GDB 37.0 WRAP UP: DIVERSITY
“Diversity: An old old wooden ship” – Ron Burgundy
When I think of diversity – I think of balance. I think of the combination of characteristics and traits across the entire spectrum. It’s something we pride ourselves with as Canadians. Diversity is a good thing! There’s nothing more Canadian than diversity – nothing more Canadian than hockey – and nothing better than watching a well rounded hockey team do it’s thing.
Tonight the Hurricanes showed their disparity – their depth – and again skated away with a big win.
Tonight the Hurricanes were just the better team, plain and simple. They took the play to the Tigers for the majority of the night, and even when the Tigers looked ready to push back, you never really got the impression the Canes would let them back in the game. It’s not a feeling I ever thought we would get with the Hurricanes heading into the season, yet it’s exactly what I experienced tonight. They play with confidence, now more than ever, and as a fan and a follower, I can feel it as well. You don’t get the feeling the Canes will find ways to lose – they find ways to win.
Did Lethbridge get out-shot tonight? Ya. They sure did. But it really wasn’t indicative of how the game played out. The Tigers were shooting the puck from everywhere, yet getting nowhere. The Canes defenders did a good job of boxing out attackers and eliminating second chances. Stuart Skinner either sucked up most rebounds, or calmly redirected incoming shots to the corner. So yes, if you live or die by the shot clock you may have been disappointed by the Canes tonight, but you would be a fool. The Hurricanes crushed the Tigers in possession, in quality scoring chances, and in the end, they fully deserved the win.
The reason I titled tonight’s wrap up diversity, is tonight I was struck by how diverse this lineup really is. It’s pretty impressive if you think about it. Peter Anholt has assembled an extremely well balanced hockey club. Often the Hurricanes have scored goals off the rush. They have some very speedy, skilled forwards. Guys like Tyler Wong, Giorgio Estephan and Egor Babenko can all threaten with their speed. We’ve seen them streak down the wing and score goals time and time again. But that wasn’t the case tonight. Tonight we saw the other side of the Hurricanes attack – a tenacious offensive cycle. Despite the pure speed and skill of the players I mentioned, the Canes also boast players like Millette, Folk, and Lindgren who grind the opposition down. Tonight the Hurricanes were successful because they controlled the puck along the boards. They won the majority of the battles down low, and much of the credit goes to the FML line. They were sensational.
So when I speak of diversity and confidence it’s more evident than ever that they are inseparable entities. The Hurricanes can be confident in themselves because they are so diverse. They can roll the lines and adapt to their opposition on a night to night basis. It’s a character trait that served them well tonight, and will likely serve them well as the gun towards a deep playoff drive.
It was a fantastic start for the Hurricanes. Tyler Wong was able to bang home a rebound off a hard Andrew Nielsen slapshot-rebound to put Lethbridge up by 1 early in the first. The goal came on a 5 on 3 and it took the Tigers a while to find their stride after being shorthanded early. Lethbridge pushed the pace for a long stretch. They looked sharp and Brayden Burke was inches from scoring a beauty from the slot but the crossbar had other ideas.
The Canes continued to push as the period progressed and there were numerous close calls in front of Tigers netminder Schneider – but the score remained 1 – 0 until a lucky bounce off the boards gave Matt Bradley a golden chance in front. He made no mistake and fired it passed Skinner to tie things up. It looked like the period would end tied but a great rush, and an even better pass by Giorgio Estephan, set up Kord Pankewicz for his third goal of the season.
The second period began much like the first had ended. The Hurricanes carried the play, but some lucky bounces and clutch saves by Schneider kept the Tigers in the game. That was pretty much the story for the majority of the period. Lethbridge dominated and Nick Schneider held his team to within striking distance. At least, that was the case until very late when a phenomenal shift by the top line resulted in a goal. Jordy Bellerive made a fantastic play to defend the puck and shake a Tiger defender right in the slot, and while I’m sure he was disappointed to hit the post, he was likely thrilled when Estephan slid it home off the rebound.
