WHL Power Rankings – Week 2: Portland in the Basement


Like I said last week, the Winterhawks defense is going to be the biggest issue this season. That didn’t change over the weekend as they lost all three games. They gave up a combined 16 goals. Yes, 16 goals in three games. It is impossible to win games when you give up more than five goals a game.

I thought that when they returned a couple players this weekend from NHL training camps that the transition defense would improve, but looks like it still needs a lot of work. Part of the problem is the penalty minutes. Portland is averaging 25 PIM a game. That shows they are undisciplined under new coach Jamie Kompon. Being undisciplined also shows with the lack of communication between the blue lines where they have proven to be very weak. With a countless number of odd-man rushes given up, it’s actually surprising they have only given up 26 goals on the year.

It is hard to say a game is a “must-win” this early in the season, but with rival Seattle coming back to the Moda Center this Friday, I think it could make or break the season.

I still expect Portland to turn this around and not be in the basement of the power rankings next week.

Checkout where the Winterhawks fell in Week 2’s WHL Power Rankings:

[table colwidth=”8%|18%|8%|8%|8%|50%” colalign=”center|center|center|center|center|left” rowlalign=”center”]

1,Brandon Wheat Kings,4-0,—,1,”Brandon Wheat Kings~~Another weekend of domination keeps them at the top. They have outscored their opponents by 13 goals in only four games. The Wheat Kings are playing every bit like the preseason favorites they were.”
2,Kelowna Rockets,3-0,—,2,”Kelowna Rockets~~The Rockets look to be the team to beat in the Western Conference. Not only does their offense look good scoring 21 goals in five games, but they also have only allowed five on the defensive side.”
3,Edmonton Oil Kings,3-0,—,3,”Edmonton Oil Kings~~Two weeks into the season and the defending champs continue that momentum having won every game so far. It is no surprise that these guys are undefeated and they will be a factor at the end of the season.”
4,Everett Silvertips,3-0,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+1,5,”Everett Silvertips~~The Silvertips absolutely took it to the Winterhawks this weekend scoring 11 goals in two games. Before giving up 4 goals on Sunday, the Silvertips had only squandered one goal in previous two games. This defensive unit will keep them in many games even if the puck isn’t going in.”
5,Spokane Chiefs,2-0,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+2,7,”Spokane Chiefs~~Have only played two games in this young season but have won both of them against Western Conference foe Tri-City. They seem to be getting good play from six different players have scored for them in two games.”
6,Vancouver Giants,3-0,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+2,8,”Vancouver Giants~~Showed tremendous grit scoring three times in the last ten minutes to complete a comeback against Victoria. Did not look good for most of the game but found a way to keep their record unblemished in this young season.”
7,Prince Albert Raiders,2-1,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-1,6,”Prince Albert Raiders~~It was a rough loss for the Raiders this weekend as they had a one goal lead with five minutes to go before squandering a late penalty shot to tie and the game winner two minutes later. Still one of ten teams with a winning record.”
8,Swift Current Broncos,2-2,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-4,4,”Swift Current Broncos~~They lost both games this weekend but that was to Brandon and Edmonton so it must be looked at with a grain of salt. They got a lot of shots off on Saturday night but just couldn’t seem to get the puck in the back of the net. Once they start lighting the lamp a little bit more, expect them to be just fine.”
9,Medicine Hat Tigers,3-1,—,9,”Medicine Hat Tigers~~They went 1-1 this weekend with the one loss coming against Edmonton. One thing that is going to have to change going forward is the offensive output from players not named Cole Sanford. He has been involved on 8 out of the 13 goals this season for the Tigers.”
10,Red Deer Rebels,2-1,—,10,”Red Deer Rebels~~Won the only game they played this weekend 7-1. While 7-1 proves that the team hit on all cylinders, it was against Kootenay who haven’t exactly proven to be title contenders this year. If the Rebels can continue to score like this, expect a big jump in the rankings next week.”
