I finally have a few moments to put down some thoughts from the weekend after the Portland Winterhawks dropped Games 1 and 2 at home to the Vancouver Giants…
Well…it was certainly an interesting two games statistically…the two teams combined for 26 goals, 47 assists, 184 shots and 236 penalty minutes. I got writers cramp writing it all down and I’m working on making sure the online game sheets are correct at the WHL League site.
Of the 26 goals scored, 13 have been scored 5 on 5 even strength, six have been scored while 4 on 4 even strength, four have been scored on 5 on 4 power plays, one has been scored while 4 on 5 shorthanded, one has been scored 5 on 6 into an empty net and the last was scored on a 5 on 5 power play into an empty net. Criminy…
There has been a lot of discussion about officiating and I admit I was frustrated the first two games and I let that show too much on occasion on the air. My biggest beef with the way the series has been called is that the officials appear to be letting the first punch in a scrum go and then once the other team retaliates, they even up the penalties. They had no intention, or it appeared they had no intention, of calling the first punch when it happened, so why do they call it after the other team responds?
If it were me…and believe me, I have no desire to become an official…I would let both teams know that I am going to call the first punch thrown and stick to it. If the other team responds after that, match it up. If they don’t, send the first offender to the box to serve a roughing minor and I would almost bet money that the amount of after the whistle scrums would reduce after the first couple of times that the first offender is sent off. Players would be less willing to throw the first one knowing they could put their team shorthanded and players would be less willing to respond knowing they could negate a power play for their team.
In the end, IMO, if it were called this way, we would have shorter scrums and less chance of a multi-fight situation in most games.
With that being said…it is apparent that both Vancouver and Portland like to play the game on the edge. It makes for a physical tone and short fuses. Whomever officiates the remainder of the series is going to be in tough keeping it civil and under control and for the fans, it should be fun to watch.
In the end, the power plays almost evened out…Vancouver went 3 for 10 while Portland went 2 for 8…while we had 10 coincidental penalty situations.
Back to the games themselves…it is apparent that the Vancouver Giants transition game caused Portland trouble in the first two games and the Hawks will need to make adjustments to slow them down heading into Game 3. Brendan Gallagher, James Henry and Craig Cunningham are running wild every chance they get and they are the catalysts to the offensive game and they have good support from bigger forwards Lance Bouma, James Wright, Tomas Vincour and Milan Kytnar.
At the other end…the Hawks have certainly generated enough goals and chances to win games…and they will need to continue to do so to get back in the series. I thought Ty Rattie was terrific in the two games over the weekend and certainly Ryan Johansen had a great game in Game 1…but not so in Game 2. Nino Niederreiter had two assists last night, but needs to light the lamp as well.
The Hawks have proven they can win on the road…now they will need to do it again to get this series back to Portland next week.
Wednesday night’s game will be aired on Freedom 970 KCMD with yours truly and Todd Vrooman. John Kirby will join us for Game 4 on Friday and, hopefully, Game 5 on Saturday at the Pacific Coliseum.
More from Vancouver later this week…