GDB 14.0: BOUNCE BACK?
Tonight the Hurricanes will look to rebound from a 7 – 3 whipping at the hands of the Kamloops Blazers. Needless to say the Hurricanes will need a much better effort tonight if they want to get back in the win column. Unfortunately for Lethbridge, the Rocket’s aren’t exactly an easy group to play against. Kelowna is once again a powerhouse in the West and have already beat Lethbridge once this season.
What should we look for tonight and will the Hurricanes be able to bounce back?
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Before I go further, I want to apologize that tonight’s GDP is up so late. As I mentioned on Twitter, I dropped my cell in the toilet late last night….. ya. It was about as awesome as it sounds. I spent the better half of today getting that situation sorted out and I’m happy to say Im back up and running! No new phone or repairs needed. Just some patience, computer know how, and rice. So today we’re up later than normal and the preview will be shorter than I prefer.
Better late than never I guess.
As we saw a few weeks back, the Rockets are a dangerous team. They can generate some serious attacks from the neutral zone with their speed. In Lethbridge, it proved to be the difference as the Rockets scored a fleury of goals on the rush. Stuart Skinner was chased from the crease that night, and the Hurricanes fought back to make things interesting. They ultimately fell short, but I believe that game was huge in building the mental strength of this team. The Hurricanes actually out played the Rockets for long stretches that night, and I think we all began to see that this club could hang with the best.
Since that time, the Hurricanes have rattled off a massive 8 game winning streak and vaulted themselves into the WHL’s top tier. With the streak ending last night, what will we see for the Hurricanes tonight? On one hand, they are coming to the end of a long Western road trip, played last night, and will likely be tired. On the other, they got embarrassed last night, feel confident they can beat Kelowna, and might be fired up to rebound. Which Hurricanes team will we see tonight?
Last night Lethbridge got away from the game play early. They got involved in a wide-open, back and forth style game with a well rested Blazers team. A night later, I don’t expect the Canes to have much of an extra jump in their stride, especially not late in the game. That means they will need to jump out to an early lead and play a more efficient game. Kelowna will eat the Hurricanes alive if Lethbridge doesn’t try to play a smarter road game. Ideally, the Hurricanes should be looking to clog up the neutral zone and rely on counter attacks and the powerplay to generate offense. Entering into a North-South speed game with the Rockets is a sure-fire way to get blown out once again.
Of course, the offense won’t matter much if Lethbridge can’t play solid defense and get a few saves. Stuart Skinner was fighting the puck badly last night and his team did little to help him out. Forwards were late back, and defenseman were out of position on multiple occasions. For his part, Skinner allowed two or three weak goals and will be looking to rebound. We need to remember that Stuart Skinner is still only 16. There is no reason to pile unneeded pressure and expectation on him so early into his WHL career. He didn’t start exceptionally well last year either, but came into his own later in the year. Did he look good last night? No. Something looks off in his game right now. I would caution everyone to avoid reading too far into it for the time being. Let’s see how things go for the next five or six games and then reevaluate.
Tonight I will be looking to a few players to come back with strong efforts including Arvin Atwal, Kord Pankewicz, Corey Millette, and Ryely Lindgren. Like I said last night. The Hurricanes have been horrible when it comes to turning the puck over this season. They have been able to get away with it because, until recent games, their forecheck and backcheck has been incredible. The last few games I’ve noticed the Hurricanes are no longer the first team on pucks and haven’t been winning all the battles on the boards. When the Hurricanes have been at their best, they’ve done both of those things.
Is tonight the night they get back on track or is that asking too much given the circumstances? Asking a tired team to pull out a win in Kelowna on the second half of back to backs may be getting greedy, but we ask it none the less.
Game Day Prediction: The Hurricanes come back with a better effort tonight, but fall short against a very good Rockets team. Final score 5-2 Kelowna.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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