11,Kamloops Blazers,2-1-1,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+3,14,”Kamloops Blazers~~With a potential four points up for grabs this weekend, the Blazers managed to secure three of them with an OT loss on Saturday night. The problem was, that loss was to a team they should have beat (and did 8-2 the night before), but nonetheless, it’s still a point and has them fourth in the Western Conference.”
12,Regina Pats,2-2,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+6,18,”Regina Pats~~It couldn’t have been a better weekend for the Pats as they beat an inferior team on Friday 7-1, and them take down a tough Prince Albert team on Saturday. Two wins allowed the Pats to make the biggest jump in the Rankings this week. It will be interesting to see if this momentum continues next week against the Raiders again.”
13,Tri-City Americans,2-2,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-3,10,”Tri-City Americans~~A mediocre weekend for the Americans. They get a win on Friday against Seattle, before dropping a close one to the undefeated Chiefs. Only allowing an average of two goals a game will allow them to stay in most games this year and even sneak out a few they might not deserve.”
14,Seattle Thunderbirds,1-2,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-3,11,”Seattle Thunderbirds~~Having only played one game this weekend, they did not take advantage. The lack of offense is going to be a huge problem for the Thunderbirds this season. The WHL is always notorious for high scoring games, and five goals (four in one game against Portland) scored after three games is not going to win many games.”
15,Calgary Hitmen,1-2,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+1,16,”Calgary Hitmen~~The Hitmen went 1-1 this weekend with an astounding 9-2 victory over the Hurricanes. That is three times as many goals as they have in their other two games combined. I think the Hitmen are going to be a “feast or famine” type of team this year.”
16,Kootenay Ice,1-2,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-4,12,”Kootenay Ice~~It was not a good weekend at home for Kootenay. They got beat bad 7-1. They have yet to play a game on home ice though, so we will have to see if this is a bad team or just a bad start to the season.”
17,Moose Jaw Warriors,1-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+3,20,”Moose Jaw Warriors~~After starting the season 0-2, they managed to find their first win this weekend. Yeah it was against one of the worst teams in the league, but still a win is a win. They have an all-star caliber player in Brayden Point and he will need to carry this team if they want to make any noise.”
18,Prince George Cougars,1-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-3,15,”Prince George Cougars~~They lost both games they played this weekend. From looking at this team, they seem to be undisciplined. The Cougars are averaging almost 40 penalty minutes a game. Just think about that for a second, there are only 60 minutes in a hockey game. Yeah, playing shorthanded all the time is not a great strategy.”
19,Victoria Royals,1-4,—,19,”Victoria Royals~~They did find a way to win their first game of the season this weekend, but also dropped two other games. They had a lead into the third period against Vancouver before giving up a couple cheap goals. If they want to jump up the standings, the goaltenders are going to need to be more consistent.”
20,Lethbridge Hurricanes,0-3,[icon name=icon-arrow-up]+2,22,”Lethbridge Hurricanes~~Really any of these bottom three teams can be interchanged. Lethbridge is lucky enough to move up in the rankings this week because they only played on game this week. Yeah, it was a 9-2 demolition but 0-3 is better than 0-4. I do not expect much improvement going forward though.”
21,Saskatoon Blades,0-4,—,21,”Saskatoon Blades~~They were bad last year, and from the looks of it, they are bad this year. Things got so bad, they decided to start a WHL rookie in goal on Saturday. As you can imagine, it didn’t go as planned as he was yanked before the end of the game.”
22,Portland Winter Hawks,0-5,[icon name=icon-arrow-down]-5,17,”Portland Winterhawks~~Not sure where to start with Portland. They are the only team with five losses and have not even looked like they had a chance to win any of those five games.”


Ryan Boshoven
Ryan is a former Division 1 athlete now working in the world of sport marketing. He earned his Master's Degree in Sports Business. He likes to spend his free time playing golf and going to sporting events. Ryan also has two brothers that are the same age as him. "Being a triplet is pretty awesome!" he says.