Game 40: Punchless Thunderbirds shutout by Portland as they drop 6th straight

Jan 14, 2012, 9:52 PM | Updated: Jan 15, 2012, 1:43 am

By Mike Caccioppoli

(29-12-2-1) Portland Winterhawks 4, (16-23-0-1) Seattle Thunderbirds 0

As the game went on they got better and we got weaker. We aren’t a mentally tough team right now or a confident team right now. We need to start from scratch and build that up…..You get confidence by doing the right things. Sometimes you try to do too much. You just have to stay within the system. We have some guys that do and some guys that don’t. I hope the leadership core get together and hold people accountable. I can shorten up the bench if I need to but we need everybody to buy in...Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk

 

KENT- The Winterhawks use three second period goals to defeat the Thunderbirds 4-0. The loss was the sixth straight for the Birds who were also outshot 52-25. It was the second straight game the Birds were shutout by Portland.

No scoring in the first period with the Hawks outshooting the Birds 15-7. Calvin Pickard looked on his game and had to be with Portland getting some good scoring chances.

A series of penalties led to the ever dangerous four on three situation and Portland took advantage as Ty Rattie (39) put them up 1-0 at 3:13.

Just 41 seconds later Oliver Gabriel (3) scored a four on four goal to make it a 2-0 Hawks lead.

In predictable fashion former T-Bird Marcel Noebels (11) scored his first goal as a Winterhawk to give them a 3-0 lead at 12:32.

Seattle was down 3-0 after 40 minutes and were being outshot 36-18.

Portland took a 4-0 lead at 18:21 of the third period. Troy Rutkowski scored his seventh goal of the season.

That finished the scoring and the Birds lose 4-0.

 

Quotes of the game:

Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk on his evaluation of the effort tonight…

Not smart as far as puck management and penalties.I didn’t mind the first period. We had some energy. A couple of guys didn’t have it though. As the game went on they got better and we got weaker. We aren’t a mentally tough team right now or a confident team right now. We need to start from scratch and build that up.

 

On the lack of confidence…

Guys are frustrated now, you can see that. We have to address that. We have a lot of hockey left and it isn’t going to get any easier so those guys have to fix it.

 

On the team heading into its third straight January swoon…

All I know is how we are playing right now. You get confidence by doing the right things. Sometimes you try to do too much. You just have to stay within the system. We have some guys that do and some guys that don’t. I hope the leadership core get together and hold people accountable.I can shorten up the bench if I need to but we need everybody to buy in.

 

On why Hickman was a scratch in Kamloops and Jacobs was a scratch tonight..

Just some disciplinary things that we address from within the team.

 

On his early assessment of additions Swenson and Wagner..

Good players. Some depth we can build on and leadership to get us playing the way we need to.

 

On having to play more good teams this coming week…

We have to focus on how we play. They way we are playing right now anybody can beat us. We need to start from scratch in a way. We need to get out game going.

 

On allowing too many shorthanded chances on the power play…

We are trying to score goals. Sometimes we put a forward on the back end and that hasn’t always been the answer. I thought against Kamloops we moved the puck well and had possession. Tonight was a step back.

 

On having a busy schedule up ahead with the team not playing well..

I wanna play. We will work ourselves out of this.

 

Plus side:

Calvin again. Pickard makes 48 saves and keeps his team as close as possible. Nothing more he could do.

 

Minus side:

Shutout. Coming into the game the Birds had only given up two more goals than Portland. Let that sink in a bit. However for the second straight game they are shutout by the Hawks. Tonight they never really came close to scoring.

Where is the energy? You are at home with a good crowd and playing your arch rivals yet there is no extra drive or energy to your game. That describes how the Birds looked tonight. It’s ok when you win boring but it’s a different story when you lose boring.

No Defense. The patchwork defense that was holding up ok during the first half is now starting to crumble. The shots against are becoming more dangerous… too many shots from inside the slot and too many quality scoring chances (shots between face off circles).

No Forwards. Can’t just blame the defense. Where are the Birds forwards? The guys that should be scoring simply aren’t. Some are still looking for the perfect shot instead of just shooting when there is an opportunity and others can’t finish when they do get the chance.

Powerless play. Now the lack of success is leading to shorthanded chances and more work for Pickard when he should have a couple of minutes of rest.

Six. The Birds are on a season high six game losing streak and the teams below them are starting to gain some ground. Seems like deja vu all over again (for the third season in a row).

Kono. Not really a minus but it’s now time for Konowalchuk to show how good a coach he is and get his team to not quit and turn a corner before it’s too late.

 

Game Notes:

-F Colin Jacobs was a healthy scratch.

D Evan Wardley remains out with an upper body injury.

-F Brendan Rouse remains out with a hand injury.

-F Branden Troock was thrown out of the game in the second period. (Game Misconduct).

– Seattle drops to 10-10-0-1 at home. They are 1-5 against Portland. (1-2 home, 0-3 road).

– Calvin Pickard drops to 16-19-0-1. Mac Carruth improves to 27-10-1.

 

Thunderbirds second half record: 3-6.

 

710Sports.com three stars:

First star: Derrick Pouliot (two assists…plus 2)

Second star: Marcel Noebels (goal..plus 2)

Third star: Calvin Pickard (48/52 saves)

 

The Thunderbirds play Monday afternoon at 2 pm in Spokane against the Chiefs. The game can be heard live at 710Sports.com.

Game summary is on the WHL website.

twitter @mike710espn

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