Friday, March 16, 2018

Tigers To Face Brandon Wheat Kings In Round One!

What is the Reward For The Tigers Finishing First In The Central?
Playing a team with more points than them in the standings Of Course

Crazy Season
This year was crazy. The 4th place team in the East was better than the 1st place Team in the Central. Under the old format the Tigers would have played Lethbridge, but instead, they gotta travel the 828.2 KM'm via the Trans Canada Highway for a long distance first-round matchup.

Brandon's Season
Brandon started the season on fire. At one point in the season, they were 2nd in the East and in contention for a Home Ice Playoff Position.

Trade Deadline
The trade deadline saw Brandon decide to become sellers.  Swift Current and Moose Jaw made significant moves and Brandon recouped 4-1st round picks sending away Kale Clague & Tanner Kaspick.

Tumble Down The Standings
Consequently, Brandon took a big tumble down the standings acquiring 9 points in 18 games for a .250% winning percentage.

Interestingly enough Brandon started that tumble after an OT loss to the Tigers on January 13th.

Brandon On A Roll
Guess when they ended the Tumble? An OT win against the Tigers on February 24th.

In the 11 games since Brandon has a .727 winning percentage. That includes defeating Moose Jaw twice, and Swift Current Once along the way.

Head To Head Games
Sat Dec 2nd BRN 5 @ MH 4 OT 
Fri Dec 8th - MH 3 @ BRN 4 OT
Sat Jan 13th - MH 4 @ BRN 3 OT
Sat Feb 24th BRN 4 @ MH 3 OT

Home Ice Advantage
In this series Home Ice could be critical. Brandon has a .786 record at home this season. The Tigers Record is .657. They both have poor road records.

Special Teams
Both teams have very similar Special Teams stats. Both have mediocre Powerplays, and Both have terrible Penalty Kills. Brandon has also given up a league high 17 short-handed goals.

Even their injuries are similar. Both Teams have goaltenders out day to day.
Brandon is missing OA goalie Logan Thompson out with a day to day injury. As well as 16yr rookie Jonny Hooker with an upper-body injury who is week to week.

 Tigers have Jordan Hollett out but hoping to be ready before Playoffs Start. Mason Shaw is also listed as indefinite but hopes to make an appearance in the series.

Who's The Favorite?
At this point, my Money is on Brandon. They will finish the season with more points and are rolling into the post-season on a Hot-Streak. The Tigers have continued their up and down roller coaster ride. They are a little healthier, but they haven't been playing as strong as they are capable of.

Mason Shaw could be an X-factor that changes things if he is able to squeak into the latter half of the first round, but you wonder how much missing an entire season will affect him.

Toss the dice this series could easily go 7 games.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Race for The Central Division Crown

Tigers Clinch Central

Hollett - 1 Week
Shaw - Hoping to return for last 2 Regular Season Games. Status Not confirmed
Edit: It was mentioned that he is hoping for a return in the first round of playoffs.

Possible First Round Match-Ups
Brandon - Very LIkely
Regina  - Unlikely but possible

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tigers Loose Kristians Rubins To Injury

The Latest WHL Report says that Kristians Rubins has also joined the Injured List
Rubins is listed as being out 3 to 4 weeks with an Upper Body Injury

Jordan Hollett
The Injury lists Jordan Hollett as out 4 to 6 weeks, but apparently they are still waiting for a doctor diagnoses.

Current Injury List
Mason Shaw indefinite
Jordan Hollett 4 to 6 weeks
Joel Craven  week to week
Hayden Ostir  3 to 5 weeks
Linus Nassen 2 to 3 weeks
Kristians Rubins 3 to 4 weeks

The good news is that Tyler Preziuso has returned from injury. 
The Playoffs start in 6.5 weeks. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Tigers Down A Goaltender

Bob Ridley tweeted today that Jordan Hollett is out indefinitely. This season has been a very unfortunate year with injuries. 

Current Injury List
Mason Shaw 
Jordan Hollett 
Joel Craven 
Hayden Ostir 
Linus Nassen
Tyler Preziuso

David Quenneville was back in the lineup for Saturday's game but didn't look 100%.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Playoff Watch

Edit: 6:30pm Added Quenneville to walking wounded

Western Conference Road Swing
So far their swing out West hasn't gone the Tigers way. They've picked up 1 point in 4 games. Their last game of the road trip goes Saturday Night in Vancouver.

