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  • 23 Oct 2014

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Winterhawk Notes

Portland's defense and power play have left something to be desired through the first seven games of the Western Hockey League season.

Some stats, comparing the Hawks with last year's team as they prepare for Saturday's 7 p.m. game against Kamloops at Moda Center:

Record: 3-3-0-1 current, 4-3-0-0 after seven games in 2012-13

Shots allowed per game: 37.5 this season, 26.5 in first seven games of 2012-13

Goals allowed: 32 this season, 18 in first seven games last season

Power play: 8 for 51 (17.5 percent), 6 for 38 (15.8 percent) after seven games a year ago, but Hawks finished 2012-13 at 23.4 percent (second in WHL)

Coach Mike Johnston's assessment: "We're scoring enough goals most nights, but we're giving up too many shots, too many scoring chances. And our power play, even though we're scoring, has been very inconsistent."

The Hawks are 3 of 43 on power plays since opening night, and that includes their 0-for-15 total in 6-2, 6-3 road losses last weekend to Kelowna.

Johnston says the Hawks will get better in all areas, including defense. "We will for sure," he says. "We've got a lot of new defensemen, guys playing different minutes, different roles, so it's going to take an adjustment period."

Absences and injuries are a factor. The Hawks just got D-man Derrick Pouliot back last weekend, after his time in NHL camp. D-man Shane McColgan remains out through this weekend, Johnston says, with an injury. The forward line has missed players, too, including Paul Bittner (broken hand), who is not expected back for a few more weeks.

A

nd the opposition has been credible. "Our division is really strong," Johnston says, "and Kelowna is maybe the favorite in our conference."