The Saskatoon Blades are coming off two very big wins on the road, both of the "come from behind" variety.
Last Wednesday they came from 2 goals back after 40 minutes to beat the Broncos, then on Saturday night they earned an OT win in Medicine Hat after trailing in that hockey game.
They are looking to keep that momentum going as they host the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight at CUC.
The Thunderbirds are playing the 3rd of their 6 game Eastern swing and are coming off a loss to Moose Jaw in a shootout on Sunday. They also lost to Brandon in regulation on Saturday.
Seattle so far is 3rd in the US division at 6-4-2-3 and are known for playing tight games. They have scored the fewest goals in the league (40), but have also given up the fewest goals (40).
They can do that because they might have the best goalie in the WHL in Calvin Pickard. He was selected in the 2nd round of the NHL draft this summer by the Colorado Avalanche and is living up to that hype so far this year. He has the 4th best goals against average in the league (2.39) and the 2nd best save percentage (.934).
Being a huge Avalanche fan myself, I've had this game circled on my calendar all season and I can't wait to watch him.
Saskatoon meanwhile is 1st in the Eastern division @ 13-5-0-0 and lead the red hot Moose Jaw Warriors by 5 points. They sit tied for first in the Eastern Conference with Kootenay. Saskatoon is 7-1 on home ice with Seattle going 3-3-1-2 on the road so far this year.
Adam Morrison has been confirmed as the starter for the game, but I don't know yet who goes in goal for Seattle. I would say there is about a 90% chance it's Pickard.
Here are my keys to the game:
- Keep the game close. That has been their bread and butter this year as they don’t have the offense to blow teams out. They need to keep it close and try to win a 1 goal game, especially on the road.
- Lean heavy on Calvin Pickard. This kid is the backbone and might be the best goalie in the entire league. He needs to be strong again tonight as he has been all season.
- Establish a hard forecheck. This team has been very effective in that aspect of the game lately, and when they use it to their advantage, it creates scoring chances and draws penalties.
- Use their team speed. Seattle is one of the biggest and strongest teams in the league, the way to counter that is with wheels…something Saskatoon has.
And then for both teams I want to look at special teams. Seattle features the 4th best powerplay on the road and Saskatoon has the 3rd best home penalty kill. We will see which side prevails in that specific area tonight as something has to give there.
If you can't make it to the game, you can listen live on 92.9 The Bull starting with the pre-game show at 6:30.