GDB 3.0: ROUTINE
The start of the WHL season is always somewhat anticlimactic. After weeks of buildup, the season gets going on one of the final weekends of September, only to be put on pause the following week. I understand the first work week with no games is important. Teams begin to settle into the new season and their best players slowly return from NHL camps. All of it is important and valuable from a coaching and management perspective.
As a hockey fan however, it’s a little disappointing.
After such a rousing home ice victory last Friday, waiting nine days to watch another game must have been tough for serious Hurricane fans. People are excited! They want to see games played!
Thankfully, the Canes are back in action tonight against the Ice…
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Although I bemoan the slow first week, the Hurricanes were busy establishing routine.
Routine is important for a team staring down the barrel of seventy more hockey games in six months. Routine is a big part of establishing stability and confidence. Those of us who work daily jobs understand this. Being well planned and working within an established routine allows us to be efficient with our time and put forth a calculated effort.
Establishing a routine is just as important for young hockey players. Some of the youngest players, particularly the rookies, have had their worlds turned on end since the beginning of camp. Having a full week between games will have given the guys a chance to take a breath and settle into a new city and a new routine.
It’s a Twitter jock hockey phrase, but “feel good – play good” has to carry some weight right? Getting settled into Lethbridge and a little down time could go a long ways with building some confidence and familiarity.
In regards to tonight’s game, the Canes will look to build on their stellar effort Friday and the latter half of Saturday’s loss. Lethbridge looked good against Kootenay in their preseason games and should feel pretty good about having what it takes to beat the Ice. After losing both of their opening weekend games to the excellent Calgary Hitmen, the Ice soundly beat the Spokane Chiefs last night in Cranbrook by a score of 5-2.
There is no denying that this is a transition year for the Ice and it’s a game I expect the Hurricanes to perform well in. If the Hurricanes want to prove to fans, the opposition, and most importantly themselves, that they are turning the corner, beating a transitional team like Kootenay is a great place to start.
It will be important that the Canes come prepared to work harder than the Ice. For years now, the Hurricanes have been the lowest of the low in the WHL. They are in no place to take anyone lightly. Lethbridge is entitled to nothing, least of all a win against the Ice.
All things being equal, I think the Hurricanes are a better team and I hope for the fans sake, we see it tonight.
Projected Line Up:
I imagine we will see the top two lines stay together. Kisio was mixing things up at the end of the game against the Tigers, but it would be premature to pull the plug this early. The Canes racked up some goals against the Ice in the preseason and I don’t see why they can’t continue to do it tonight.
In the bottom six, all bets are off, but I don’t think we should expect any changes to the Bellerive, Lindgren, White line. It’s been a solid line through two games.
With the release of Ben Duperreault yesterday, the roster is more or less complete. We will likely see Franklin draw in on the fourth line. I havn’t heard anything about Sheen and maybe he get’s a shot tonight as well?
Brett Davis stood out to me by doing good things both Friday and Saturday so it will be interesting to see if he stays in the lineup.
With another week of rest will Carter Folk be ready to step into his first game?
On the back end, it will be interesting to see the direction they chose to go. The bottom four defensemen appear to be Kennedy, Merezhko, Watson, and Skeoch. We could see any of these four players in and out of the lineup until one or two of them really establish themselves as regular starters.
Regardless of tonight’s outcome, it stands to reason that we will see a different defense again tomorrow night. Kisio is still very much working to determine what he has in these players and the only way to really know is to get them in games.
I expect to see both goaltenders this weekend. I was wrong last weekend when I predicted the same thing, but I’ll go out on a limb again. I’m not sure who will start the respective games, but it just makes the most sense to split the starts.
My personal stance would be to start Skinner tonight and give Sittler the home game Sunday evening against the Rockets. Skinner got pulled a week ago and will want to get back in net as soon as possible. By starting him tonight, you give him a chance to bounce back from the ugly start in Medicine Hat. Skinner is a competitive guy, and regardless of the circumstances of last weekends first period against the Tigers, Skinner will be wanting to rebound and prove it was an anomaly.
- I’ve never understood why there is so much conversation about the state of the Hurricanes and the possibility of relocation when attendance numbers in Cranbrook are significantly worse. It’s a MUCH smaller market yes, but the Ice have been extremely competitive for over a decade and still struggle to fill the building. The Hurricanes on the other hand, have struggled to ice a competitive team for more than one or two seasons at a time. Yes, averaging around 3,000 in a city of 80,000+ is bad, but if the Canes were as successful as the Ice have been for over a decade, I think that number would be much higher. There are many more factors that play into the conversation, but at least on the surface, the league has to be closely monitoring more teams than just Lethbridge. How closely league head office watching the Canes I don’t know. It’s possible, and even likely, that for now the league has stepped back from Lethbridge and are monitoring from a distance. The point is, it stands to reason that Lethbridge isn’t as high on the priority list of “concerning” issues as some would have you believe.
- Speaking of tickets, someone I know tried to go buy three season seats this week. They were told that because a game had already been played, they would need to sort out a price to make sure the buyer wasn’t paying for games that were already over. It’s a noble gesture, it really is, except for the weekend came before the person heard back and now he still has no tickets. I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus with this story, but little things like this can really frustrate people. When someone shows up, money in hand to buy season tickets, and two days later still doesn’t have anything to show for it and hasn’t heard a response… not good. I’m sure it was just a communication breakdown and probably doesn’t deserve the attention I just gave it, but if that’s what happened, I know I would be frustrated. Maybe it was a Hurricanes office issue, maybe it was an Enmax Ticket Centre issue. I really don’t know. I want to think it’s a one-off circumstance, and it probably is, but it was a little disappointing to hear about. I’m not about sour grapes, just want to hear things running smoothly is all.
- I have once again updated the “Crystal Ball” post following the release of Ben Duperreault.
Game Day Prediction: The Hurricanes get back on track with a solid road effort and escape Cranbrook with a 3-1 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: On the second half of back to back games, the attendance in Cranbrook dips to below 2,000 prompting concerned Twitter reaction.
Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: On the road to Cranbrook, the boys politely asks to stop at the 3-93 Dairy Bar just outside of Elko, BC for delicious overpriced burgers. Kisio agrees, being somewhat of a burger connoisseur himself, but they are all disappointed to learn it’s closed for the winter season. They stop at the Cinnamon Bear on the way home to make up for it.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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