Saturday, February 26, 2011

Nine Games To Go

A solid win by the Tigers defeating the Prince Albert Raiders 7-3.

The Tigers showed a good bounce-back game tonight after blowing a 4 goal lead last night. I thought the Raiders came out strong in the first period but faded slowly as the game wore on. I think a big reason for that was because the Tigers forwards were punishing the Raider defenceman physically by just finishing checks.

I find when the Tigers forwards don't finish their checks the whole team plays poor in general, because their not moving their feet. finish your checks, finish your checks, finish your checks, finish your checks, finish your checks.

Scoreboard Watching
Kamloops defeated Kootenay in regulation so the Tigers leapfrog 1 point ahead of Kootenay. The Tigers play the Red Deer Rebels in Red Deer on Tuesday. An outright loss would leave them 8 points back with 8 games remaining. An outright win would leave them 4 points back with a game in hand. The Tigers should be very hungry for that game.

Recent Stretch
I think this stretch of games is going to be very beneficial once playoffs come around, if more injuries don't occur. The Tigers depth defenders are seeing lots of minutes against the opponents top lines. Every player is experiencing a tired grind. As long as they can get some rest and be healthy for playoffs, this stretch will be helpful.

The Tigers welcomed back Patrik Parkkonen from injury tonight, and it sounds like Matt Konan is close to returning.

Guys like Owuya, McKay, Businius have been playing 20-25 minutes instead of 10-15 minutes they are used to. I think that has lead to some tired hands and feet for Sebastien Owuya as he was beat to the outside a few times and that seemed to shatter his confidence.

A lot of these games have been of the grinding it out variety, and if you look back since January very few of their losses were more than 1 or 2 goals and have been close games.

I have really liked the play of the Tigers 4th line of Reid Petryk, Curtis Valk, and Boston Leier. They have been chipping in with offense and playing in the opponents end of the ice. I thought Kellan Tochkin has also played well the last 2 games.

The Tigers need the Hamilton, Pitlick, Shinkaruk line to be as good as they were tonight, every night. I thought that prior to this weekend games that line has struggled. When that line struggles, Vey and Etem are keyed on. When that line is on fire, the opposing coach's line matches go out the window.

Playoff Outlook
It' tough to judge how well this team will do in the playoffs. It always seems like their is a point in every game where the Tigers find a way to keep the game close whether the Tigers are up a few goals or the opposition is. The one thing I do like about the Tigers is their adaptability. They can get absolutely hammered for one period, then dominate the next.

The weird thing about this year is that the gap between the elite teams and the above average teams in incredibly small. Small enough that the top 4 teams in each conference could win it all if they get hot and get lucky.

The Tigers have an incredible goaltender and the Tigers always play on top of their game come playoffs. They have the talent to go very far, but the main question will be if they can play consistently in the playoffs.

For the first round its likely that the Tigers will play either Brandon, Edmonton, or Moose Jaw. If they reach a second round it could be likely that they could play a Red Deer, Saskatoon, or Kootenay. I think any of those series is a coin flip. Which would mean another coin flip in the following round.

I still think anything less than reaching the third round will be considered a disappointment. I'm a little superstitious so I'm keeping my prediction quiet. These last few games are going to be very fun to watch.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Credit To Kamloops

Blazers Defeat Tigers 6-5 SO

The Blazers were down 5-1 with ten minutes left to go in the game. The Tigers got into some penalty trouble and Kamloops scored 4 powerplay goals (2 in the last minute) and eventually overtook the Tigers 6-5 in a Shootout. That is extremely hard to do against any team in the league. That could be a turning point in Kamloops season in their fight for the playoffs. Kamloops D-zone coverage can be taken advantage of but their forwards can be quite explosive.

That being said the Tigers are showing signs of running out of gas mentally and physically. For the injuries they have I thought they played fairly well in the first two periods.