Walking Wounded
The Tigers are running into injury issues, with a number of key players out of the lineup.

Hayden Ostir - 4 to 6 weeks Upper Body
Mason Shaw - Indefinite
Tyler Preziuso - Day to Day
Linus Nassen - 2 to 3 weeks
Joel Craven - week to week
David Quenneville - Day to Day

 As a result, the Tigers have called up a couple rookies.

Trevor Longo
Longo was called up mid-January and has dressed for 10 games. Longo was a 6th round pick in 2015

Corson Hopwo
In Victoria, they called up 16 yr old Corson Hopwo who is putting up a point per game numbers with the Delta Hockey Academy in the CSSHL.  I expect him to be one of the rookies next season if he can continue to get stronger. Hopwo was a 7th round selection in 2016

Jalen Price
I see Jalen Price has recently been put on the Tigers Roster. Price is from Delta BC, so I Imagine he might be dressed for the Vancouver game.

Price is a former 3rd round Bantam Draft Pick in 2016 and is currently  playing in the VIJHL(Vancouver Island Junoir Hockey League) That is a league of 9 teams comprising of 16-20yr olds, and Jalen Sits 25th overall in league scoring with 35 points in 39 games against mostly older players. There are, however, few players who have been drafted by the WHL in that league.

Barrett Sheen Hit on Joel Craven
 Joel Craven is out for a few weeks after being elbowed in the head by Moose Jaw Forward Barrett Sheen. It was great to see the Tigers scoring on the Powerplay and winning the game because of it for payback, but still, the hit leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

IMO Joel has a very bright future with the Tigers and plays a similar style to that of former Tiger Tommy Vannelli.

Clip of the Hit  - Courtesy ChatNews

Playoff Watch
It's My Favorite Time of year when the Stretch Run to the Playoffs begin.

Medicine Hat Tigers Schedule
After this road trip, their schedule becomes a lot lighter. 13 of their last 17 games are against the Central Division.

Lethbridge on the Prowl
Despite selling some key assets (Stuart Skinner, Lane Zablocki, Giorgio Estephan, Tanner Nagel) Lethbridge has a .682 winning percentage since the Trade Deadline. 3 of their losses were in OT.

Lethbridge can now statistically pass the Tigers in the standings if they win their games in hand, however, they have a tougher schedule with a very heavy Eastern Division schedule. 

Nonetheless, with Lethbridge playing well and the Tigers facing a lot of injuries, it is logical to think that the small gap in the standings will soon close and that the Tigers lead on the Central is in danger.

Potential First Round Opponents
Lethbridge - Unlikely
Kootenay - Possible
Regina - Possible
Saskatoon - Possible
Prince Albert - Possible
Brandon - Possible
Red Deer - Unlikely but possible

Red Deer, PA, and Lethbrdige have caught fire, while Brandon and the Tigers are falling. Since the Trade Deadline Regina is running at a .600 pace which is only a minor uptick.

Still anyones guess as to what happens.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Tigers Make A Big Move

Their was a 3 way trade involving Saskatoon, Medicine Hat, and Regina.

To Medicine Hat
’00 Bryan Lockner
1st Round Pick 2020 WHL Bantam Draft
2nd Round Pick 2021 WHL Bantam Draft

To Saskatoon
’98 Max Gerlach

Scouting Report
He is a 2 way player responsible in both ends of the ice. Good on ice awareness. Defensibly responsible. Hard work ethic. His passing skills threading pucks through tight situations seems high.
Average Skating, turning a little slow. Stands up for teammates and not afraid to get into the dirty areas. Pats were using him on the 3rd line, with PP time standing in front of the net.

Bryan Lockner(17)(.21/.31) 6'1 209lbs.

Lockner's Highlight Reel

Initial Thoughts 
The Tigers have significantly bolstered their 2000 age class. Their 2000 and 2001 age groups have the makings to be exceptionally strong when they mature in 2 seasons.

They acquired Two 17's who will be impact players, so even though they lost a good piece with Gerlach, these deals will probably make this years team stronger, and the deals are also geared for the future. They also aquired a 1st and 2nd rounder. Those returns for Gerlach are massive.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tigers Aquire 17yr Old Forward Elijah Brown

Technically he is 18 but in his 17 yr old hockey season.