The Tigers had some extra jump in their step to start the third period and drew an early powerplay off an Andrew Nielsen slash. The Canes would kill it off and Arvin Atwal would extend the lead on a powerplay the Canes would earn moments after killing off Nielsen’s. A few minutes later Tyler Wong would go bar down to put Lethbridge up 5 – 1 and give Taco Bell employees nightmares. With just over six minutes remaining, the Tigers found some time/space and managed to slide home a greasy goal to cut the lead by one.
- This team scores goals like they are going out of style.
- The defense was stellar all night.
- Tyler Wong is a beast and scored two more goals tonight.
- Brayden Burke makes pretty passes all the time. If pretty passes were like painting, he would be Monet.
- Brady Reagan is a boss. Guy didn’t need to drove the gloves late in the game but took on the taller Stanton. It was a good, even, and hard fought scrap.
- The Hurricanes were giftwrapped an early 5 on 3 and made no mistake. It was sloppy on the part of the Tigers and it allowed the Lethbridge to dictate the pace of place for the better part of the opening frame. Watching the Canes move the puck on the PP is a beautiful thing.
- Kord Pankewicz played a very strong game tonight. I initially noticed his gap control was on-point early in the first period, and he only got better from there. He got involved in the rush and scored a goal on the ensuing shift, blocked a shot in front of Skinner. I’ve mentioned a few times that I feel Pankewicz is underrated. Tonight was one of those nights where I felt he really showed his worth. Fantastic game.
- Speaking of fantastic, Arvin Atwal also had a strong game. He tends to play his best when on the cycle in the offensive zone, and tonight the Canes played a cycle game. It allowed Atwal to shine. He had great patience, vision, and it was a pleasure watching him do his thing. Oh… and he scored. So there’s that too.
- The Folk, Lindgren, Millette (FML) line was fantastic tonight. They were imposing themselves on the cycle and had a handful of shifts where they had the Tigers reeling for minutes at a time. They were forechecking, backchecking, and in Carter Folk’s case, “checking checking”?? He laid a few people out tonight and gave the Tigers a reason to look over their shoulder all night long. At his best Carter is an absolute force, and I felt he was at or near his best tonight.
- Stuart Skinner was really good tonight. He made some tough saves look routine and helped his defenders by directing the majority of shots he faced to the outside. Some of his biggest stops came near the end of each period, and it goes without saying that those are the moments you rely on big stops. Tonight Stu was there to make them.
- Tyler Wong was stopped on what would have been an instant classic toe-drag goal… *sigh* How dare you Schnieder. How dare you.
- I forgot to eat dinner (whoops) and found out pizza is $6.50! 6.50?!!?! What sort of cruel world is this. It’s DOMINOS!!! Common Enmax Centre. If I’m gonna pay 6.50 it better be some premium Two Guys and a Pizza Place sorta za’. Winter Ale tastes so good with their road house…. just sayin.
- Sometimes doing the right thing still results in something bad. The Tigers opening goal was the result of a lucky bounce caused by a backchecking Cane. When they say “getting the bounces”, those are the sorts of plays that come to mind.
- Coldplay. That is all.
THIS AND THAT
- Well done Lethbridge. 4,000 people on a Tuesday!?? That’s what I’m talking about. An early indication of what’s to come as the playoffs draw closer….?
- It’s kinda cool to get to see the road whites in the second half of the season. I DO wish that the WHL would reverse it though and have the dark jerseys for the second half + playoffs.
- The tunnel cam at the start of the game is pretty cool!
- To the people who tried to get a wave going… YOU ROCK! That was awesome. It didn’t take off but that’s the sort of fun attitude the Enmax needs. Don’t be discouraged. We need more of that sort of fun-going attitude, not less. *Thumbs up*
We were once again treated to a stellar game by this Hurricanes squad. It was a pleasure coming back down to the Enmax to see these players continue to develop and grow as a team. While this team has been solid since the beginning of the season, I can’t help but think they are only getting better. They have grown in confidence, in maturation, and in their abilities. It’s a team that takes the game, and winning, very seriously. Good on them. We haven’t seen that here in a while and I want to keep hammering it home. These are not your daddies Hurricanes. This group wants to win, and it wants to win right now.
Tomorrow is another huge game… as most will be from this point on… but let’s not look too far ahead. The Canes just took four points from their arch rival Tigers. That’s pretty dang cool.
Pretty dang cool indeed.