Friday, March 25, 2016

Portland vs. Everett Round One Play Off Preview: Part Four: Special Teams and Final Prediction

Bukarts had four power play goals vs. Everett this season
In part of a running series that started on Tuesday, I have been taking a deep look at each of the positions on the Portland Winterhawks and Everett Silvertips, prior to the start of their series, tonight at 7:35 pm in Everett. On Tuesday, I looked at goalies, Wednesday, I previewed defensemen and last night, I took a long look at all of the forwards. Today, I will take a look at special teams give you my final prediction.

Special Teams:
-The Silvertips had the second worst power play in the entire WHL this year. They scored 46 goals on 271  chances (17.0%), while allowing six shorthanded goals. The only team that had a worse power play then Everett, were the last-placed Kootenay Ice. Despite 37 power play chances in their 10 games vs. Portland, Everett only scored four goals for an awful 10.8% rate. Those four goals were spread across four different forwards: Devon Skoleski, Patrick Bajkov, Dawson Leedahl and Connor Dewar. The Winterhawks penalty kill has been vulnerable to screened shots from the blue line or one-timers (Ethan Bear anyone?), but Everett has not had much success with this. The Silvertips' penalty kill was surprisingly average at 16th overall, allowing 47 goals on 206 overall kills. They were shorthanded 34 times less then the next team in the WHL, as they just do not take a lot of penalties. Their three shorthanded goals for, were second worst in the entire WHL ( of note-Moose Jaw only had one shorthanded goal all season-with Brayden Point on the roster that is shocking). Portland scored eight of those power play goals, Everett allowed.

-The Winterhawks' power play has been much like the rest of the team; inconsistent. They scored 59 goals on 291 opportunities(20 more than Everett). This was good for 19.6% and 14th overall. They have allowed eight shorthanded goals against (two more than Everett). As mentioned before, Portland's power play has torched Everett for eight power play goals on 29 chances. Rihards Bukarts scored four of those goals and Rodrigo Abols, Jack Dougherty, Caleb Jones and Alex Schoenborn had the others. Bukarts had three of his four PP goals in just one game. Meanwhile, Portland has only allowed four power play goals from Everett on 37 chances (89.2%) and have allowed 60 power play goals on 286 opportunities for 79.0% and ninth in the WHL. Without the Seattle games factored in, one has to think that Portland's PK would be top-five in the league.They also had eight shorthanded goals, which is 13th in the WHL. Portland had one shorthanded goal vs. Everett and it was scored by Alex Schoenborn. I would not look for this to be a common occurrence in the series.

Who Has the Edge:
-I have to go with Portland in this as Everett's power play has been pretty awful this year and they do not really succeed much, at what Portland is most vulnerable to. Portland, meanwhile, has been very effective against Everett on the PP and has used it to bring themselves back from deficits to Everett in several of the games.

Final Prediction:
-Portland was 5-4-1 this year vs. Everett, but in the last two losses, really put themselves in bad spots with 3-0 deficits. In both cases, the stormed back, but did not have quite enough. The key for Portland is to just not let themselves get down big. A 1-0 first period deficit is fine, but anymore then that and you are flirting with disaster. Portland has dominated a majority of the thirds periods in the season series and I would look for that to continue.
-It's certainly looking more and more like Carter Hart will miss the first couple of games at the least, which is big for Everett. They will have to rely upon rookie goalie Mario Petit to carry the weight for a team that just cannot afford anything close to sub-par from their goalie.
-If Portland is not able to steal at least one of the first two games in Everett, with Petit in goal, it will be extremely tough sledding. If they are able to take both, there is no way Everett comes back . I think they split the first two and Portland wins both in the Rose City, en route to a series win in six games. Adin Hill will provide some fantastic saves and shake off the performances he's had vs. Everett the last few times out.

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