The Medicine Hat Tigers announced on Tuesday that they have acquired 17-year-old forward Elijah Brown from the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick in 2018 and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2019.

Elijah Brown
Elijah was part of the Seattle Thunderbird's WHL Championship team last season. He put up 13 points in 64 games, as well as dressed for 6 playoff games.

Brown is listed at 5'9 168lbs.

Scouting report
A left-handed centreman. Scouting report says he has a lot of speed. Lots of skill and creativity.
His stats suggest that he has the tools to be a point per game player in the future.

Left Seattle Earlier in the year
Brown left Seattle earlier in the year, and Seattle put him on their suspended list. Seattle's GM Russ Farwell revealed to the media earlier in the year that Brown went home because he was unhappy with his ice time.  His last game was at the end of October, where he totalled 5 points in 14 games.

It feels like a great move to bolster their 17yr old depth. It sounds like he could step into a 3rd line centre role right now with hopes that he becomes a 2nd line centre next season.

Cameron MacPhee
The Tigers traded the playing rights to Cameron MacPhee to Prince George for a 7th round pick.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Trade Deadline Thread

Just creating a new thread so you folks don't have to scroll  to get to the Comments Sections.

Massive Deals
Their have been some absolute massive deals around the league this season. Prices are through the roof. I'll post an Eastern Conference Review after the deadline passes, but in the mean-time here is a short summary of some key deals.

Nothing so far from the Tigers, but if something happens, I'll edit this post.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Eastern Conference Expectations

To Push or Not To Push

Late November and early December is the point of the season where teams have outlined their identity and going through a set of checks and balances to determine their overall strengths and weaknesses.

Usually, by now there are signs of hot starts slowing down, and weak starts heating up. The teams that are falling may still be winning, but hanging on for dear life, while the teams that are heating up may not necessarily be winning, but are outplaying their opponents.

For the teams who haven't solidified there identity, December is an evaluation month for the upcoming trade deadliJanuaryanuary.

Past History
Past history has told us that big splashes in the trade market have had high failure rates as mentioned in a previous post ; however, occasionally these deals have indeed vaulted a team to the top

This season has already seen a few big splashes in the Eastern Conference.  Regina Landing Cale Fleury, and Swift Acquiring Gennaro and Malenstyn.

Eastern Conference
Is very top heavy. There seems to be few average or above average teams. Instead we have some powerhouses and basement dwellers.

Season Review
I'm going to do a mini-review on all Eastern Conference Teams starting with some of my pre-season rankings. Further down the page, I will do a small recap on a team by team basis and throw some thoughts out on the recaps.

Brandon Wheat Kings

Pre-Season Goal Projection: 225
Current Pace:  299

Pre-Season: I had them listed as an "Average Team", that was volatile. Last season they struggled and this year would lose a high profile player in Nolan Patrick. I listed them as volatile because they retained some really good talent in the lineup and going into this season had advantageous draft positions. There was room for them to exceed expectations, but I wasn't confident in their ability to do so.

Players Exceeding Expectations:
Stelio Mattheos, Kale Clague, Linden McCorrister, Connor Gutenberg, Evan Weinger

Most of these guys are their skilled top 6 players, but looking at projections from last year they are all exceeding them.  Example Clague only scored 5 goals last season in an injury-shortened season, but he already has 10 this year and has powered up their powerplay.

Future Thoughts
Brandon has a well-balanced roster, and they just received a big return. Overage Defenceman James Shearer has been out the whole season with an injury. Brandon plays a very high tempo, quick team game, and according to, has the easiest schedule in the league.

Brandon should also have a solid team next year because they are well balanced in terms of skill and age groups. There are 3, potentially 4 strong teams in their division, and getting out of the East will be hell in the playoffs.  They could have a .700 record and finish without Home-Ice in the first round. Two teams in their division have already added peices, and it is likely that number will jump to 3.

Due to the strength of their division, it is uncertain if they will choose to add or just stay status quo. I feel they are in a similar position to Medicine Hat. They have a solid roster, perhaps overachieved a little with an easier schedule, but they have some very talented players. I think at this point they are still in evaluation mode, and perhaps in another month, the decisions to buy/add/stay status quo will become clearer as the conference sorts themselves out.

