GDB 13.0 WRAP UP: TRAIN WRECK
Well. That just happened. No only was the Hurricanes 8 game win streak snapped, but the Kamloops Blazers did it with conviction. Before we get into Lethbridge’s game (and we will), we need to take a second to recognize the game by Kamloops. The Hurricanes deserved everything they got tonight, but Kamloops gets full credit for executing. I don’t think this Blazers team is as bad as their record indicates.
It wasn’t much fun to watch from a Lethbridge perspective, but what comes up must come down. The Hurricanes have been playing great hockey to start the season, but tonight they crashed and burned in spectacular fashion.
For a while I was beginning to wonder what it was like to watch a full blown dumpster fire of a game. But like riding a bike, it all came back by the end of the 1st period. The Canes found themselves in a hole early, and despite Estephan tieing it up, the Canes quickly found themselves down again. From that point on it was TKO by the vastly superior effort of the Kamloops Blazers.
Before I go further, lets make a few things clear. The Hurricanes were terrible tonight, but I want to make a point of saying that there is no need to panic. You never want a long winning streak to end like it did, but even top teams get blown out at times, and tonight it happened to Lethbridge. As Jeremy spoke of in tonights game day preview, it was a perfect storm. The Hurricanes were flying high (despite having been out shot for a few games now), were in the middle of a brutal road trip, and the Blazers have struggled out of the gate. If ever there was a “trap game”, this was it. I have no doubt Kisio communicated exactly that to the team – but sometimes it doesn’t matter. Tonight they laid an egg. The point is that while the Canes were brutal tonight, Im not suggesting tonight’s game is a reason to worry. On the contrary, maybe this is exactly what they team needs.
The beauty of a game like tonight’s is the team can throw it away completely. It was a blow out. No need to lose sleep over that ONE critical play or dwell on the past. The entire team was a let down tonight, and sometimes that makes it easier to accept and move forward from. Anyone who has watched more than one or two Hurricanes games this season knows that the team is much much better than they showed tonight. Let that provide some solace on what was a dreary night. Further, the Hurricanes get a chance to redeem themselves tomorrow in Kelowna rather than stew over tonight’s lackluster performance. That’s a good thing as long as they are up for a tough challenge in the Rockets. We will find out tomorrow.
- Twitter was fun throughout the game. Love interacting with everyone. If you missed out, be sure to follow and tweet with us on Twitter: @CanesDomain
- The top line scorers continued to create chances and bank points. Estephan I thought was one of the best Hurricanes tonight on both sides of the puck.
- Sittler was able to come in and play despite what I am guessing is a minor injury or illness. We will follow this closely.
- The Skeoch fight was fun to watch. He landed some big blows at the end.
- The camera work in Kamloops was pretty decent by WHL steam standards (for whatever that’s worth). I also enjoyed the play by play by John Keen. I had a good laugh when, for the second time in a row, the play by play crew of the road team got Skinner and Sittler mixed up. In both cases the Canes swapped net minders in a commercial break and the radio guys missed it.
- Despite tonight’s loss, if I had told you the Hurricanes would open their big trip at 3-1-0-0 I’m sure every Canes fan would take it (as they should). That’s exactly what they have done, and even if they go on to lose their next two, they have already accomplished the bare minimum for a “good” trip.
- Does “everything” count?
- Giveaways. Once again, the Hurricanes gave the puck away to their opposition unwarranted on more than one occasion (especially early). They have been getting away with it thanks to exceptional forechecking, but when that aspect of their game disappeared, the giveaways were magnified.
- Lethbridge looked like a team that spent the entire day bussing around the countryside. They were slow, disinterested in back checking, and worst of all, disorganized. It’s not often this season that they have gotten mixed up within their system, but tonight they were missing simple plays all over the ice. On numerous Blazers goals, the Hurricanes were simply late at getting to their man. The responsibility was on both the forwards and the defenseman (none of whom I will single out tonight), and both groups failed.
- The goaltending was suspect tonight. I will give Sittler the pass because I question his health. It stands to reason he tweaked something midway through the game in Victoria when Skinner “randomly” replaced him with a tie game. Further confirmation came tonight when Skinner let in two bad goals early. Kisio pulled him, let Sittler handle the next two minutes, then put Skinner back in net after the commercial time-out. Sittler would come back into the game later on. I will let you come to your own conclusions, but my guess is they while Sittler can play, they wanted to let him fight off whatever health issue he is working through. Skinner looked so bad they didn’t have an option but to replace him. After a few “okay” performances I was hoping Skinner had begun to find his groove, but he looked completely out of sync again tonight. Completely out of character, Stuart was fighting the puck right from the get-go. I’m not suggesting we push the panic button, but I think we all know Stu Skinner is better than his play has indicated of late. Here’s hoping he can sort it out soon. I fully believe in his abilities, but goaltenders are a different bunch. There’s no telling how serious his struggles are and how long it might take for him to find his game.
- Is there need to go on? It was a bad game. Time to move on and hope for a better performance against the top Western team, Kelowna.
THIS AND THAT
- Remember to give some credit to the Blazers. They have been beat down and drug through the mud to start the year. They have now won two really big games in a row and look poised to turn their season around. They had a few guys end up on the wrong end of dirty plays by the Hurricanes and they also blocked some big shots by Lethbridge. Even though they won handily, it wasn’t until the third the Blazers really looked comfortable to win. Those shot blocks shouldn’t go unnoticed.
- I felt the play of the game should go to Blazer netminder Connor Ingram. He robbed Estephan at the end of the 1st period (I believe. This game was a blur) with a massive glove stop. At the time the Blazers didn’t have a massive lead and a late goal by Lethbridge could have changed the complexion of the entire game. It was all for not thanks to Ingram.
In summary, tonight is just one of those games that doesn’t even deserve much attention from a Lethbridge perspective. There is little use in dissecting every little mistake and blown opportunity. The entire club was a step behind the Blazers and will need to be better if they want to rebound. Was it a trainwreck? Yes. Are there big areas of concern? Arguably yes. But in light of the fact that this squad just rattled off 8 straight wins, I think we need to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Bad games happen to every team in a 72 games schedule. Tonight was the Hurricanes first truly disastrous performance in 13 games. Any rational fan would take a game like tonight every now and again if it meant the team continued to win at the pace the Hurricanes have set thus far. Don’t get too down on tonight’s effort but let it be a reminder that the team, and the franchise in general, still has work to do. I’m sure they would agree.
Losses like tonight’s are not unheard of. To give some context, like the Canes tonight, the highly touted Wheat Kings got run out of the building by Seattle this week. The Wheat Kings are a very good team, but they didn’t execute and paid dearly for it. Let’s continue to watch as this Hurricanes team evolves and responds to losses like tonights.
Tomorrow nights game just got that much more interesting…
We are back at it again tomorrow! Check back for both a preview and review of the match up vs. Kelowna. Game time is 8pm MST.