Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday's Portland Winterhawks' News and Notes: Breaking Down the U.S. Division Race

Seattle and Everett will battle three more time to help decide who wins the U.S. Division
It does not get much closer than the U.S. Division this year. With only 13-14 games left for each team, every team still has a chance to win the Division. Currently there is only 15 points separating the first place team (Everett) and the last place team (Tri-City)
Team Games Played Points Games Left vs. B.C. Games Left vs. U.S. Games Left vs. East/Central
1. Everett 59 74 4 (2 vs. Victoria, 1 vs. Kelowna & 1 vs. Kamloops) 9 (3 vs. Seattle, 3 vs. Tri-City, 2 vs. Portland & 1 vs. Spokane) None
2. Seattle 58 67 2 (1 vs. Vancouver & 1 vs. Kamloops) 12 (4 vs. Tri-City, 4 vs. Portland, 3 vs. Everett & 1 vs. Spokane) None
3. Portland 59 65 1 vs. Vancouver 8 (4 vs. Seattle, 2 vs. Everett, 1 vs. Spokane  & 1 vs. Tri-City) 4 (@Calgary, @Edmonton, @Red Deer & @Kootenay)
4. Spokane 59 64 8 (4 vs. P.G., 2 vs. Kamloops & 2 vs. Kelowna) 5 (2 vs. Tri-City, 1 vs. Everett, 1 vs. Seattle & 1 vs. Portland) None
5. Tri-City 58 59 4 (2 vs. P.G., 1 vs. Kelowna & 1 vs. Kamloops) 10 (4 vs. Seattle, 3 vs. Everett, 2 vs. Spokane & 1 vs. Portland) None
Strength of Schedule:
  1. Tri-City- opponent's combined winning percentage: 0.587
  2. Spokane: 0.580
  3. Everett: 0.579
  4. Portland: 0.536
  5. Seattle: 0.508
-So it appears that Tri-City has a tough road to catch Spokane, who is five points ahead and Kamloops, who is four points ahead. They have three games against the top three teams in the B.C. and eight vs. the top three teams in the U.S. Evan Sarthou has found his form though and they look set to catch one of those two if either goes on a long losing streak. In my opinion, though, with the road they have to trek, they will finish on the outside of the playoff picture.
-How Spokane does against Prince George could be what decides third place in the U.S. They play all four games of their season series over the last month of the season. Spokane has lost three of their last ten games in extra-time and those missed points could be what keeps them behind Portland. They have two games vs. Kelowna, which is a very possible first round match up.
-Portland has won five of their last six and at one point, looked to have won the other game. They have four games against Seattle, who is only two points above them. In my opinion, it certainly looks like home-ice in the first round (second place in the U.S.) could be decided by the last two games of the year (Seattle and Portland home-and-home series). I, for one, am super excited if a Seattle-Portland playoff series come to fruition.
-Seattle has the easiest road of the five teams with five games against teams currently on the outside of the playoff picture. If they can find a way to get depth scoring, they could easily make a run at first in the U.S. They really need at least two of those three games against Everett to go their way though and the Tips have been their kryptonite this year. What everyone thought would be a slam dunk, third division title in the T-birds' history is going to be anything but easy though.
-Everett dropped several games in a row, but recovered with two division wins this last weekend. I find it really hard to believe that a Kevin Constantine coached team will go on the prolonged losing streak that would be needed for them to lose out on their second straight division title. If they continue to get the better of Seattle, they will likely be pulling for Seattle to drop down, so that they can play them in the first round (not likely).
Winterhawks in the NHL:
-Derrick Pouliot had an assist for Pittsburgh in a 4-3 comeback win over the N.Y. Islanders.
-The Stadium Series got going Sunday in Minnesota and the home team took the Chicago Blackhawks to the wood shed 6-1. Matt Dumba had a goal and Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist in the Wild win.
-Jannik Hansen scored twice for Vancouver in a 5-1 win over Colorado. Hansen now has a career-high 19 goals for the Canucks.
-Brendan Leipsic got recalled back up to the Toronto Maple Leafs today. Hopefully they will give him more than a two-game stint this time around.

Winterhawks in the AHL:
-Ty Rattie got the shoot out winner for the Chicago Wolves on a sweet and backhand shot. The Wolves beat Charlotte 3-2 in the circus.

ICYMI: @TyRattie8 scored in the SO yesterday as the #ChicagoWolves got back in the win column!
-Taylor Leier had an assist for Lehigh Valley as the edged Springfield 5-4. Craig Cunningham had a goal and an assist in the Falcons' loss.
Winterhawks in the ECHL:
-Tristan King had an assist but failed to convert his shootout attempt and Allen fell to Tulsa 3-2 in the circus.
-Garrett Haar scored his second goal of the year for Alaska, but it was the Aces' only goal in a 3-1 loss to Rapid City.

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