A successful season would be getting into the 2nd round of the playoffs, but that is a goal that may be incredibly difficult.. Competitively speaking being ok with a great season and a first-round playoff exit doesn't sit well in hockey. They are winning, but also in a tough spot. It will be interesting to see what they do.

Calgary Hitman
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 252-276
Current Pace:  216

Similar to Brandon I had them listed as Average, but volatile. Their defense and goaltending were weak last season, with medium turnover. They did have all of their offensive players back this season, so there was hope that they would be much stronger. I thought they were volatile because I felt their overall improvement and few losses would improve their roster, even though their draft positioning was disadvantageous.

Future Thoughts
They had an injury to key forward Beck Malenstyn. Their 2nd line forwards hasn't seen a great deal of improvement and their offence has dried up. As a result, the Hitmen have already decided to sell, and have pumped up their roster full of 16's and 17's.

The Central division is incredibly weak and getting 2nd/3rd in the division is still a possibility. The Hitmen have bargaining power with Jake bean. He may be one of the most prized assets out there, and the Hitman could relay the fact that they still want to get into the playoffs.

I expect them to sell Bean and try to get a roster player in return.  Despite their younger roster and poor record, they could still have a shot at playoffs just because the central is soo weak.

A positive outlook for them would be to make the playoffs. They did receive 3 roster players in their recent deal. If they happen to click their is outside potential to laugh into the 2nd round while some of the Eastern Beasts look in with distaste.

A more realistic goal would be to get into the playoffs and gain some assets for the future.

Edmonton Oil Kings

Pre-Season Goal Projection: 225
Current Pace:  195

I marked them as having "a developing year" as their roster was very young. I put them into average territory because I was intrigued by some of their younger talents. The OIl Kings loaded up on the young guys with very few veterans.

Future Thoughts
They had a good start to the season, but have stumbled and as of writing this post, have lost 12 games in a row. They have a pretty good top line offensively, but defensively they have no veteran defenceman and are simply too young to handle some of these teams that can score goals.

They are doing the rebuild the old fashioned way, giving their young players all the ice-time. As a result this season and next will be underwhelming, but in 2 years they should have a much stronger team on the ice.

Being in the conversation for the playoffs would be a good season, but they would probably rather have a higher draft pick. Oil Kings fans should stay patient, this is the "down cycle" for their winning years of the past. A playoff berth would be considered an above average achievement.

Kootenay Ice
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 210
Current Pace:  205 

I had them listed as having a roster that was prime to tinker with. Pre-season they had an aging roster that was lesser skilled. I listed them as an average team, where a wildcard spot would be considered successful.

They did tinker. New goaltenders, completely re-worked their defence, and traded away their 3rd line.

They have traded for youth at all 3 positions.  They have done a great job at re-balancing their age groups and getting away from an ageing core.  They did just trade away their best defenceman, but the Central Division is soo weak, that they probably have a good shot at getting a playoff spot anyway.

When their new GM first started to make a couple moves for Overagers, I was questioning their new ownership/GM group. I realized those picks were all conditional and the players they traded for were released and basically experiments. I took a closer look and realized they were re-balancing their group rather well. I have cautious hope for Kootenay going forward and like their roster a hell of a lot better than pre-season.

Getting 3rd in the division would be a good season, but there may be a temptation to keep what they have and not sell further.  There is a door open for an easier path to round 2. They do have a couple 19yr olds who might be asked about in trade scenarios. Forward Vince Loschiavo has struggled a bit and only has 6 goals where last season he put up nearly 30.

Lethbridge Hurricanes

Pre-Season Goal Projection: 220
Current Pace:  253

I had them listed as above average and a team I wasn't sure about. I expected them to retain a rock-solid defence & goaltending with all potential core members returning but had questions offensively. They unexpectedly lost a key overage defenceman and acquired Olsen Tate from Prince George to fill the unexpected loss of Brennan Menell.

