GDB 16.0: HOMECOMING
It feels like ages ago the Hurricanes played their last home game. To jog your memory, it was exactly two weeks ago that the Canes defeated the Bronco’s in a thrilling 3 on 3 overtime decision at the Enmax. Much has happened since that time. The Canes pulled out six of a possible twelve points on the trip, Patrick Chan, Canada’s sweetheart, infuse magic into the Enmax ice, and I dropped my cell phone in a toilet. Exciting stuff to say the least.
To say there are many looking forward to heading down to the rink for tonight’s game would be an understatement. Two weeks is a long time for a newly energized fan base and I anticipate two solid crowds for this weekend’s set of games.
Call it a homecoming.
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Tonight the Canes faceoff against the Seattle Thunderbirds. It’s the first time they have played a team from the US division this season. It’s been well over a year since the T-birds last paid visit to Lethbridge and I expect there will be an interested fan base. Not only because Seattle boasts one of the league’s marquee players in Matthew Barzal, but also because former Hurricanes captain Jamal Watson is back in town. Watson, in what turned out to be quite the surprise, was traded to Seattle by GM Anholt. In return the Hurricanes received winger Corey Millette (O/A) and a fifth round pick in the 2016 bantam draft.
The move was met with mixed reviews from fans and media alike. Watson was a long time Hurricane in a period where the Canes did more losing than ever before. He was captain, and boasts explosive speed. Fans liked Jamal and I’m not sure many saw him being traded. Anholt didn’t mince his words. He felt that the downside of Jamal’s game was a lack of hockey sense, and while Millette wouldn’t bring anything close to Watson’s speed, he would be a better “fit” for the organization.
To this point in the season, Watson has played 9 games, recorded 5 pts, and sits at +1. Millette, on a vastly improved Hurricanes team, sits at 10 pts and -3 in 15 gp.
The Thunderbirds currently sit third in the Western Conference with 19 pts. Like the Hurricanes, Seattle has also played 15 games. The two teams appear quite evenly matched based on early season returns. Seattle sits with a +15 goal differential, Lethbridge is at +16. Lethbridge has scored more goals (64 vs. 54) but has also allowed more (48 vs. 39). Those of us who watched the recent road trip will know the Hurricanes numbers took a huge dip in the final three games again Kamloops, Kelowna, and Prince George. In the final few games of the trip the Hurricanes were close to averaging two goals against per period. As always, numbers only tell part of the story
Seattle is the cream of the crop in the US Division and the Hurricanes will have their hands full. I expect a high flying affair with lots of action. Seattle is on the tail end of a long road trip, but they had yesterday off and will surely still have some jump in their step.
THIS AND THAT:
- The Canes need to tighten their game up following a harsh road trip. Credit them for coming out .500 but now is a key time to refine their game. Their overall team defense took a massive drop in the later half of the trip. They will need to rectify it if they want to snap their current three game skid.
- There is no line-up section today because I don’t have a clue what may have changed since their last game (Monday night). Your guess is as good as mine coming off four days of rest.
- The Hurricanes have missed Bellerive. Having Jordy on the top line making nice feeds and crashing bodies gave the coaching staff more options on moving Burke around the lineup. When Bellerive gets back, it will really benefit the Canes.
- I am curious to see which goaltender they elect to go with tonight. As I already mentioned, the Hurricanes got shelled in their last three games and both netminders were put in a tough position. Neither was able to get a win and I’m not leaning one way or another on who will start tonight. We will have to wait and see. Regardless, I imagine both netminders will get a start this weekend with back to backs.
- Eking out a win tonight would be massive. The Hurricanes play the struggling Ice tomorrow night and beating the T-birds would put them in a great position for a productive weekend.
GDP: Fully rested and fired up to get winning, the Hurricanes jump to an early lead and don’t look back. 4 – 2 Lethbridge final.
OGDP: The Hurricanes will either have put together a Jamal Watson video montage or publically recognize him at some point in tonight’s game. He will get a friendly ovation from Canes fans.
NSOGDP: Unbenounced to anyone on staff, Patrick Chan planted a lock of his magical figure skating hair at centre ice during Skate Canada this week. Much like the lucky loonie, the Hurricanes win inexplicably go on a magical home winning streak thanks to Patrick.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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