Game 1: Everett 4, Portland 3
Game 2: Portland 4, Everett 1 (series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Portland at Everett, Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4: Portland at Everett, Friday, 7:35 p.m.
Game 5: Everett at Portland, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Game 6 (if necessary): Portland at Everett, Monday, 7:05 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): Everett at Portland, Wednesday, April 3, 7 p.m.
The series shifts back to Everett for Wednesday’s Game 3, and one would think that’s a factor in Everett’s favor. But then there’s this:
That was Portland’s road record this season. The 29 road wins were the most ever by a WHL team. The Winterhawks’ road record was better than its home record this season. And Portland, of course, won four of five in Everett. With a modest crowd expected for a midweek first-round playoff game (attendance almost always drops across the league during the first round as teams lose their season-ticket holders), the idea of Everett having home-ice advantage may be something of a red herring. That said, the last time the Tips and Hawks played at Comcast Arena, Everett won 4-2. The Tips will need to play the way they did that night — great goaltending, maximum effort throughout the 60 minutes, bodies in front of Portland goalie Mac Carruth — to prevail in Game 3.
Everett will likely get some players back for Game 3. Forwards Logan Aasman and Mitch Skapski and defenseman Ayrton Nikkel, who all missed the first two games of the series because of injury, have been cleared to return. Nikkel is perhaps the biggest surprise from that bunch, as I was given the impression he wouldn’t be able to return from his finger injury during the first round. Nikkel is a rugged player, and with the way the series became heated in Game 2, his presence will be welcome should he make the lineup.
One player who won’t be back, however, is key overage winger Ryan Harrison. Harrison still hasn’t practiced since suffering what was revealed to be a concussion against Spokane on March 8. He’s hoping to get back sometime in the series, but it won’t be tomorrow.
Harrison’s absence is huge for the Tips as his intense in-your-face style is well-suited for the playoff grind — Harrison was providing color commentary on the radio broadcasts for Games 1 and 2, and he was allegedly jumping out of his skin during the post-whistle scrums because he wanted to get involved. So it’s up to his teammates to make sure the playoff run continues long enough for him to get back on the ice.