I have to admit to mixed emotions when Edmonton’s Rhett Rachinski scored 9:07 into overtime on Tuesday to square the WHL finals at 2-2.
The sports writer in me was relieved that I could make deadline with a story that included the final score.
And the hockey fan in me smiles at the idea of watching Sven Bartschi in person one more time (as far as I know, none of the local media were on the charter flight that transported both the Winterhawks and Oil Kings to Edmonton after Tuesday’s game).
The Swiss forward is pure joy to watch. If he’s not the most complete forward to ever wear a Winterhawks’ sweater, he’s one of a very few in the debate.
Since arriving in Portland in the fall of 2011, Bartschi has scored 90 WHL goals. Oh, and three NHL goals during a five-game call up this season. He has scored 11 goals in the WHL finals — in nine championship series games. Six of those goals are in this series.
— In the weird stat department, Tuesday’s overtime loss means the Winterhawks are 8-14 all time in playoff overtime games at home. Portland is 19-15 in playoff OT games on the road, including the first two games of this year’s Western Conference finals.
— With all the action in the third period, I forgot about the Tyler Wotherspoon shot that got behind Edmonton goalie Laurent Brossoit with 7:30 left. That puck sat on the ice behind the Edmonton goalie. So close for Portland, and yet … except for the first 12 minutes of the third period on Tuesday, Edmonton was clearly the better team.
— Two of Portland’s three goals were set up by defensemen — Troy Rutkowski with a great pass to spring Marcel Noebels in the second minute, and Derrick Pouliott powering toward the goal to set up Bartschi on the tying goal in the third period. Might the Winterhawks need to activate their defenseman a bit more on the attack for the rest of this series?
— At least for a day, Edmonton has the emotional edge. Much like when Portland won Game 2 without leading scorer Ty Rattie, Edmonton won on Tuesday without Henrik Samuelsson, who was suspended for one game for a double minor penalty in Game 3.
— One reason Edmonton controlled long stretches of the game: Except for the third period, the Oil Kings were better on faceoffs. More on this significant statistic on Thursday in your Columbian sports section.