After tomorrow's games I'll try to fit in a little recap of recent events and games to come.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tiger Fight of the Year

Cole Grbavac is one tough S.O.B. He took on Jessey Astles of the Rockets in a doozy of a fight. Afterwards Astles headed right for the dressing room, Grbavac needed repairs on his knuckles but didn't miss a shift after serving his 5 minutes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tigers take a pair of wins at home

4-0 Shutout vs Regina and a 5-2 Win over the Saskatoon blades

I thought there were a couple things going for the Tigers that they didn't have going in the games prior. They did a better job at smacking loose pucks away in front of Tyler Bunz, and they did a much better job at creating havoc in the neutral zone, which was giving Saskatoon specifically a hard time gaining entry into the Tiger zone, and it resulted in a good bunch of offensive opportunities.

Owuya, Theraiu, Businius, Carr, Mckay all played pretty well.

I thought the Blades didn't bring their "A" game. Gaining 3 out of 4 points against the #2 team in the chl is a pretty impressive feat. I still don't think the Tigers are firing on all cylinders, and they have some problems to fix before the playoffs come around. But this weekends games were good steps in the right direction.

The Tigers were missing 4 of their defenceman out with injuries. Tyler Bunz played real well, and the Tigers easily could have potted 7-8 goals if Steven Stanford wasn't playing on his head.

Linden Vey is starting to develop some bad habits defensively, he's thinking too much offense and playing extremely risky defensively. I thought the Tigers 4th line played phenomenal on the weekend. They were huge factors in both games and were dominating the blades 4th line which they were matched up against. Keep up the good work!

I like the play of new Tigers defenceman Alex Theriau. He is very smart with the puck, and has a pretty good shot.

Thomas Carr laid an absolute licking in a fight with Blades Ryan Olsen after a suicide pass left Curtis Valk vulnerable to a big hit. The ref gave Carr an instigator on the play. From what we've seen from the arena there seems to be quite a discrepancy as to what the refs are calling for the instigator.

The Tigers seemed to be fighting the refs a little as the zebras were letting the high hits and elbows go, but were calling the hooks.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tigers Defeat Cougars 5-2

The score had no indication of how the game was played. The Tigers put out a good first 5 minutes but after that I felt like the Tigers were skating with weights on their feet.

The Tigers did do a good job at clearing out rebounds and second chances, but they gave up a bunch of shots in close. Sean Clouston was very vocal on the bench in the first period trying to get the guys pumped up. Clouston took out some of his frustrations on young Hunter Shinkaruk after a risky pass in his own end. Shinkaruk would later make up for it with his 13 goal of the season.

I thought Sebastien Owuya, Hunter Shinkaruk, Tyler Bunz all had very good games. Another game where Bunz saved 2 pts.
Linden Vey I thought looked incredibly tired on the ice. Just didn't have the usual energy or jump in his game.

Dylan Businius took over the Tigers Defenceman goal scoring lead with his 6th of the season. The young 17 year old has 4 points in his last 4 games.

Patrik Parkkonen made a very nice rush up the ice and Reid Petryk put in the rebound.

I'd like to see more out of Kellan Tochkin. Bob Ridley Mentioned that Alex Theriau is likely to suit up against Regina on Saturday.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tigers Defeat Warriors 4-1

Very feisty game tonight. Both teams were playing like it was the playoffs. Both teams giving out big hits and scrums after every whistle. The linesman were very adamant about stopping some of the fights, there could have been 6 or 7 instead of the three that developed.

Game Thoughts
I thought Jace Coyle has looked very good when compared to the early parts of the season. Scott Ramsay was given quite a bit of ice-time and played real physical around the net.

Tyler Bunz played phenomenal, one of his best games this year. The game felt like it should have been a 3-3 tie, but Bunz was the difference.

Dylan Bredo continues to develop into a premier defensive forward. It was good to see Curtis Valk chip in with some offense. Kale Kessy played a much better game. he plays better when he is physical, and that element has completely dried up during the last month.

I thought Wacey Hamilton is taking to long handling the puck during the powerplay. He is losing it often skating into no support areas.

Linden Vey is starting to get a little too selfish on the ice. Some games when he carries the puck it works, but lately he has been keyed on and getting caught.

