The layoff between series left room for lots of preview pieces, but this one from Drinnan is the must read out of the bunch:
"It all has served to turn the Winterhawks into the most despised - nay, most hated - organization in the history of the WHL, which has been around since the summer of 1966. Who's No. 2? No one. The Winterhawks are the only entrant. They rule. They own the category. Back in the day, the Flin Flon Bombers and the big, bad New Westminster Bruins were feared for what they might do to you on the ice. But the organizations weren't hated.
The Winterhawks are. Period."
**** Game 1 ****
fans postgame discussion
In my opinion Bozon hurt his team by playing. I'll wager he begged Charon to play, totally ineffective. Smith was no better. They were better off without both vs. Kelowna, but what are you gonna do vs. a team that has you outnumbered.
Paul Buker / Scott Sepich piece
Maybe it was Carruth, a notorious trash talker, who got into the Blazers’ heads.
“They kind of left me alone there in the first, and I kind of brought it on myself in the second and third,’’ he said of the back-and-forth. “It’s something I’ll probably need to work on in Game 2. Keep my mouth shut and my stick down.’’
Carruth said Kessy – who amazingly has been suspended seven times in his career – nailed him a good one. “He elbowed me, stuck me in the head, whatever. It’s what they’re going to try and do all series,’’ said Carruth. “It’s just going to be the way it is.’’
Dylan Bumbarger, one of the best Winterhawks bloggers, had some thoughts:
But in the last five minutes, as the Blazers became less focused on winning and more focused on "sending a message", the Winterhawks took some ill-advised retaliations. Adam De Champlain took a really dumb obvious trip at the Kamloops blue line and then added a rough that originally was going to put Portland shorthanded four minutes, which would have given the Blazers a chance to get back in the game, before Tyler Hansen took a dumb retaliation of his own and cancelled two minutes of it.From another Dylan post:
Not remarked on in the scoring: The monster game Seth Jones had. I thought he was Portland's best player after Carruth. Nobody got by him.
So, a good performance, with a slight worry about the impact of the end of the game.
**** Game 2 ****
question: is Portland playing at a higher level than they did on their double-digit winning streaks? I think they might be.Paul Buker / Scott Sepich piece:
Kamloops’ worst nightmare is unfolding in the Western Conference finals. The question is, can the Blazers do anything to stop it?
Dylan's next day thoughts:
Following yesterday's events you'd have no idea which organization was out of favor with the league. Yes, I'm as shocked as anyone else.
Finally, the most obvious part, and the most satisfying: the Winterhawks didn't overreact. They learned from Friday, and did just enough to defend themselves, let the Blazers hang themselves with officials, and used the power plays to help gain momentum. That the league essentially backed them up helped--you see teams including the Winterhawks all the time taking matters into their own hands when they don't feel justice is being served--but kudos to the group for staying focused.
The Winterhawks were almost perfect in their own zone the whole game. Seth Jones had one mixup/bad pass that led to a Kamloops partial breakaway, the only real blemish.
I'd have still given him the number one star. If his draft stock even needed to rise, it did this weekend, he even gained some points in the "physical" and "standing up for teammates" categories.Next day Buker / Sepich piece full of great quotes:
Charron is waiting for Kamloops’ skilled forwards to show up. The likes of Colin Smith and Tim Bozon, Brendan Ranford and JC Lipon.
“With all the experience I've had in hockey, when you look at the success of teams you have to look at your best players,’’ Charron told the Oregonian’s Scott Sepich after Saturday’s game. “Their best players are on the scoresheet every night. For us, our big guns haven't showed up on the scoresheet yet and it's going to be difficult until they get going.’’Mac Carruth is killing it:
Is there a hotter goaltender in hockey than Portland's Mac Carruth, the Chicago Blackhawks' draft pick?
Find me somebody - at any level - who has had a more sizzling month of April.
Samantha Meese made some observations:
Better late than never: The Blazers start a three-ring circus late in Game 1, Joe Mahon returns to the lineup in Game 2. Coincidence? I think not. But no fireworks of the fighting kind were needed until late in the third period of Game 2, when Joe finally took care of business with JC Lipon to the delight of a packed house.
|throw another draft pick on the fire|
The events of the weekend's games have been covered pretty well, so I'm going a different direction.
I've been pushing this idea for a while now, but we are in the midst of something truly special right now. Its in our best interest as fans to take all of this in, as a wave like the 'Hawks are riding doesn't come around very often. Every game we are seeing records set - franchise playoff shutouts, all time WHL games played, the all time playoff goals number is in jeopardy, etc etc etc.
Around town, at work, or whatever - more and more folks notice my 'Hawks gear (and playoff beard) and ask me "how are they doing? We're thinking about getting to a game..." - and I always tell them that there's plenty of room on the bandwagon, but they better do it quick. The next home game could very well be Game 1 of the final. This train is rollin' along with a head of steam.
I've been backing the 'Hawks since the tail end of the 2005 season, and I've never seen the Glass Palace rocking like it was on Saturday night. I was still on the concourse at the start of player intros and it sounded like they were scoring goals already. The folks by me were all sorts of rowdy, which made for a pretty fun atmosphere - one guy was hellbent on getting a "KESSY SUCKS" chant going, with mixed results.
I missed the goddamned Boychuk jersey from the 2011 final by 3 tickets in the raffle. I was joking about how it had to be in good shape, being how he missed time in that series.
Cherish this run - who knows when (if) we will see something like this again. Spokane was a good team, with a nice season, and their best couldn't touch the 'Hawks best. Blew 'em right out of the water. This series is still young, but its shaping up much the same: if the 'Hawks play their game, up to their potential, then the Blazers don't stand a chance. No one does.