Monday, April 6, 2015

Portland Winterhawks 5 Seattle Thunderbirds 3: Game 5 Stats and Analysis

Led by 2 goals from Paul Bittner (his first goals of the series) and 3 points from Oliver Bjorkstrand, Portland jumped on Seattle early again; claiming a 2-0 lead before eventually holding off the T-birds 5-3 and taking a 3-2 lead in their best of 7 first round series.

Here are the stats I took for Saturday's 5-3 win:

Player TOI Shots Faceoff % Hits Blocked Shots
Bittner UNK 5 N/A 5 3
Petan UNK 2 16/24=66.7% 2 0
Bjorkstrand UNK 10 N/A 8 0
De LeoUNK18/23=34.8%30
-Dominic Turgeon continues his solid play on both ends of the ice in this series. Though he was held scoreless in Game 5, he made 2 brilliant back-checking plays on Seattle forwards, taking away scoring opportunities. Like I've said before, Turgeon is a good 2 way player that is built for the playoffs.
-Due to the game being a back and forth rapid pace affair, taking away these chances was very important.
-Another player who has excelled in the playoffs, is Blake Heinrich. He's always been solid as an outlet passer (a valuable asset in Portland's system), but he has been much better at it in the playoffs. -Heinrich is a +6 in the 5 games with 2 points and though he is normally paired with Keoni Texeira, he formed a fantastic shutdown pair with Anton Cederholm late in the game. The 2 of them appear to have played the entire last 2 minutes of the game. If the Hawks have a late lead, I would look for this to be what Portland chooses to do late in games.
-Also, late in tight games, Nic Petan is Coach Jamie Kompon's go to faceoff guy. He took Portland's last 4 faceoffs, winning 2 of them.
-Oliver Bjorkstrand is really starting to look like himself again in this series. He now has 8 points in the last 2 games and he scored another empty net goal. 10 shots on goal for the Dane, not including one of the 5 posts that the Hawks hit in the game.
-Somehow Bjorkstrand has yet to beat Seattle's starting Goalie: Taran Kozun in the series. Kozun made one particularly impressive save on Bjokrstrand off his shoulder, that ended up on the top of the net. It's only a matter of time before Oliver gets on past him.
-Bjorkstrand and Nic Petan both look to have more room in the opponent's zone then they had through the first 3 games. A lot of this room, I would attribute to Paul Bittner. He's starting to use his size more in corner battles and in front of the net screening Kozun. Both of Bittner's 2 goals came in tight on the net, where his frame is very useful.
-Miles Koules is also playing a lot better. He tied for 2nd on the team in shots on goal which is about where he is normally. He also hit a post and had the puck bounce off of Kozun and nearly cross the line. Somehow Kozun came away with the save, keeping Koules without a goal in the series.
-Adam Henry appears to have taken Layne Viveiros' place as the QB on the first unit power play. This is a very smart move by Kompon as Henry has performed this task and is skilled at it. He was one of the league leaders in power play assists, before he was traded to Portland from Saskatoon.
-Henry scored on the power play but had the goal dis-allowed when the referees ruled that Bittner made incidental contact with Taran Kozun, taking away his "opportunity to make a save." The puck appeared to enter the net at nearly the same time as Kozun and Bittner made contact. To be completely honest, I was okay with the goal being dis-allowed, as long as this stays consistent in the series. Yes, Bittner did not mean to collide with Kozun and yes, Kozun was out of the net, but the WHL is making a strong effort to protect their goalies and this decision holds true with that effort.
-Overall, it's certainly starting to look like Portland took Seattle's best punch and it pushed them to play a more rugged, shot blocking, contact making, playoff brand of hockey.
-As long as Portland's top line continues to have room and is being complimented with secondary scoring, Seattle does not have the guns to keep up.

Editor's note: I should have some time on ice stats for Game 6, if time allows.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this together. Great insight.