fight
Scott Allan Vs Tyler Bell
- Very quick fight. Actually calling that a fight would be generous as it was a lightning quick come together grapple and fall to the ice.


The Canes Russian Import Pavel Skumatov scored the Hurricanes First 2 goals of the season.

A quick shot from the slot to beat Nick Schneider made it 1-0 Hurricanes

Under 10 minutes later Skumatov would score his 2nd off the game, coming off the boards and hook slinging the puck as he was falling. Schneider opened up his pads for a split second and the puck beat him five-hole.   2-0 Hurricanes

The Tigers would get on the board as Kyle Becker would get his first of the year. Cole Sanford entered the zone and looped back and found a trailing Becker. Becker potted the shot low far side which beat Canes Netminder Zac Robidoux. 2-1 Hurricanes

Fight
Griffen Foulk Vs Mason Shaw

Shaw appeared to throw a good hit finishing his check and the camera cut away. It came back to a 6'1 200 b defenceman trying to throw punches at mason shaw a 16 yr old standing 5'8 165lbs.
Shaw held his own and this was largely a grappling match, before both players fell to the ice. Foulk received an instigator, 10 minute misconduct and fighting major, which largely put him out for the rest of the game.  A 19 yr old vet taking on a 5'8 rookie on paper is a huge mismatch, and I'll just say its the type of fight Doty would have taken issue with.

The Tigers Markus Eisenscmid would score his first of the year. Off a rush Markus from his backhand on his offwing shovelled a shot towards the net and it somehow beat Robidoux. A shot he should have easily stopped.. 2-2 TIE

Late in the game Hurricanes Bryton Sayers would win a puck battle and lift it over the boards in his own end resulting in a powerplay for the Tigers.

Directly off the facebook the puck was won back to Connor Hobbs who let a shot rip past a screen Robidoux 3-2 Tigers  and that is how the game would end.

I didn't watch much of the game but it seemed a bit sloppy. The Tigers had 7 guys out, and the canes had 4 guys out. Home Opener Saturday Night!!