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Winterhawks vs. Silvertips – what to watch

by: JAIME VALDEZ Cory Gillas of Vancouver and Kelly Ericsen of Forest Grove (lower right) celebrate after a Winterhawks scored a goal against Spokane last week at the Rose Garden.

WHL playoff schedule (all home games at Rose Garden): at Portland, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 26; at Portland, 5 p.m. Sunday, March 27; at Everett, 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30; at Everett, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 31; at Portland, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2 (if necessary); at Everett, 7 p.m. Monday, April 4 (if necessary); at Portland, 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 6 (if necessary)

Home tickets: Available at ticketmaster.com, Rose Quarter box office or by calling 503-236-HAWK

Playoff history: Everett beat Portland in seven games in 2005

Team records: Portland 50-19-0-3, 103 points (first in U.S. Division); Everett 28-33-7-4, 67 points (fourth U.S.)

Leading scorers: Portland - Ryan Johansen (40 goals-52 assists-92 points), Craig Cunningham (27-60-87), Sven Bartschi (34-51-85), Ty Rattie (28-51-79), Nino Niederreiter (41-29-70); Everett - Tyler Maxwell (41-25-66), Ryan Harrison (21-31-52), Ryan Murray (6-40-46), Parker Stanfield (13-21-34), Josh Birkholz (18-11-29)

Goalies: Portland - Mac Carruth (31-13-0-1, 3.08 goals against, .913 save percentage), Keith Hamilton (17-6-0-2, 2.91, .914); Everett - Kent Simpson (21-20-5-4, 2.78, .916), Luke Siemens (7-13-2-0, 3.03, .917)

Head-to-head: Portland won the season series 9-1, shootout and overtime wins included, losing only 2-0 Feb. 25 at Everett - Simpson getting the shutout - and outscoring Silvertips 35-22. ... Johansen (6-8-14), Niederreiter (5-3-8), Cunningham (2-6-8), Rattie (1-7-8), Bartschi (5-2-7), Ross (2-5-7) led Portland; Carruth (5-0-0-0, 2.39, .912) and Hamilton (4-1-0-0, 2.02, .936) were stellar. ... Murray (1-7-8), Chad Suer (0-5-5), Maxwell (4-0-4) and Simpson (1-4-1-1, 2.82, .924) led Everett.

Other stats: Portland was 8-2-0-0 in its past 10 games, Everett 1-7-2-0. ... Everett was 16-14-4-2 at home, Portland 24-11-0-1. ... Portland had 303 goals, Everett 172 (WHL's second fewest); The Hawks allowed 227 goals to Everett's 218. ... Everett power-play was the league's worst at 14.2 percent. ... Portland was 24-0-2-1 when leading after one period, 32-0-0-0 when up after two. ... Portland was 18-4-0-3 in one-goal games, Everett 14-2-7-4.

Hawks defense: With such a high-octane offense and depth, the Hawks will have to get solid play from their team defense and goalies. "We have phenomenal defensemen on our team. Huge depth," D-man Joe Morrow says. "Defense is not really a concern. I'm VERY confident we can stop the puck from being put in the net. If everyone's giving it their all, we shouldn't have a problem." The Hawks take calculated chances on offense. Adds defenseman Troy Rutkowski: "It's not so much taking chances as just reading the play and picking your spots when it's safe to go up ice. The forwards will fill in (defensively) for you. It's not a risk."

This and that: "They're more of a defensive-type team," Rutkowski says, of Everett. "They work off the rush, trying to get their chances. We gotta limit our turnovers, that'll be the key. And work the puck down into our deep cycle, which has been good the past 30 games." ... Adds Portland coach Mike Johnston: "You can't try to open the game up until you make sure you're very good defensively against them. They try to capitalize and play a 2-1 game. We have to play a steady game against them." ... Carruth (groin) was slowed during the stretch run. "Our offense has been outstanding for the last stretch," Johansen says, "and once we get Mac back in our net, that'll be huge for us." ... Defenseman William Wrenn, a midseason defensive acquisition, has a plus-25 rating in 29 games. ... Bartschi led WHL rookies in points. ... Bartschi (sixth), Rattie (11th), Morrow (16th) and Tyler Wotherspoon (33rd) had high ratings in recent Central Scouting Bureau rankings of top North American skaters for NHL entry draft. "Playoffs is what it boils down to," says Morrow, of draft possibilities. "Having that in the back of my head, to be a potential first-round draft pick, really pushes me. You give 100 percent in the playoffs to prove that you're going to be that guy who really stands out." ... Everett's Simpson (sprained ankle) and center Landon Ferraro (groin) had recent injuries; Ferraro, a second-round Detroit pick, is the son of former Winterhawk Ray Ferraro.