Everett Silvertips’ Andrew Petruk (26) fights for the puck during a game against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on March 24 in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Everett Silvertips’ Andrew Petruk (26) fights for the puck during a game against the Tri-City Americans at the Angel of the Winds Arena on March 24 in Everett. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Breaking down the Silvertips’ 1st-round playoff series vs. the Giants

Everett is searching for a revenge after a shocking playoff exit against Vancouver two years ago.

The last time the Everett Silvertips and Vancouver Giants met in the WHL playoffs was one of the lowest moments in Tips franchise history.

In the first round of the 2022 playoffs, Everett was the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed and a huge favorite over eight-seeded Vancouver. The Tips finished a whopping 47 points ahead of the Giants in the standings and were expected to stroll into the second round.

However, a rash of injuries and suspensions decimated Everett, and Vancouver pulled off the unlikeliest of upsets in winning the best-of-seven series 4-2. Based on regular-season point differential it was the biggest playoff upset in WHL history.

It may have been a moment of disappointment, but it was not a moment the Tips intend to forget.

”We’re excited,” Everett co-captain Austin Roest said. “Obviously we remember what they did to us the last time we played them, so it’s kind of a revenge tour for us.”

The third-seeded Tips are once again favored over the sixth-seeded Giants when their first-round series begins Friday night at Angel of the Winds Arena, and again Everett (45-18-2-3, 95 points) finished comfortably ahead of Vancouver (32-32-4-0) in the standings. But no one’s expecting a cakewalk this time.

Here’s how the Tips and Giants match up:

Scoring goals

Goals: Everett 295 (4.3 per game), Vancouver 219 (3.2)

Power play: Everett 26.6% (fifth in WHL), Vancouver 20.7% (16th)

This is the best offensive team in Everett’s 22-year history. The Tips set a single-season record for goals scored by 15, have three big-time offensive weapons in 19-year-old forwards Ben Hemmerling (30 goals, 61 assists), Dominik Rymon (34 goals, 47 assists) and Roest (38 goals, 33 assists), have plenty of secondary scoring options — though overage forward Teague Patton is expected to remain out with an upper-body injury — and multiple defensemen who are capable of stepping into the play. During the four-game season series, won 3-1 by Everett, the Tips averaged 44 shots on goal.

This Vancouver team doesn’t have the same kind of elite offensive firepower that the 2022 edition had, as the Giants have no players who averaged a point per game. What Vancouver does have, however, is depth up front, with seven forwards averaging at least 0.73 points per contest. Vancouver also has the highest-profile player in the series in 19-year-old forward Samuel Honzek (10 goals, 21 assist in 33 games), who is a first-round NHL draft pick.

Advantage: Everett

Preventing goals

Goals allowed: Everett 205 (3.0), Vancouver 249 (3.7)

Penalty kill: Everett 73.5% (17th), Vancouver 78.4% (seventh)

Everett’s defense is predicated on shot suppression. The Tips finished fourth in the league in fewest shots allowed per game at 28.5. In contrast, Vancouver tied for last in the league in shots allowed at 36.3. That alone is a huge advantage for Everett. Everett’s defensemen are solid from one to six, though without a superstar, so the Tips won’t have to worry about fatigue from a shortened bench.

Both teams will be handing the reins to an overager in goal. Everett’s Tyler Palmer had the advantage in goals against average (2.57-3.10) during the regular season, but Vancouver’s Brett Mirwald had the advantage in save percentage (.913-.907). While both are overagers, both are inexperienced under the bright lights as Palmer has just five games of playoff experience and Mirwald two.

If Everett has an Achilles’ heel it’s the penalty kill. The Tips started the season struggling on the kill and were never able to fix it.

Advantage: Everett

Intangibles

The big elephant in the room is Dennis Williams. Everett’s head coach was announced as the new head coach for Bowling Green State University just two days before the start of the playoffs. Williams will coach the Tips through the postseason, but will his attention be divided?

Vancouver also plays a style that’s difficult for Everett to match up against. The Giants are big, play a heavy game and are willing to muck it up. The Tips are a smaller team that likes to get up and down the ice. If the Giants can turn it into a grinding series, it will negate many of Everett’s advantages.

The Tips enter the postseason with more momentum. Everett hasn’t lost a game in regulation in six weeks. Vancouver had a nice bump after picking up a couple impact players at the January trade deadline. But the Giants faded late, and Vancouver hasn’t beaten a playoff team since Feb. 19.

And of course there’s the shadow cast by the 2022 upset. That may be a motivating factor for the Everett players who played in that series, but it also provides hope for an underdog Giants team that knows it can knock off a highly favored Tips squad.

Advantage: Vancouver

Overall

On paper this should be an easy Everett victory. However, there are so many storylines that could affect the outcome that no series result would be a surprise. So much depends on how the players respond to their coach announcing his departure on the eve of the playoffs. But Everett is fresh, having had a light schedule in March, and the Tips have a strong veteran core that should be able to carry the team into the second round.

Prediction: Everett in seven games

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