GDB 38.0: BAND OF BROTHERS
A dusting of snow descends from the sky and blankets the Ardennes region of Belgium in a white blanket. Its soft beauty serves as a temporary distraction for the men of Easy Company in the masterful HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. However, the explosion of artillery shells quickly shatters the artificial façade created by the wonders of nature. As the Hurricanes travel north up Highway 2 their view will largely consist of a picturesque scene that typifies the prairies in early winter, but explosions are inevitable as the boys enter into a 2 game set with divisional rivals the Calgary Hitmen. Buckle up Canes fans, we might be in for a war.
In Band of Brothers the men of Easy Company stood resolute against a seemingly unending onslaught from German forces, but with heavy reliance on the man next to them the likes of Captain Winters and Sergeant Lipton were able to survive and emerge victorious in a decisive battle. While there are clearly no real parallels that can be drawn between war and hockey, the narrative of this set of episodes, based upon actual events, proves apt for this point in the Hurricanes season.
It seems odd that this will only be the second time these two teams have matched up this season despite being past the halfway point. However, the stakes couldn’t be higher as this home and home set versus the Hitmen is easily the biggest pair of games that the boys have played all year. As assistant coach Josh MacNevin stated last night in his postgame interview with Canes play-by-play voice Dustin Forbes, these are essentially 4 point games. While playoffs are still quite a ways off, tonight’s game (as well as the return match up at the ENMAX Centre on the 2nd) could have serious implications on the final standings. With that in mind you know both teams will be leaving everything they have on the ice.
The last time the Canes played the Hitmen was a raucous back and forth affair that ultimately saw the Hurricanes come out with a hard fought 6-4 victory. It was a highly physical game that featured both teams holding leads and a 3rd period parade to the penalty box. It truly was a rock-em, sock-em contest that had the fans in attendance on the edges of their seats all game long. It’s highly likely that these 2 games will follow a similar path.
Things are going to be different this time around the Hitmen as they will have 2 key pieces out of the lineup due to the ongoing WJHC in Helsinki. Stalwart D-man Travis Sanheim and highly skilled forward Radel Fazleev are both off representing their countries in pursuit of U-20 gold. That being said the Hitmen are still big, strong, and skilled. While the loss of those 2 players is considerable, the Hitmen did recently get skilled forward Jackson Houck back into the lineup. Houck has averaged a point per game when healthy, and along with the likes Jordy Stallard and Jakob Stukel, leads a group of forwards that is more than capable of filling the net. The Hitmen’s defence will be led by likely NHL lottery pick Jake Bean who, simply put, has been phenomenal this year. He leads all WHL defenceman with 14 goals and currently sits third in D-man points with 35 in 37 games. The Hitmen will likely try to be physical with the Canes and initiate offence from their blue line tonight. I’m guessing that their coaching staff will preach discipline as the Canes PP was the difference on December 2nd.
I don’t think I need to say all that much about the Canes at this point of the season. We’ve all had ample opportunity to witness what makes them successful night in and night out. Like the men of Easy Company in the Ardennes, this will need to be a full-team effort if the boys want to leave Cow Town with 2 very valuable points in the Central Division standings. Hopefully, they will be able to repeat last night’s effort versus the Tabbies where all lines and D pairings were very effective and able to roll all night long. Lethbridge will likely have to weather an early storm by the Hitmen as that is typical in road games, but if they can do that successfully then the Canes will be in good position to win tonight.
GDP: This one is going to be a war of attrition, unfortunately a more rested Hitmen team eeks out a 6-4 win with an empty-netter.
OGDP: The Canes PP continues to give the opposition fits accounting for at least one Hurricane goal.
NSOGDP: In the battle for the WHL heavyweight belt, Kanzig vs. Skeoch part 2. (I don’t know if it’s obvious or not, but I had to make mention of it somewhere).
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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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.