Inside the numbers: Thunderbirds vs. Everett

Apr 6, 2016, 1:14 PM | Updated: 1:17 pm
Everett had a 6-2-1-1 record vs. Seattle in the regular season, but Seattle won the final three mat...
Everett had a 6-2-1-1 record vs. Seattle in the regular season, but Seattle won the final three matchups. (T-Birds)
(T-Birds)

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Thunderbirds’ second-round playoff series against the Everett Silvertips:

3. Times the T-Birds beat Everett during their hot streak at the end of the season. It was a major turning of the tide as the Silvertips had dominated the matchup for the majority of the regular season. Even with the T-Birds reigning victorious in each of the final three matchups, Everett’s record against Seattle to end the regular season was 6-2-1-1, while Seattle was 4-6-0-0.

32. The difference between Seattle and Everett’s goal differentials this season. The T-Birds outscored their opponents by 42 goals during the regular season, while Everett outscored its opponents by just 10. Seattle had 46 more goals than Everett while allowing just 14 more.

6.7. The difference in power-play percentages during the regular season between the two teams. Seattle’s power play converted at a 23.7 percent clip, third-best in the league. Meanwhile, the Silvertips didn’t see much offense at all when they had the man advantage, as their 17 percent conversion rate was 21st in the WHL, ahead of only Kootenay.

In the first round, the T-Birds didn’t get nearly as much out of their power play as they would have hoped, converting only two of their 16 chances. However, those two power play goals came in the final two games of the series, the last of which sent Game 4 to overtime. So progress is being made.

8.1. The difference in penalty-kill percentages during the regular season. For an Everett team that allowed so few goals to finish with only the 16th-ranked penalty kill is a surprise. Overall, the Silvertips killed 77.2 percent of their shorthanded chances, while Seattle killed 85.3, best in the WHL.

Both Seattle and Everett allowed three goals on 18 power-play opportunities in Round 1 to their respective opponents.

1. Number of games played by Silvertips goalie Carter Hart in the first round. Hart is arguably the best goaltender in the WHL and his absence in Round 1 had some wondering if Portland might be slated for an upset. However, backup goalie Mario Petit performed admirably in the first three games of the series, securing victories in each contest he started.

“He was our most valuable player and put us in position to have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine told Jesse Geleynse of the Everett Herald on the decision to start Hart in Game Four. Had Constantine chosen to continue resting his starter and Petit clinched the series, it would have been nearly a month since Hart saw game action.

10. Number of points by Ryan Gropp in head-to-head matchups during the regular season between Seattle and Everett, the most by any player on either team. In fact, the speedy left wing was the only one on either roster to average a point per game. Gropp missed all of Round 1 with an upper-body injury and is currently listed as week-to-week by the Thunderbirds. The New York Rangers draft pick did not practice last weekend and his presence for Round 2 is highly questionable at this point.

Without Gropp in the lineup, Seattle is missing 34 goals from the regular season, as well as a valuable power-play contributor. Coach Steve Konowalchuk has a number of options to replace him on the top line, but there’s no doubt that missing Gropp is a huge loss for the T-Birds.

1. Game remaining in the two-game suspension for T-Birds forward Keegan Kolesar for his hit on Sam Ruopp in the first round. With Gropp likely missing at least the early part of Round 2 and probably more, Kolesar’s absence in Game 1 means Seattle is without arguably its two best wings. Kolesar, an aggressive forechecker, will be important in this series as someone who can wear down a tight Everett defensive group.

4. The number of games it took each team to win its first-round series. Seattle and Everett swept Prince George and Portland, respectively. Based on the way each team finished the season, the Silvertips’ dominance was a much bigger surprise. Not only did they limp into the playoffs with a 3-5-1-1 record in their last 10 games of the regular season, but they were also missing their best player for the majority of the series in Hart.

While a sweep is almost never expected in the playoffs, Seattle’s dominance to finish the regular season gave the indication that T-Birds would likely make short work of their first-round opponent. They did just that with Prince George, winning four in a row to set up the second-round matchup with their local rivals.

15. Goals scored by both Seattle and Everett in the first round, an average of 3.75 per game. That exceeds the regular-season average for both teams, where Seattle put the puck in 3.17 times per game and Everett 2.53 times. Neither team scored fewer than three goals in any of their first-round contests, once again a bigger surprise for Everett, which struggled to score all season long.

6. The number of goals surrendered by Seattle and Everett in Round 1, an average of 1.5 per game. Noticing a pattern here? During the first round, both teams finished with very similar numbers playing against two teams that were comparable in the standings. Portland scored an average of 3.17 times during regular season, Prince George an average of 3.33. They mustered the same number of goals during the first round in their disappointing defeats.

5. Goals scored by both Seattle’s “checking” line and Everett’s top scoring line in Round 1. Seattle’s group is made up of Scott Eansor, Nolan Volcan and Donovan Neuls, three players who played a shutdown role last year but have grown offensively this season. It’s tough to call this group a checking line anymore, despite its excellent defensive play. Getting a continued contribution from this line will go far in helping Seattle defeat Everett.

For Everett, its top scoring line of Remi Laurencelle, Dawson Leedahl and Carson Stadnyk also amassed five goals in four games in the series against Portland. The two lines will likely be matched up against each other more often than not, and if the T-Birds win this matchup, they should hold the advantage in the series.

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Inside the numbers: Thunderbirds vs. Everett