Bullet points today:
– Both Everett and Portland have one crucial overager who’s dealing with injury issues.
Everett winger Ryan Harrison’s star-crossed season continues as he’s considered doubtful for the opening weekend of the playoffs. Harrison suffered an upper-body injury at Spokane on March 8 and hasn’t played since. He hasn’t practiced this week and is unlikely to play in Games 1 and 2 in Portland. This is a significant blow for the Tips as Harrison not only is capable of providing offense, his energy and combative style would be most welcome in a playoff setting.
Portland, meanwhile, was without goaltender Mac Carruth for the final weekend of the regular season. Carruth was pulled late in Portland’s game against Victoria on March 12 with an unspecified injury, and he sat out the weekend. However, this turns out to be less of an issue for the Winterhawks. Portland acting coach Travis Green said he expected Carruth to be ready by Friday, and even if he isn’t, Brendan Burke went 7-0 against the Tips this season, so I’m sure the Winterhawks won’t hesitate to continue resting Carruth if needed.
In other injury news, Everett is also likely to be without winger Logan Aasman (upper body) for the first two games. However, defenseman Austin Adam and winger Lucas Grayson are likely to be available.
– The WHL held its draft lottery today, with Regina winning. That means the Pats moved up two spots and will pick second overall. Vancouver retained the first-overall pick. The first-round draft order was also released, and Everett will be picking seventh. The Tips had the league’s fourth-worst record during the regular season, but the six teams that didn’t make the playoffs get the first six picks. So if you want to look at it that way, the Tips sacrificed three spots in the first round to make the playoffs. Everett will pick fourth in the second round and beyond.
– Lastly, something completely unrelated. The Prince George Cougars are sort of the WHL’s pariah, being geographically isolated and constantly at the bottom of the standings, missing the playoffs in four of the past six seasons. But Cougars forward Troy Bourke has had enough. He’s vowing to change the culture in Prince George, and he had strong words to that effect after the Cougars’ season ended. I think what Bourke said is tremendous. Taking on responsibility in such a forceful and public manner is unusual for players this age. Hopefully he follows through and it works out for him and the Cougars.