GDB 28.0: THE BATTLEFIELD
“Been on the battlefield for a long, long time.” So sings Tre Williams for the hook in one of my all-time favourite hip hop tunes, “The Battlefield” by Ghostface Killah (*Disclaimer* – this song features NSFW lyrics). This week will likely amount to a war of attrition for the Hurricanes as the best of the best in the Eastern Conference are coming to town to battle it out with a resurgent Lethbridge squad. When the smoke clears will the Canes once again successfully defend their home front and remain as one of the power brokers in the Eastern Conference?
Only time will tell.
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So far, so good for the Canes as they fought hard, both figuratively and literally, in securing a somewhat sloppy 6-4 victory over a blistering hot Calgary Hitmen team on Wednesday night. Now the Canes will need to build on the positives from that game as the East Division leading Prince Albert Raiders invade the ENMAX Centre tonight. This should be a very evenly matched contest as the Canes currently sit with a record of 18-9-0-0 (36 points) and the Raiders sit at 16-8-2-1 (35 points) with each team having played 27 games. This is the first meeting of the season between these 2 squads. Expect PA to be hungry coming into this one as they took it on the chin last night in Calgary, losing 6-1. So far this season the Raiders have been quite successful on the road boasting an impressive .625 winning percentage. Contrast that with the Canes having the second-best home winning percentage in the league (.857) and you have the makings of an intense battle tonight.
PA has some pretty dynamic offensive players in their lineup. Upfront they are led by Reid Gardner who is currently tied with Brayden Burke (and SC Bronco F Jon Martin) for 6th in league scoring with 39 points. Wingers Simon Stransky and Austin Glover are also putting up at least point per game through the first 27 contests of the season. On the back end the Raiders have one of the highest scoring defenders in the league in Jesse Lees. The overage defender has amassed 25 points thus far making him the 6th highest scoring d-man in the Dub. These four players provide the lion’s share of the offence for the Raiders, so preventing them from clicking will be a key for the Canes to emerge victorious in tonight’s battle.
The official Raiders preview for tonight’s game: (Link)
The Prince Albert Raiders (16-8-2-1) will aim to get back in the win column on Friday night as they take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes (18-9-0-0) for the first time this season. On Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Raiders found themselves in a hole early as they allowed a pair of goals in the opening seven minutes. The Calgary Hitmen would go on to score two goals in each period, earning a 6-1 victory. Kolten Olynek, acquired from the Spokane Chiefs on Sunday, scored the team’s lone goal in his Raider debut.
This season the Raiders and Hurricanes are among the most improved teams in the WHL. Through 27 games this season, Prince Albert holds a 16-8-2-1 record. At the 27-game mark last year, the Raiders were 13-14-0-0. They would eventually finish with a 31-37-2-2 record. The Hurricanes currently rank second in the Central Division and hold an 18-9-0-0 record. Those 18 wins are only two off the team’s total from 2014-15 when Lethbridge completed the season with a 20-44-5-3 record.
Depth will need to be the name of the game upfront tonight for Lethbridge. Recently the Canes have seen a wealth of production from all of the top 3 lines. If this trend continues the odds are good that the Canes will add another W on home ice as they are the fresher team in this one. Lethbridge will need to keep the tempo up, and roll all 4 lines, in an effort to wear down the Raiders who are playing on back-to-back nights. Using that depth, keep getting pucks deep, and skating PA into the ground should be the recipe tonight.
The Canes will need to tighten up their defensive game in order to secure another 2 points against a top Eastern Conference team. They were some serious lapses versus the Hitmen that cannot be repeated tonight if the Canes hope to be successful. The defensive zone passing was often sloppy and risky on Wednesday night leading to turnovers and ugly goals against. That’s playing with fire and the Canes are lucky that they didn’t get burned. Look for the Canes to simplify their approach and make the easy pass, or use the boards more often, tonight versus PA. Lethbridge cannot afford to attempt to skate the puck through forecheckers, or fire blind back hand passes, inside their own end if they want to continue their early season success.
THIS AND THAT
- Who will get the start in net tonight? It’s a complete guess, but if forced to make a prediction I would say that Sittler gets the nod looking to bounce back after getting pulled on Wednesday.
- The Hockey Writer’s website has published a translation of an interview (link) that Canes import F Egor Babenko did with a Russian sports website. It’s well worth checking out. After reading it I’m pushing for the nick name Fedor-enko from this point on.
GDP: The Canes have been brilliant on home ice. A larger crowd (here’s hoping at any rate) will help amp the Canes up and they come out on top 5-2.
OGDP: Darian Skeoch challenges a Raider to drop the gloves, but after hearing about his bout versus the behemoth Keegan Kanzig his invitation is rebuffed with much enthusiasm.
NSOGDP: Taco Bell corporate headquarters sends a team of investigators to the ENMAX Centre to determine the origins of the deluge of free food in southern Alberta.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
Don’t forget to check out the sponsor of all this season’s game day articles, Graham Reimer of Dominion Lending here in Lethbridge. I personally know and vouch for the amazing work he does. If you need any advice or help with a mortgage or want to look into getting one, I cannot say enough good things about Graham and the Mortgage Crusher team.
Remember to tell him Canes Domain sent you!
Professional student, prospective teacher. Red Wings/Blue Jays/49ers super-fan. Proud general manager of Team Mono and the Slumlords in a pair of fantasy hockey keeper leagues. Is there anything better than soup and sandwich? Twitter: @jsvsakamoto.