I feel they have under-achieved so far. They have had a few medium-term injuries, and have swapped Overages as their players returned to health. Lethbridge has struggled on the road and went through a tough stretch losing 8 games in a row when rookie superstar Dylan Cozens was off playing in the under 17's

They have scored a few more goals than I expected, but their defence hasn't been as strong as I expected either. With the weakness of the Central division, I see them as the front-runner for the 2nd place spot in the division. I could see them upgrading one of their overage slots, but defenceman may be at a premium this season.

Instead of looking to add, they may ponder selling. They have a bundle of 19's offensively and defensively that may be inquired about. Like Brandon, they may still be evaluating their roster, and unsure about what their ultimate direction will be this season.  I would not be surprised to see a small rebalancing and selling a 19 or two for younger assets, while still trying to make a 2nd round playoff appearance.

Medicine Hat Tigers

Pre-Season Goal Projection: 310
Current Pace:  288

I had them listed as a top tier and potential championship team if all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.  Tigers unexpectedly lost Zach Fischer who went home and Mason Shaw with a near season-ending injury.

They are leading the central division by default, but in an underdog type role compared to the Eastern Conference.  Their defence hasn't been as strong as expected, but their offence has been better than expected if you count the losses of Shaw and Fischer.

I expect Lethbridge to press them as the season wears on. Their is also volatility when it comes to the playoff outlook. First place could mean facing a strong East team in the wildcard spot. If that happens the first round matchup could potentially be a lot tougher than a 2nd round matchup.

The last few games I've noticed a strong change in their game. They have a variety of forwards who have improved a couple notches who went from depth players to potential key players.

I think right now they are in evaluation mode. Will a key acquisition launch them into the contending conversation? or will they just be a beneficiary of a weak central division.  They did just outskate and outplay the top 2 teams in the west despite only grabbing 2 of 4 points.

The Tigers have an impact player and stud rookie out of the lineup on long-term injuries.  We will wait and see how this team performs, but come closer to the trade deadline, they may be looking to join the conversation in contending should they not falter leading up to the deadline.

Moose Jaw Warriors
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 293
Current Pace:  332

I had them listed as a top team. They have a veteran roster with a lot of returning players that can score as well as a potential 1st round NHL draft pick on their back-end.

They have had some injuries early in the season. They have a very weird roster where they don't have a single forward who shoots right handed.

Moose Jaw looks to be one of the front-runners in the Eastern Conference. They may look at adding a right-handed shot up front, as well as a veteran #1 type defenceman that can join Jett Woo on the #1 pairing.

The East is so strong, but the warriors were built for this season. 1st in the East is so important because finishing 2nd means a tough first-round playoff. Anything less than a 3rd round appearance will be considered a disappointment. With swift adding, there is a guarantee that one of these teams will face an early playoff exit.

Prince Albert Raiders
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 234
Current Pace:  222

I had them listed as an average team that could be volatile. Unlike Edmonton who are going with a pure youth movement, Prince Albert has a few veterans to assist in their youth movement.
Unfortunately for PA their 9th overall pick in the CHL import draft didn't report. It would have made their younger group a lot more powerfull. Prince Albert went into the season with a "developing year" mentality with a strong goal of making the playoffs.

They have the toughest schedule in the league. With a developing roster a good season for them would be a wildcard spot. Their roster is interesting as their age groups are slightly unbalanced when it comes to defence vs offence. With defence & goaltending, they have a strong 18yr old class. Up front, they have a strong 17yr old class.  Their defence will peak next season, their offence may not be as strong. The following year their offence may peak, when their defence is not as strong. Going forward I will be keep to keep an eye on that, but I'm wondering if they try flipping one of their 17yr old Dmen, for an equivalent forward to balance things out.

I think they are a tougher team than what their record indicates. They will have a very strong defence and goaltending next season so they will only get better as the season goes on. They will be fighting with Saskatoon for the wildcard spot. While I don't expect them to sell, If someone offers them a good deal for one of their OA forwards they may look at doing so.

Red Deer Rebels
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 247
Current Pace:  219

I had listed them as a dark horse and an above average team and I feel I would have made the same decision if I had to evaluate them again. They looked to have the makings of a well-balanced roster despite being in a recovery mode from their past memorial cup runs.

They have underperformed.  They traded one of their better defencemen(freadrich) for a forward who didn't quite work out and then flipped the forward for a 3rd round pick.  They sold one of their forwards for a 6th round pick, as well as recently released an overage forward.

