GDB 41.0: RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
“Who controls the past, controls the future…” screams Zach de la Rocha in Rage Against the Machine’s “Testify”. It’s a line de la Rocha cherry picked from George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Rage’ was a band that carved its name in music history by making brash political statements. They were loud, proud, obnoxious, and downright rock and roll. Best known for songs “Killing in the Name of” and “Bulls on Parade (guitar hero anyone?), one of RATM’s best albums was The Battle of los Angeles.
Tonight the battle’s in Red Deer, but will those that controlled the past control the future?
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By control the past of course, I’m talking about the Hurricanes total domination of the Rebels in ‘15-’16. Lethbridge has bested their Northern rivals in all three previous matchups, most recently at the tail end of grueling road trip in December. The Hurricanes have simply out performed Red Deer in all three games. For numerous reasons, Lethbridge just loves facing the Rebels. Their second meeting of the season, a hard fought Hurricanes home victory, was one of the best games of the season. These teams do not like one another and I’m not sure the fan bases feel much differently.
Sutter and his gang aren’t easy to love if you’re not a Rebel fan (or if you are). There’s a certain brash overconfidence that oozes from Canada’s 2011 national homicide capital. That said, when you’ve been as successful in the game as Sutter has, and as consistently good as the Rebel’s organization has been, you’ve earned the right… or at least sort of earned the right. Continuing our Rage Against the Machine theme, there is little more “machine-like” around the WHL than Sutter. As much disdain as I have for the Hitmen and Tigers, there’s a special joy I take from beating the Rebels. That joy is only intensified knowing they’re hosting the Memorial Cup and don’t want to get embarrassed.
All that out of the way… these Rebel’s are not the same team the Hurricanes have defeated three times. Changes have been made… of significance.
I can’t help but think the whipping that Lethbridge gave the Rebels at the Centrium on December 19th left an impression with Rebel’s brass. The absence of Spacek and Fleury to the WJHC was not a good enough excuse for a tired Lethbridge team rolling the Memorial Cup hosts. It wasn’t just a one game sample sizes either. Red Deer had been slowly drifting away from an elite level of play for a couple of weeks. Sutter’s response was dramatic, and gave bloggers and Twitter users something to talk about for days.
The Rebels traded to acquired Bruins prospect Jake deBrusk from Swift Current – giving up Lane Pederson, a 3rd rounder in ‘16, and a 1st round pick in ‘17. A couple of days later, the Rebels were back at it, trading for Adam Helewaka out of Spokane and giving up Wayatt Johnson, Eli Zummack, a 2nd round ‘16, and a 5th round ‘17. Finally, Sutter also moved Ryan Pouliot, Tanner Sidaway, Preston Kopek, a 2nd round ‘16 and a 3rd round ‘17 for injured Kootenay ice forward Luke Philp. The Rebels capped of a wild week of trading with a mental 10-0 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings, with both DeBrusk and Helewaka getting in on the scoring.
The jury is still out on whether the Rebels are capable of contending for the Memorial Cup against teams like Erie, and Rouyn-Noranda, but you can’t say they didn’t try. It’s also possible that Red Deer won’t stop there. Trade rumors have been circulating about Sutter looking for a stud netminder to replace Rylan Toth. It’s an interesting thought, because Toth currently holds down fifth in league wide goals against average with a 2.73. Are his numbers inflated due to playing on a good team, does he let in weak goals with regularity, or are the rumors nothing more than ungrounded speculation? Regardless, it will be interesting to see what comes of the Rebels and their jailbreak trade deadline moves.
The Hurricanes are coming off what can only be described as a pedestrian win over the Broncos. The effort was there, the exciting moments were there, but all in all, it wasn’t much more than a vanilla hockey game. There was no real animosity, no sense of gravity or gravitas, but the home team won. I don’t get the feeling tonight’s game with be at all like it was Wednesday against Swift Current. The Hurricanes will be pumped up and 1st place will once again be up for grabs.
It wasn’t a bold prediction, but as we anticipated, Jayden Sittler will likely get the call in goal tonight. Sittler has been sensational against the Rebels this season and it would be a crime to not put him back in goal against Red Deer. Darian Skeoch has been feeling under the weather of late and we will have to wait and see if he draws back into the lineup. Merezhko has filled in well, even managing to get involved in the offense a few times over the last two games. That said, Igor isn’t as consistent in his own zone as Darian has been, and if Skeoch ready to play, I would get him back in the lineup for what promises to be a rough affair.
After a hard collision with Babenko Wednesday night, it seems like Brayden Burke will be good to go tonight. He immediately headed down the tunnel after the play, but was back a few minutes later and took a regular shift for the remainder of the night. Burke has been a force, and his loss would be devastating. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be too serious and I anticipate he will be back in action tonight.
Aside from all that, it’s business as usual for the Hurricanes. Things are shaping up good, and I think we’re in for another mid-season classic.
THIS AND THAT
- I was again harping on the Coldplay walk out music the Canes have this season in Wednesday’s pre-game. But then, someone brought up the point that the players may have picked it. Frankly, that changes everything. If that’s the case, then I don’t care what they want to walk out to if it means they carry on their home winning pace. They could walk out to Vanessa Carlton’s “Thousand Miles” and I would still be over the moon. Godspeed Hurricanes. Godspeed.
GDP: The Rebels ride a wave of fresh confidence and defeated the Hurricanes 4-3.
OGDP: Ryan Vandervlis will come out like a house on fire and record a Gordie Howe hattrick in front of friends and family.
NSOGDP: Rylan Toth and Jayden Sittler will meet at centre for the seasons first and only goalie fight. The fight will make it onto TSN’s plays of the week and both players will later add “TV star” to their future resume’s.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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