The Silvertips are unquestionably huge underdogs to the Portland Winterhawks in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series, which begins Friday. Portland won the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record during the regular season and finished with more than twice as many points (117-57) as Everett. The Winterhawks won the season series 9-1. The consensus is Everett will have a hard enough time winning a game, let alone the series.
But upsets do happen in sports. Everett will need to play a perfect series to make that happen. What’s the formula for the Tips to pull off the miracle?
1) Get stellar goaltending. Austin Lotz will need to be spectacular for Everett to have a chance. Portland will unquestionably get more quality scoring chances. Everett’s netminder will have to even the score by stealing away some of those scoring chances with the type of spectacular saves he’s known for.
2) Keep the play five-on-five. If the series becomes a special teams battle the Tips are in trouble, as Portland was among the league’s best on both the power play and the penalty kill, while Everett was among the league’s worst. Even four-on-four is to Portland’s advantage as the extra ice favors Portland’s speed and quickness. So the Tips are going to have to be the most disciplined they’ve been all season long.
3) Play physical. Portland’s forwards are elite when it comes to speed and skill. But what the Winterhawks lack up front this season that they’ve had in the past is size. If Everett can be physical with Portland’s smaller forwards, the Tips may be able to grind them down over the course of the series and limit their effectiveness.
4) Hit the net. Shooting accuracy hasn’t been Everett’s strength this season, with shots from good positions often going wide. Scoring chances will be at a premium for the Tips, so they’re going to have to capitalize. That means putting shots on frame so they have a chance to go in or create a rebound.
5) Get lucky. Lady luck is going to have to intervene on Everett’s side. Whether it’s in the form of bounces, officiating or whatever, the breaks need to go Everett’s way for the Tips to have a chance.
It’s a longshot. But if the Tips can somehow accomplish all those things, they might be able to make a series of it.
Meanwhile, the WHL released its Western Conference all-star teams and award nominees today. No Everett players were named to either the first or second team, and Everett did not have an award nominee. I can’t remember the last time the Tips were completely shut out.
And in today’s unrelated link, check out former Silvertip Radko Gudas’ first NHL goal.