GDB 29.0: RUN THE JULES
“A dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.” – Jules Winnfield
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When the Hurricanes laid an egg last night against the Raiders – I was of two opinions. On one hand, it was frustrating and they simply didn’t show enough desperation. Prince Albert wanted it more and it showed. On the other hand, I felt (and feel) the team has earned a pass. The Hurricanes have played so well at home this season, that I was okay with last night’s game. We’ve seen the true personality of this club. They work hard, score goals, and play with desperation. Even though we didn’t see it last night, this dog’s got a good personality, and as Jules mentioned, personality goes a long way.
This week’s games were extraordinarily interconnected. The Hurricanes beat the Hitmen – the Hitmen demolished the Raiders the next night, and the Raiders responded last night by beating the Canes’. Tonight, things don’t get any easier. The Eastern Conference leading (and Memorial Cup hosting) Red Deer Rebels are in town for the second time this season. It also happens to be teddy bear toss night… if the Canes were going to be shutout this weekend, last night was the night to do it.
This teams’ got personality… but which will we see tonight?
The Red Deer Rebels are shaping up nicely as a Memorial Cup host. They currently sit at the top of the Eastern Conference and are riding a three game winning streak. It took one of the Canes best efforts of the season to narrowly beat the Rebels a few weeks ago and it will take the same and more again tonight. Red Deer has some elite players on its side, but the Rebel’s real strength is overall depth. The Rebels are deep, big, and built to win now. There are a few key Rebel’s for the Hurricanes and their fans to keep eyes on tonight.
Ivan Nikolishin is a powerplay specialist. He leads the league in powerplay points with 21. He also sits 6th in overall points (league wide) with 40 pts in 27 games. In addition to Nikolishin, Lethbridge will need to shut down Colton Bobyk. Bobyk has given the Rebels a scoring touch from the blueline. Colton has scored 8 goals to this point in the season – good for third in the league amongst defensemen. It goes without saying that the Canes will also need to target Carolina Hurricanes top prospect Haydn Fleury. Fleury is a well-rounded defensemen and is going to make a strong case to be on Canada’s world jr. team this month. I’m excited to watch him tonight. Much has been made of his ability and the Hurricanes will be a strong test.
There has been some conversation around the league about the Rebels potentially wanting to shore up their netminding before the trade deadline. While it hasn’t always been phenomenal, Rylan Toth has put together some decent numbers as the season has progressed. He sits just behind Jayden Sittler with a 2.61 GAA – good for 8th in the league. Putting his advanced numbers aside, Toth has simply gotten the job done when it comes to winning. He sits 3rd among league leaders in wins at 14.
The Rebels have gotten some great value from rookie Michael Spacek. Spacek is neck and neck with Hurricanes rookie Egor Babenko in rookie assists. Spacek has 19, Egor has 18. Finding impact import players is never easy, and it appears both the Canes and Rebels have hit the jackpot with their import additions.
The Hurricanes are going to need to be better tonight. I understand that is a hollow statement – but it’s true. Lethbridge got caught napping early last night and spent the rest of the game trying to catch-up. The execution just wasn’t there. With a talented team in the building, a better start will be essential. The teddy bear toss only adds to the complexity of the game. It will be important for the Canes to get a goal before the halfway mark of the game. Coming off a shutout to the Raiders, the danger becomes that players start trying too hard to get the goal. It’s a natural reaction, but one that the team will need to avoid. Last night Lethbridge let the Raiders dictate the play. Tonight they will need to force their play on the Rebels.
Neither the forwards nor defense was particularly great against the Raiders. Prince Albert neutralized the Hurricanes attack by standing up at their blue-line. It forced the Hurricanes to dump and chase – but the Raiders were better in the corners. Prince Albert also collapsed with great effect. The Hurricanes couldn’t seem to get good contact on any second or third opportunities. They will need to bear down tonight if they want to score against the Rebels. Red Deer has a big, talented defensive core and Sutter will have them playing with formidable structure.
THIS AND THAT
Andrew Nielsen is 4th among skaters for most minor penalties with 23. It’s been an element of his game that hasn’t gone away. Unfortunately Andrew often takes sloppy penalties – primarily hooking, interference, and tripping. While the penalties haven’t seemed to go away, there’s no denying that Andrew has been an offensive catalyst for the Canes. He currently sits 4th among defensemen with 27 points in 28 games. That puts Andrew in with high profile names like Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, Brycen Martin, and Haydn Fleury. Consistency has been elusive for the talented defender. When he’s “on”, he is one of the best players on the ice. When he has a tough night, last night against PA included, Andrew’s game takes a pretty sharp decline. If he can build more consistency into his game, it would really elevate his status as a top flight defenseman.
Darian Skeoch played a really great game last night. I was impressed with how he stood the Raiders up at the Canes blueline. I believe we are seeing Darian improve each and every game. He’s been a great story this season. He flew in under the radar and wrestled a roster spot away from more proven players. Huge credit to him for establishing himself as a player and a force to be reckoned with. Darian leads the league in penalty minutes amongst rookies with 39 in 24 games played.
It would be my assumption that Jayden Sittler will get the start in goal tonight. Sittler is a Red Deer native and has already beaten the Rebels once at home this season. Sittler has had a great season but is coming off one of his less stellar performances of the season Wednesday versus Calgary. He was pulled in the second period after surrendering a soft goal. I didn’t think we was playing too poorly before the goal, but none the less, he will be looking to bounce back. Sittler has very good numbers at this point in the year. His GAA sits 6th among goaltenders league wide at 2.49.
The big question is who will score the golden goal? Who will make it rain teddy bears?? My bet is on the slippy Russian – Babenko. Egor Babenko has been a force this season. He is tied for the lead with Moose Jaw rookie Noah Gregor in rookie scoring. Both boast the exact same stat line, 14 – 8 – 32 in 28 games played. Egor seems to be growing more comfortable as each game passes and I wouldn’t be surprised if his production ramps up in the second half of the season. Grabbing Egor with their top five CHL import draft pick was brilliant on Anholt and the Canes management team.
I really liked Ryan Vandervlis’ game last night. He created some nice scoring chances and I really felt it was one of his best games all season. It will be interesting to see if the coaches saw the same or if Brett Davis will draw back into the lineup tonight…
GDP: The Hurricanes come prepared and beat the Rebels on home once again. Final score 4 – 2
OGDP: Egor Babenko will score the teddy bear goal in the first ten minutes of the first period.
NSOGDP: Someone won’t have saran wrap to cover their bear with and will elect for tinfoil instead #bachelorlifestyle
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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