Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Portland Seattle Game 3 Stats/Notes and Analysis

Seattle took their second lead of the series so far with a 5-2 win at home over the Portland Winterhawks Tuesday night.

The main story of the game was how amazing the Scott Eansor-Donovan Neuls-Nolan Volcan unit was at limiting chances for Portland's star players: Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nic Petan.

Here are the stats for the 5-2 Game 3 loss:

Player TOI Shots Faceoff % Hits Blocked Shots
Bittner UNK 2 N/A 5 0
Petan UNK 5 14/20=70% 4 0
Bjorkstrand UNK 4 N/A 4 0
De LeoUNK510/22=45.5%01
-Right off the jump Seattle's shut down line of Neuls-Eansor-Volvan looked to be energized. Volcan put a hit on Blake Heinrich that created a chance in front.
-Portland's Defensemen really struggled as a whole with a ferocious fore-check that Seattle threw at them all night. Adam Henry, Josh Hanson and Anton Cederholm were the most vitimized by the fore-check. Probably the worst was Henry gifting Scott Eansor a breakaway that he could not finish.
-Eansor did score Seattle's first goal, though when he found a gap in Portland defensive coverage and went in on Hill alone, beating him.
-That line was also in on creating Seattle's 4th goal; an insurance marker in the 3rd period. This was doen when Nolan Volcan pressured Cederholm into a turnover, leading to a Jerret Smith point shot finding twine. Portland was at it's best defensively in game 2 when their forwards came back on the back-check taking away shooting lanes. When the D-men turn the puck over on a consistent basis, the forwards do not have an opportunity to make these plays. This area of the game must be better for Portland or they will fall in a big hole.
-I don't want to take away from the Seatte shutdown line but a lot of Portland's top lines problems are due to the physical play from the defensive pairings of Evan Wardley-Jared Hauf and Shea Theodore-Jeret Smith. Wardley is at his best when the referees let him get away with a few extra cross checks and shoves on Portland's stars, as well as, a little physical play away from the puck.
-Even when Wardley was whistled for a rouhging call, he was able to get the referees to call Petan for embellishment as well, matching up the penalities. This was after Wardley; with his free hand, shoved Petan's face into the plexi-glas twice. In all honesty though, Petan did appear to go down a little soft. I do have to point out though that usually these are called on players with a reputation for embellishment and Petan is not known for this.
-If the referees continue to let this play continue in the really physical direction, Portland''s goal scorers are going to have to be better at getting themselves extra room to get more scoring chances.
-Paul Bittner was just about completely un-noticeable out there in Game 3. He even was demoted in the 3rd period with Evan Weinger gettign time with Petan's line. Not susrprisingly, Weinger responded with this chance by creating a screen in front of Taran Kozun, allowing Petan to score from the top of the faceoff circle.
-Bittner needs to be better at using his size and creating space for his smaller linemates. A guy he can try to emulate is future NHL Hall of Famer: Jaromir Jagr, who has made his career at creating space and finding his skilled team-mates for scoring chances.
-Another Winterhawk who has struggled with the physical play is Miles Koules, who has yet to find the net in the series. Two shots on net is really low for the over-age sniper.
-A lot (17/40) of Portland's shots came from the blue liners, which is somethign that I thought would lead to more scoring chances. However, a lot of these shots were part of zone entry and mostly only Adam Henry (7 shots) really got his by jumping into the play. Henry had Kozun make two amazing saves on him when he had point blak chances down low.
-Portland's best forward on the night was Chase De Leo; as has been the case in a lot of the games that the team as a whole has struggled. De Leo does not seem to get as easily frustrated and stays with his game. A minus 3 does not tell the whole story about De Leo's game for me. It's only a matter of time before he gets rid of the zero in the playoff points column.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand has had a lot of scoring chances but has shot high and wide a lot so far, by trying to pick the corners. If this continues, Portland is really going to struggle as they rely on Oliver a lot to score the big goals.
-Portland's Goalie Adin Hill took a stick to the throat from Donovan Neuls and after the mid-period break, he returned with an extra pad to protect this area.
-I would expect Portland's defense to be a whole lot better in Game 4 on Thursday. They have shut out Seattle twice this year, so they are capable of keeping them off the score sheet.

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