I think the Tigers powerplay should look at including at least one defenseman on the point. They are starting to give up as many chances as they create. The last man back is playing too risky and eventually it will bite them in a big way.

Sebastien Owuya got walloped in a fight with Cody Beach. Owuya has only been in one fight before and he has turned down guys that are a lot less skilled in fighting. You could say it was either fairly brave or I'll advised to take on Beach with Owuya's lack of fighting experience.

However Owuya should be applauded for his efforts. After the fight Beach stopped chirping and he was invisible the rest of the night, and it seemed to light a fire under Owuya when he came back.

Boston Leier fought Jordan Wyton. Fairly even scrap. Wyton with an early edge and Leier came around late.

Kale Kessy vs Joel Edmundson. This looked like a very intense scrap. Kessey laid out a warrior along the boards and Edmundson came racing in throwing punches. Unfortunately I couldn't see a thing as it was against the glass along the warriors bench.


A little math today.

Projected points based on winning percentage)
Red Deer=103.4
Medicine Hat=96
Moose Jaw=88.2

First place is extremely unlikely. The Tigers would have to go virtually undefeated for the rest of the season for a shot at first, and even then Saskatoon would have to drop pace a little.

Red Deer projects 7 points ahead of the Tigers. The Tigers play Red Deer 3 times. If Red Deer keeps their current pace the Tigers would need an .833 record or 35 of 42 points to earn second place. Second place is still possible but fading very quickly. Red Deer has been red-hot lately the Tigers will be in tough, Although 3 outright victories in head to head matches would put them almost even.

The Tigers project to end in third place 2 points ahead of Kootenay. The Tigers have 1 meeting left against the Ice. A 2 point span is one game. 3rd and 4th could be a coin flip between the Tigers and Ice if they keep relative equal pace..

The warriors Project at 88 points. 8 points behind the Tigers. If moose Jaw kept at their current pace. The Tigers would only need 20 of 42 points or a .476 record to keep ahead of them. If the warriors get hot they could make it a 3 way for the last 2 Home Ice playoff spots.

Edmonton Projects at 70.6 points. If the Tigers keep their current pace, Edmonton wouldn't be able to catch the Tigers. I would put 6th or lower as extremely unlikely. The Tigers would have to fall off the map, then the table.

Compared to last year at 51 games the Tigers had 64 points, so they are 4 points head of last years pace. Last year at this time the Tigers were starting to fall behind the elite teams. This year I would put the Tigers as half a step behind the top teams. I'm eager to see what the new defenceman can do for the Tigers after he is fully integrated into the lineup.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Giants Defeat Tigers 3-2

Buzzer Beater
Giants scored the game winning goal with no time left on the clock, on a quick desperate last minute wrap-around. The refs debated the goal, then went upstairs, debated the goal again before giving the giants the goal after a good long discussion.

The ref didn't signal a goal on the play, and by whl rules they must have had clear evidence the puck was in before the buzzer sounded to award a goal. By the body language the Referee was showing on the ice, he made one helluva tough decision.

Game Thoughts
I thought Bunz, Vey, Carr, Grbavac, Tochkin didn't show very much energy on the ice. I thought they all struggled with Vancouver's extremely tight gap and dirty shirt style of play.

I thought Dylan Bredo played an amazing game tonight. Etem had a rough night but he battled through it and I really liked seeing that.

I liked for the most part the defensive progress the Tigers showed. They were doing a lot of the little things right and making quality pokechecks.

I thought Vancouver looked intimidated in the first period. The Giants played a bit slow and were very chirpy after the whistle. Vancouver played a lot harder as the game wore-on and it was the Tigers that were hearing footsteps at games end.

Their seemed to be a bunch of interference, but the Giants had good positioning and had their hands on their sticks. The refs look for one hand off the stick for those holding or interference calls.

Playoff Push
The type of game played tonight is going to be very common in the playoffs. Vancouver was pushing hard all night for body positioning, and when you have body position on the player the chances of the ref calling a penalty go way down.