Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nine Games To Go

A solid win by the Tigers defeating the Prince Albert Raiders 7-3.

The Tigers showed a good bounce-back game tonight after blowing a 4 goal lead last night. I thought the Raiders came out strong in the first period but faded slowly as the game wore on. I think a big reason for that was because the Tigers forwards were punishing the Raider defenceman physically by just finishing checks.

I find when the Tigers forwards don't finish their checks the whole team plays poor in general, because their not moving their feet. finish your checks, finish your checks, finish your checks, finish your checks, finish your checks.

Scoreboard Watching
Kamloops defeated Kootenay in regulation so the Tigers leapfrog 1 point ahead of Kootenay. The Tigers play the Red Deer Rebels in Red Deer on Tuesday. An outright loss would leave them 8 points back with 8 games remaining. An outright win would leave them 4 points back with a game in hand. The Tigers should be very hungry for that game.

Recent Stretch
I think this stretch of games is going to be very beneficial once playoffs come around, if more injuries don't occur. The Tigers depth defenders are seeing lots of minutes against the opponents top lines. Every player is experiencing a tired grind. As long as they can get some rest and be healthy for playoffs, this stretch will be helpful.

The Tigers welcomed back Patrik Parkkonen from injury tonight, and it sounds like Matt Konan is close to returning.

Guys like Owuya, McKay, Businius have been playing 20-25 minutes instead of 10-15 minutes they are used to. I think that has lead to some tired hands and feet for Sebastien Owuya as he was beat to the outside a few times and that seemed to shatter his confidence.

A lot of these games have been of the grinding it out variety, and if you look back since January very few of their losses were more than 1 or 2 goals and have been close games.

I have really liked the play of the Tigers 4th line of Reid Petryk, Curtis Valk, and Boston Leier. They have been chipping in with offense and playing in the opponents end of the ice. I thought Kellan Tochkin has also played well the last 2 games.

The Tigers need the Hamilton, Pitlick, Shinkaruk line to be as good as they were tonight, every night. I thought that prior to this weekend games that line has struggled. When that line struggles, Vey and Etem are keyed on. When that line is on fire, the opposing coach's line matches go out the window.

Playoff Outlook
It' tough to judge how well this team will do in the playoffs. It always seems like their is a point in every game where the Tigers find a way to keep the game close whether the Tigers are up a few goals or the opposition is. The one thing I do like about the Tigers is their adaptability. They can get absolutely hammered for one period, then dominate the next.

The weird thing about this year is that the gap between the elite teams and the above average teams in incredibly small. Small enough that the top 4 teams in each conference could win it all if they get hot and get lucky.

The Tigers have an incredible goaltender and the Tigers always play on top of their game come playoffs. They have the talent to go very far, but the main question will be if they can play consistently in the playoffs.

For the first round its likely that the Tigers will play either Brandon, Edmonton, or Moose Jaw. If they reach a second round it could be likely that they could play a Red Deer, Saskatoon, or Kootenay. I think any of those series is a coin flip. Which would mean another coin flip in the following round.

I still think anything less than reaching the third round will be considered a disappointment. I'm a little superstitious so I'm keeping my prediction quiet. These last few games are going to be very fun to watch.

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