The nature of Wednesday night’s game against Kelowna, combined with something mentioned during Wednesday night’s live blog, combined with something Everett coach Kevin Constantine mentioned after practice today, got me thinking …
Everett’s hit a rough patch from a results standpoint. Since Dec. 3, the Tips are 5-11-2-1. That’s 14 defeats in the past 19 contests, which is not good. However, the peripheral numbers don’t necessarily correlate with Everett’s record over that stretch:
– All of Everett’s losses during that stretch have basically been close. Of the 14 losses, six are by a single goal, and five others included an empty-net goal by the opposition. Indeed, in each of Everett’s past 16 games it’s either been tied or a one-goal game in the third period.
– Though Everett is losing, the Tips are still outshooting opponents. In the 14 losses, Everett outshot its opponent eight times, and twice the shots were tied. During this stretch the Tips are outshooting their opponents by an average of 32.8-27.5.
– Every single one of the 14 losses has been against a team with a current winning percentage of no worse than .521.
The conclusion? Everett is playing tight games against very good opposition, but the Tips have been unable to find a way to get over the hump. What does Everett need to to get over that hump? Good question, and I don’t necessarily have the answer to that. But the numbers suggest it’s a thin line between Everett struggling and the Tips being right among the contenders.
One of the things that could help get Everett over that hump is the return of captain Matt Pufahl. The overage defenseman has missed the past six games because of a ribs issue. The Tips were just 3-for-27 (11.1 percent) on the power play in those games, and one has to think Pufahl’s absence from the point on the PP has been a factor.
Pufahl’s recovery has been delayed by a bout with strep throat, which will likely keep him out of this weekend’s three-in-three. However, the Tips are hopeful he’ll be ready to return next week.
Everett has two other injuries of note. Winger Zane Jones is dealing with an upper-body issue. Constantine said Jones could probably play through the injury if necessary, but that there would be a possibility of doing further damage. Therefore, he’ll be rested two weeks. Also, winger Logan Aasman suffered a broken finger in practice Tuesday, so he’ll be laid up three weeks.