Sutter is tinkering with their roster trying to create some chemistry this season, but with a small preference for future assets. They have 2 19's that could generate some interest in Zablocki and Hagel, at the deadline. If they sell they will need to buy an OA next year.

A disappointing season, but at this point, making the playoffs would be considered a success. I Imagine the next few weeks will be important in deciding the direction of their team on whether they tinker to make the playoffs and potentially get into round 2, or if they decide to re-balance for the next few seasons.

Not making the playoffs would be considered a disappointment, but there is still a lot of time to turn the season around.

Regina Pats
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 288
Current Pace:  234

I had them listed as Top Tier Team, only with the expectation that they would add assets for this season. They needed some more top end talent for their memorial cup run.

They have struggled and this season is starting to look a little scary for them. They previously had one line producing offence, and have greatly welcomed Nick Henry back into the lineup which has given the pats more of a 2 line punch. Acquiring Cale Fluery was a massive boost on the back-end and the pats should be a little better with those 2 integrating back into the team.

They just received some bad news that Austin Wagner will not return. They were likely waiting for his return before deciding on how to upgrade. A Wagner return meant they could sell sloboshan and get a discount on another impact forward. Now they will need to reach into the depths of their cupboards and will likely be forced to empty the tank to acquire some more scoring punch.

I feel the pats need at least 2 more scoring forwards, they need a bit of a shakeup and more skill up front. Even though they have a guaranteed memorial cup spot, the pats probably hate the fact that Moose Jaw, Brandon, and Swift Current are very strong hockey clubs.

This has the makings for either:  A movie type ending (playing through some incredibly tough adversity). Or back to back disappointing finishes, and a "what the hell" just happened outlook.

I am rooting for them a little, just as long as that doesn't mean them ending the Tigers season, should they meet. I just have a bad feeling about how they spent their assets the last couple seasons. It's like they freely overpaid knowing they were rich, then suddenly when it came time to pay the bill they were unexpectedly shortchanged.

Saskatoon Blades
Pre-Season Goal Projection: 256
Current Pace:  238

I had listed them as average, with an ageing roster of lesser skilled players. They have re-balanced a small amount and removed a couple older players.  I felt a successful year would be getting a wildcard position.

Future Thoughts
This is the last "flush year" Next year in accordance to a proper recovery we should see them compete for a regular playoff spot, but they did mix up and match their draft picks more than any other team I've ever seen, and I'm highly uncertain and feel their path the next few seasons may be volatile.

From what I've seen they started the season very slow, but have put up a near .500 record since. Saskatoon has been very inconsistent with their play, as they have beaten Moose Jaw, Brandon, and Swift Current. The massey ratings list them as having the 2nd toughest schedule in the whl.

While they are currently on the outside looking in with the playoff picture, they are in the conversation when it comes to the last couple wildcard spots.  They may be tempted to upgrade to make the playoffs as it has been a while and their fans are unhappy.  Perhaps a team like Regina comes calling for one of their OA's and sends Sloboshan back to the Blades.

I think the Blades made all those moves with the intention of making some playoff noise a year earlier. If someone comes calling about their OA's they should be in that conversation and look to upgrade for the future because there isn't a lot of hope for this season.

I look forward to watching their roster play out to see what all those trades ended up doing.  A successfull year would be making the playoffs or recouping some big assets. Not recouping assets and missing the playoffs doesn't do anything for them.

Swift Current Broncos

Pre-Season Goal Projection: 260
Current Pace:  302

I had them listed as Above Average and a potential Dark Horse. At that point, they had an Incredible top line and great defensive depth. (since added an OA goalie)

I was questioning their overall depth at forward which is why I didn't list them as a potential contender....

Future Thoughts
We knew their top line was good, but their top line has some of the most amazing chemistry I've ever seen. Tyler Steenbergen has scored 31% of the Bronco's goals. Gawdin has a lot of offensive skill, and Heponiemi is a great visionary/playmaker that complements both players. Together those 3 have 68% of the Broncos goal totals.

Their experience on the back-end has them sitting with the 2nd best Goals Against Average in the League. Their issue was that they had virtually no secondary scoring; however, they recently made a blockbuster deal and acquired 2 impact forwards who have played together in Calgary.

