Sunday, May 5, 2013

Edmonton V Portland: Games 1 & 2

**** Game 1 ****


video highlights

post-game presser

photo essay

post-game fan discussion
Brossoit will dominate the series and Portland might win a game this series. Getting outplayed and outclassed. Fans were quiet as mice tonight, but they dont care they dont help the team fight. It is as if Portland does not have home ice advantage. Congratulations to another Western Conference Championship, sorry no tickie to Saskatoon.
Paul Buker piece
Edmonton couldn’t get the puck out of its own zone at the start.
“Portland came out with a lot of energy and caught us on our heels a little bit,’’ said Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal. “That crowd was electric right off the hop and got them into the game. … we bent, but we didn’t break.’’
The Hawks couldn’t take advantage, and they watched in horror as Dylan Wruck scored on the Oil Kings’ first shot against Mac Carruth.
 Jason Vondersmith's piece
Brossoit said the amount of shots he had to stop helped get him into the game.
"In the first three (playoff) series, I'd have to keep my focus. I wouldn't get a shot for a period at a time," he said. "Coming into this game, I got a consistent amount of shots. You can ask any goalie, they love that. It keeps them in the game. I'm just glad I was seeing the puck."
Edmonton Journal

PORTLAND, ORE.— As they explained their 4-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks on Friday night, the Edmonton Oil Kings often mentioned weathering the storm.
Truth be told, from goaltender Laurent Brossoit’s 35-save night to the physical punishment that every Oil Kings skater endured to the blazing speed of Portland’s top line of Ty Rattie, Nicolas Petan and Brendan Leipsic (who combined for 350 points during the regular season), the Oil Kings didn’t just weather a storm; they survived a monsoon.
Beaten up and down the ice and beaten up in the literal sense, the Oil Kings still never trailed in the first game of the Western Hockey League championship series.

Looking at that highlight package, it leads off with the first Edmonton goal - which fails to tell the story of the total Portland domination for the first 2.5 minutes of the game prior to that goal.  Of course, there's still 57.5 minutes left in a game, but that was a display of brilliance the 'Hawks were working with.

The way that Edmonton scored in Game 1 is not sustainable.  Two goals were broken plays, where no one from either team could hold on to the puck, and Wruck found it laying around and filed a semi-blind shot.  Those are difficult as a goalie, as with a shot off the rush you can track the player with the puck coming in on you, you can track the pass across to the open man, etc.  If the puck is just plinko'ing around, and then its coming at you high glove, that's hard to read. 

Same thing with the first Samuelsson goal - bouncing around until he got a blind shot at it.

His other goal was off a bad Rutowski turnover (which he rarely makes) + a screen, so that's closer to a typical goal.

The puck that deflected off of the back glass, and everyone lost it until it dropped right on Lazar's stick - again, not something you can repeat. 

In my book those goals are all pretty flukey.  Of course, the 'Hawks only scored one goal - but it was a playoff style goal:  drive the net, pick up deflections an rebounds.  It also was a 2nd line goal, which I've placed a lot of importance on.

How 'bout that psychical play from Keegan Iverson?  Dude is an undrafted 16 from MN - and the upside with him looks really good right now.  Bittner as well, the list is long right now.  Those guys getting a regular shift, at this level of the playoffs is going to pay huge dividends in the next several years.

I've never seen the WHL rule book, but the NHL has some things about kicking the puck:
 A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident. The following should clarify deflections following a kicked puck that enters the goal:
Seems to me that they assigned intent to Leipsic's non-goal, as he looked down at his skates, making a hockey stop, as the puck deflected into the back of net off of his blades.  I don't give a damn about intent: there was no distinct kicking motion there.  You can't argue that there was.  I said a the time, and I stand behind it:  ANY OTHER PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE, and that's a goal.  Leipsic has a reputation, and he takes tons of abuse while drawing very few calls.

Count that as a goal, and its a tie game.  Does that change how the game is played?

**** Game 2 ****

Had a friend on the way out of the RG talking with another person about the possibility of winning on home ice - talk about who would show up to present the trophy, Doerkson or Robison. Friend said in as few words "Robison will just send his henchman Doerkson to do it."

Other guy turns and notices Robison is standing right next to friend; had an awkward smile on his face apparently.

That's my 'cool story bro' for the night.
 Paul Buker's piece

The Hawks, for their part, probably thought Oil Kings’ center Henrik Samuelsson was overly-dramatic when Adam De Champlain got him with a knee and was given a two-minute minor.
Was Samuelsson begging for a major? After laying on the ice for several minutes and going to the dressing room he came right back on the ensuring Oil Kings’ power play.
The Oil Kings seemed to think it was a dirty play.
 “I didn’t see the full hit,’’ said Laxdal. “The ref said it was basically foot on foot and I’m going to take his word for it.’’ He said he would take another look on film to see if the play warranted further discipline.
 Jason Vondersmith's piece

Portland had seven power-play chances to Edmonton's three.
"Portland's the type of team that will sting you," Laxdal added. "We had to handle a lot of pressure.
"With Portland's skill level, if you're going to sit in the box all night, they're going to tear you apart. ... Their speed is unbelievable. They've got great transition. They got forwards who can scoot. Look at their passing, they were pretty sharp; we had a lot of passes that were off. It's tough to pick up pucks when they're at your feet, and you're trying to attack defensemen. We didn't do a good job of getting pucks in deep against them."

Start to finish the 'Hawks kicked their ass.

The main adjustment needed from Game 1 was the powerplay, and it worked.   They seemed to like feeding Rattie behind the goal line, who looked to set up guys in the slot - and it seemed to work.  They only went 1-for-7 on the PP in Game 2, but the winner came via the powerplay, on a Rattie backhander of a bouncing centering pass.

Again, the 2nd line delivered, with  Bjorkstrand as the best player on the ice was rewarded with a beautiful goal & #1st star of the night.  This kid was all over the ice in the offensive zone, threw some hits, and played well in his own end.  He's a 17 - so we are looking at potentially 2 more years of Ollie progressing in our backyard.

David Musil, who is 6"4' seemed to have his hands full physically with the 5"9' guys on the 'Hawks top line.  I can't say that Musil got beat a whole lot, but he's trying to use his size on them, with limited results. 

The kneeing call on de Champlain looked about the same on video as it did live:  I saw it, but I didn't see it.  Folks were all over the fact that Samuelsson was writing out his last will and testament laying on the ice, but mustered the strength to play on the ensuing powerplay - so I'll leave it at that.  In retrospect, many fans thought that play might result in a 5 minute major - and its probably the right call that it was only 2.

Taylor Peters has been taking the vast majority of the D zone draws, and that only makes sense.  When you have the best faceoff man in the 'Dub, you just as well use that weapon.  Of course, in the 3rd period it was less critical, as there weren't a whole hell of a lot of faceoffs in the 'Hawks end.

You can bet that Laxdal is disappointed in his team only getting 2 shots through on Carruth in the 3rd period.  You can't win a hockey game that way.

Seems to me that the 'Hawks have won 4 to 5 of the 6 periods played so far - I like these odds going up to Rexall for games 3 & 4.

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