Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ryan Callahan Swiss Style

What a difference a bus ride can make it seems as for the Portland Winterhawks. A 6 hour ride somehow did some major wonders as returning to the Rose Garden for Game 5 wiped away the horrors of Game 4.

Portland despite giving up yet another goal in the game's first minute was able to come from behind to earn not only a 3-2 win but now a 3-2 series lead. For the Winterhawks the story was once again the trio of players who we so truly believe will all be first round picks come the 2011 NHL Draft.

The best was without a doubt Sven Bartschi who registered points on all 3 Portland goals but it was his defensive plays (note plays not just a single play) that had us thinking here was Ryan Callahan Swiss Style. The game's first star without any doubt was just so good in this game that it hid another quiet night from Nino Niederreiter.

From scoring the game tying goal at 19:27 of the 2nd period which took a ton out of the Spokane momentum to his back to back to back defensive plays late in the 3rd period which helped preserve a badly needed Portland win. Once upon a time European born players were knocked for their lack of grit but not Bartschi.

Most mock drafts have Bartschi going from 10-15 but if Portland goes on to play for the WHL championships and even the Memorial Cup then watch Bartschi push his way into the Top ten.

Bartschi's linemate Ty Rattie was almost as good as Rattie had a goal and an assist while going +3 for the game. Rattie had a couple of quiet games during the Spokane portion stepped up his play by scoring Portland's 2nd goal.

Rattie is one of those types of players who does nothing with flash but if you do not pay attention will sneak up on you. His 5-9-14 in 15 playoff games is helping his cause as we doubt he lasts to the 20's like many mock drafts have.

It would not break our hearts in the least if at 15 the Rangers grabbed Rattie as he really is a John Tortorella player. If Tortorella saw Rattie in action we believe he would fall in love as Rattie is everything Tortorella wants out of a Ranger these days (and btw he is a right wing no less)

Our favorite Winterhawk at the moment is defenseman Joe Morrow as when Portland lost their captain Brent Ponich to a season ending ACL tear, it was Morrow who stepped up his game.

Morrow is one who we think when they hold the NHL combines will move himself into the teens. Smart, dependable and with a point shot that is just too accurate to be true.

Morrow is a lot like Rattie, nothing fancy but when you need a play made he will make it. Against Spokane, he was strong in the slot preventing Chief players from getting clear shots off rebounds and ensuring that his goalie was not being screened.

We would kill if any of the Ranger defensemen had Morrow's point shot as Morrow is going to be someone's power play specialist in a hurry.

As the series shifts back to Spokane for a possible elimination game let us hope that Portland brings along Nino Niederreiter as he really has been quiet the last 3 games. Some of the credit does belong to the Chiefs but we can not help wondering if Nino is playing hurt.

At one point during game 2 of this series we watched Niederreiter come back to his bench clutching a part of his body (sorry while we are sure Spokane knows this already why help them?). It did not seem serious at the time but if he is hurt it would explain his play.


More than anything else what we would just love to get an explanation from the WHL about is how does Spokane go from 9 and 10 power plays in game's 3 and 4 to just 2 total in Game 5.  Portland did not do much to change their game or attack but the inconsistency of the calls is glaring.

In game's 1 and 2 in Portland Spokane was awarded 6 total power plays, during game's 3 and 4 in Spokane a total of 19. Return to Portland for game 5 and Spokane just has 2 which is begging for an answer as to why the huge difference?

As the shifts back to Spokane for an elimination game for the Chiefs will the monstrous disparity in the number of power plays return too? We hope not as games as important as this one badly needs to be decided by the players not the whistles.

(Images: Portland Winterhawks) 

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