Going forward, yeesh. Nobody has been able to stop their top line, and they just added the makings of a 2nd 1st line. They just need a better PK unit and this team looks really good. With the quality of talent they hav acquired, anything less than a 3rd round appearance would be considered a disappointment.  They may still look at add another defenceman to play in their top 4.

Swift Current - I'd list swift as a half surprise. We knew they'd be above average, but their top line has fueled an attempt to "go for it" and are now contenders and potential favourites. There is talk they are looking to upgrade a defenceman to solidify their top 4 joining Khaira, Sissons, and Minulin.

Brandon - Imagine where they would be if Nolan Patrick was in their lineup? I feel that I was a bit dumb in "under-estimating them". They had favourable draft positions, but I under-estimated some of the skill in their lineup because of their disappointing season last year and felt the loss of Nolan Patrick would further put them into average territory.

Red Deer - I apparently vastly over-estimated them, but If I had to do everything over again, I would probably still list them as above average. I feel they have underperformed, and that has prompted them to make some moves. They lost some key scoring from the previous year, but they looked to have a roster with potential for a good deal of improvement from their forwards. Although I didn't have a good read on their defensive capabilities, I went with their fans opinions of having a strong defensive group highlighted with A-list prospect Alexander Alexeyev, which hasn't been as strong as expected.

Lethbridge - I'm not completely ready to list them here yet. I felt their defence and goaltending would be their strong suit and power them to a 2nd place finish in the central. They did have an unexpected loss from Brennan Mennell.  There is lots of time for them to rebound. Since the Central is so weak, Lethbridge may not have decided on which route to take. They have some players whom other teams may inquire about.  If their is such a thing as an easy entrance into the 2nd round of the WHL Playoffs, Lethbridge is a candidate for that spot.

Most Improved 
Swift Current
Kootenay Ice

Most Disappointed
Red Deer

Monday, November 13, 2017

Is the WHL becoming More Offensive?

Is The WHL Game Changing?
Bob Ridley has stated in the past, he feels the game tends to change every 5 years or so.
This season and last, I feel that offence has been rising and I'm curious to see if the numbers back it up.

Key Rules Changes
2014-2015 - The last WHL Import Goaltender played in the 2014-2015 season(Marek Langhamer)
2015-2016 - 3v3 overtime introduced before the shootout (previously 4x4)
2016-2017 - Kicking the Puck in the Net is allowed(as long as the player is not in the crease)

Before the 3v3 OT rule was in place, the whl was seeing close to a 50-50 split in terms of games being won in OT or a shootout.  Last season 92 were solved in OT, and only 38 went to a shootout.

Total Goals Scored (Shootout goals not counted)

Goals Scored
Powerplay Goals
5529 (Projection)

Note: There was a goal boom in 2016-2017, and it looks to be increasing for this season at a very similar rate to powerplay goals.

Goaltender Save Percentage.

Total Shots
Total Saves
Total Save Percentage

Note1: A statistically significant substantial decrease of .13 points in 2016-2017
Notes2: Although Shots are at a high point they aren't above the high of the last 6 seasons.

Powerplay Goals

Total PP’s
Total Goals
Total SHG
17-18 (Projection)

Note:   Total Powerplay chances and conversions seem to be an all time high, but the goal boom of 2016-2017 doesn't seem to show a big increase.
Note2:  This season total PP's and conversion are at a high, but we will see if that continues to the end of the season.

We don't have enough data to make a 100% conclusion; However, goal scoring appears to be on the rise in the WHL and goaltending has taken a hit.

Previously .900 was a basic figure a team would classify as "competitively average". With the recent offensive outburst, .900 save percentage is now above average.

What is the main cause? Probably a combination of more goals being scored in OT, a few extra goals being allowed via kicking them in outside the crease, as well as a slight decrease in goaltending talent with the removal of Import Goaltenders.

I would also argue that more teams are adapting to an offensive style of hockey as wanted by their fans. An Example of a defensive casualty would be Kevin Constantine with the Everett Silvertips. The Tips made the 2nd round with impressive records in each of the last 3 seasons, but was let go (likely because of his defensive style of hockey)

We will have to keep an eye on things, but it appears that the hockey world (at least in the WHL) might be starting to enter a golden age in goal scoring.