Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Portland @ Everett Preview 3/11/15

Portland (39-20-2-3. 83 pts, 2nd in U.S. Division) @Everett (40-19-3-4, 87 pts, 1st in U.S.)
-As I've outlined before, they don't get much more important in the regular season, then tonight's 7:05 match up at Xfinity Arena in Everett. The Silvertips sit in first place in the Division and are in position to play the first Wild Card team (currently Spokane). But just 4 points back and with 2 more games to play, the red hot Portland Winterhawks look to get 2 points closer tonight and put themselves in position to have home ice advantage for the first 2 rounds, regardless of whom they play.
Playoff Positioning:
They last won a U.S. Division title back in 2007, when they had a 16 year old Kyle Beach and Peter Mueller and Zach Hamill on the roster. Mueller has played for 3 different NHL teams since that span and is now playing in the Swiss Pro League. Regardless of what Portland does, if Everett just takes care of what is in front of them, they will hold onto the Division lead that they've held practically the whole season.
They have the best record in the WHL Since Jan. 1 (20-3-2) and have pulled themselves out of a battle for 2nd with Seattle and into a Division title race with Everett. This game means a lot to Portland as if they win and get within 1 win of Everett for first, they are that much closer to avoiding a physical and most likely long first round series with Seattle. The win would also give them 40 for the 19th time in team history and also for the 6th straight season (tying a franchise record).
D-man Tristen Pfeifer is doubtful for tonight's game, so 16 year old D-man Alex Astasiewicz was called up and will play tonight, though most likely not too much.
F Alex Schoenborn still listed as week-to-week with an upper body injury. At this point, I just hope he's back in time for the playoffs. D Nick Heid is out for the season after having shoulder surgery.


Top Scorers in Season Series:
1. Carson Stadnyk- 6 goals, 8 assists-14 pts
2. Ivan Nikolishin- 2 G, 8 A-10 pts
3. Kohl Bauml- 5 G, 3 A-8 pts
4. Noah Juulsen- 2G, 5 A-7 pts

1. Oliver Bjorkstrand- 7G, 9A-16 pts
2. Chase De Leo- 7G, 6A, 13 pts
3. Nic Petan- 4G, 7A-11 pts
4. Paul Bittner- 4G, 5A-9 pts
4. Layne Viveiros-9A- 9 pts

Players to Watch:
-#95-F-Nikita Scherbak
Somehow he only has 4 points vs. the Hawks this season, which is stunning considering he's a first round pick that has immense offensive talent and is the type of large forward, Portland's D-men struggle with. His lack of success vs. Portland may be a result of the fact that he likes to create a lot of offense by relying on his stick skills and off of quick wrist shots. Portland's D-men (especially Viveiros and Anton Cederholm) excel at stick skills and not allowing quick wrist shots.

-#89-C-Ivan Nikolishin
Ivan is more the type of forward Portland struggles with. He's very quick and reminds me a lot of Petan with his creative ability to get the puck into the slot or other prime shooting areas. He also is able to possess the puck for long periods of times, causing Portland's D-men to get out of position.

-#70-G-Carter Hart
The 16 year old Goalie was just named the Vaughn CHL Goalie of the week after making 83 saves over 3 games (all Everett wins). He's been hit and miss vs. Portland this year, getting pulled in two different games, while also making 29/32 and 30/33 saves in two different wins. With how he's played recently, I would expect Coach Kevin Constantine to go with Hart instead of Austin Lotz.

-#9-C- Chase De Leo
He's played in every game and has factored in the scoring in every single game. Chase causes trouble with a lot of teams and Everett is not excluded, because he's one of the best forwards, not playing on his team's top line. This means that Everett cannot put their top shut down pairing of Kevin Davis and Cole MacDonald against him.

-#19- Nic Petan
Struggled in his first few games vs. the Tips but has torn it up since then. He's tortured the Tips for 3 years now as they sometimes seem to get caught "puck watching" against him and are not looking where his next pass is going. I'd like to see him shoot more to keep team's honest and not selling out vs. the pass.

-#31-G- Adin Hill
Has only lost one game vs the Tips this year and he made 45/49 saves in that one. Overall vs. Everett he's stopped 98/108 for a 90.7 Save %, which is actually below his season average of 92.6%. Inexperience should be a concern considering he's never been in this position before, but somehow I do not think this guy is phased. He just exudes confidence out there, even after giving up the off weak goal. His play down the stretch will probably decide whether they win the U.S. or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment