WHL PLAYOFFS: Tips vs. Winterhawks

Here’s a breakdown of the best-of-seven, first-round Western Conference playoff series between the top-seeded Portland Winterhawks and the eighth-seeded Everett Silvertips.

Offense

This is as big a mismatch as the Western Hockey League can offer. Portland scored 333 goals during the regular season, the most in the league. Everett scored 171 goals, the fewest in the league.

Portland’s offense, built around its small, speedy and skilled forwards, is driven by its top line of Nicolas Petan, Ty Rattie and Brendan Leipsic. Petan and Leipsic tied for the league’s scoring title with 120 points. Rattie finished third with 110 despite missing 10 games because of the World Junior Hockey Championships. Those three also combined for 52 points against Everett this season.

The Winterhawks’ forwards are capably supported at the blue line by three of the best offensive defensemen in the league in Derric Pouliot, Seth Jones and Troy Rutkowski. Portland also finished second in the league on the power play at 23.4 percent.

Everett, in contrast, struggled to score goals all season. Joshua Winquist led the team in scoring with 51 points (24 goals, 27 assists). That would have placed him ninth on the Winterhawks. Landon Oslanski’s big shot on the point is a valuable offensive weapon, particularly on the power play. And yet the Tips finished 19th in the league on the power play at 16.2 percent.

Advantage: Portland

Defense

While not as big a mismatch as the offense, the numbers still make rough reading for Silvertips fans. Portland allowed just 167 goals, the second-fewest in the league. Everett allowed 264, which was the sixth-most in the league.

Portland’s defense is as deep as any in the WHL. Jones is a candidate to go first overall in this year’s NHL draft, Pouliot was selected in the first round last season, Tyler Wotherspoon was selected in the second round in 2011, and Rutkowski just signed a contract with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

Everett’s defense has talent, but is young. Led by 17-year-old rookie Mirco Mueller, the Tips could have as many as five rookies taking regular shifts, depending on whether Everett deploys overager Oslanski on defense or on the wing.

Advantage: Portland

Goaltending

The numbers again skew heavily toward the Winterhawks, as Portland’s goaltenders have far better numbers than Everett’s. But much of that is a product of the team in front of them. Everett’s Austin Lotz played well during the second half of the season, and he plays an acrobatic style that makes him capable of spectacular saves. Lotz is Everett’s best chance for stealing games.

Portland has a potential issue in goal as No. 1 Mac Carruth sat out the final weekend of the regular season because of injury. However, Portland’s acting coach, Travis Green, said he expected Carruth to be ready for the start of the series, and even if Carruth isn’t available, back-up Brendan Burke went 7-0 against Everett this season.

Advantage: Even

Intangibles

Everett has one thing going for it. Although the Tips beat the Winterhawks just once in the regular season, that memory is fresh in their minds as it happened just three weeks ago. That victory let Everett know it can beat Portland.

However, all other intangibles point Portland’s way. The Winterhawks have the confidence that comes with winning the Scotty Munro Trophy for the league’s best record during the regular season. They have the knowhow, given the experience that came from fighting their way to the league championship series each of the past two years. And they’ve shown they know how to beat the Tips.

Advantage: Portland

Overall

Portland had the league’s best record, and the Winterhawks earned more than twice as many points as Everett (117-57). Everett had its breakthrough against Portland when the Tips beat the Winterhawks 4-2 at home on March 2. But that was Everett’s lone victory against Portland in 10 attempts. The talent gap is just too much for the Tips to overcome, and Everett is in grave danger of being swept out of the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year.

Prediction: Portland in four games.

More in Sports

Seahawks’ reign in the NFC West appears to be over

With Sunday’s big 42-7 win, the Rams look like the team to beat now and for the immediate future

Grading the Seahawks’ 42-7 loss to the Rams

Plenty of failing grades after the much-anticipated NFC West showdown dissolves into a beatdown

Carroll: ‘That was a really dismal performance’

Seahawks’ playoff hopes dim with a 42-7 drubbing by the Rams

Russell Wilson: ‘They beat us pretty good today’

The veteran QB suffers his most lopsided defeat since joining the Seahawks in 2012

Silvertips rout Portland 8-3, move into first place

Everett heads into the Christmas break having won 11 of its past 12 games

REFLECTIONS: Silvertips enter break first in Western Conference

It seems impossible, but the Everett Silvertips are in first place in… Continue reading

Washington men stave off Loyola Marymount 80-78

Noah Dickerson’s 13 points in the final five minutes help Washington hold on

VIDEO: Postgame reaction to the Seahawks’ loss to the Rams

Seattle coach Pete Carroll and players speak after the Seahawks’ 42-7 loss to Los Angeles.

RPI has changed way hoops coaches approach non-league games

The implementation of RPI for state-tourney seeding has local basketball coaches thinking differently.

Most Read