GDB 44.0: THE DEATH OF THE WESTERN
You know how superhero movies are all the rage right now – or rather – for the last ten years or so? We’ve seen superhero movies evolve and become so much more than a man running around in tights and a cape (hello 80’s/90’s superheros). We had the Dark Knight trilogy, an epic set of films that forced us to question our own morality and the ethics of corruption for the greater good. We’ve also seen the proliferation of Marvel films from small solo flicks like the original Iron Man, to tentpole epics like The Avengers that bring together multiple characters for a two hour romp. As more and more hero movies get produced (I’m looking at you DC cinematic universe), more people are saying superhero movies will suffocate from oversaturation.
It’s the exact thing that destroyed the Western genre…
Oh, also hockey and stuff.
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I’m not done with movies, so bear with me. If you’ve paid attention to film trends for the last decade or so, you will have noticed a massive drop off in Westerns. Hollywood just doesn’t make many anymore. Why?
People just don’t want to see westerns anymore and a big part of it stems from oversaturation. In the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s, Westerns were the biggest thing going. Movies like The Good the Bad and the Ugly are considered all time greats. Film companies got greedy though, and started pumping out more and more westerns. Concerned more about dollars and less about quality, the genre declined and has yet to fully bounce back.THAT said, we’ve gotten some fantastic westerns in recent years. True Grit, Django Unchained, 3:10 to Yuma are just a handful of examples. If you want to call it a western, go see The Revenant sometime this weekend. It’s sensational.
What does that have to do with tonight’s Hurricanes game? Honestly, not much. I just wanted to rant about westerns. That said… the Hurricanes play a team from the *cringe* … WESTERN conference. The Kamloops Blazers come to town. Kamloops is sort of a cowboy – western frontier town – right? It’s close to Merritt, so guilty by association. I once hopped a freight train from Kamloops to Chase while hitchhiking home from the coast, and I felt like a cowboy, sooooo segue complete.
In what I will call a scheduling anomaly, this is the first time the Canes have faced a team from the Western Conference in weeks. Not since they hosted the Prince George Cougars on November 20th have the Hurricanes played against a Western opponent. Frankly though, I’m not sure they’ve been all that upset about it. While they’ve dominated team’s in the East, Lethbridge hasn’t fared as well against the West. They’ve lost twice to Kelowna, twice to Prince George, and once to the Blazers. Prince George and Kelowna are two of a very short list of teams that have taken two points from the Enmax this season and tonight Kamloops will look to join them in the “two wins over Lethbridge” category.
Their first meeting of the season was a low point for the Hurricanes. Lethbridge was in the midst of a brutally long Western (hah) road swing, and the Blazers laid a good early whooping on them in Kamloops. If memory serves, Lethbridge did make it interesting with some goals of their own, but they would go on to lose the game. That was way back in October, when the Hurricanes had rattled off eight wins in a row and we were still shocked by their success. Considering how much has changed in that time, we will likely see a very different game….
The Blazers got out to an exceptionally poor start to the season and have since righted the ship. Kamoops sits fourth in a very strong BC Division with 49 points and a 21-14-4-3 record., just five points short of second. Needless to say, every point is important for the Blazers right now as they try keep up with Prince George and Victoria. The Blazers are playing some pretty good hockey of late, and enter tonight’s game riding a 4-0-1-2 streak. They are finding ways to get points and will look to continue that tread against Lethbridge.
The Blazers are lead offensively by Collin Shirley. To date, Shirley has accumulated 50 points in 42 games. For a frame of reference, that ties him with Tyler Wong, despite having played one less game. Something else the Hurricanes will need to watch is the effective Blazer PK. Kamloops boasts the leagues number one penalty kill, operating at a sparkling 86%. Not only do they avoid getting scored on, but the Blazers have been able to turn penalty kills in to momentum boosts and to generate scoring chances. To illustrate this point,Gage Quinney sits third in the league in shorthanded goals (4). Unfortunately for the Blazers, Quinney is listed as week to week with a lower body injury at the moment.
Keep your eyes out for Blazers’ rookie Garrett Pilon (pictured). Pilon currently sits 14th in rookie scoring, having posted 25 points in 42 games – good numbers for a first year player. I know we here in Lethbridge have a… certain disposition to players with the last name Pilon, but I for one am interested to see him play tonight. Kamloops has some nice pieces and I’m intrigued by how they do in the stretch run. They could be a team capable of a 1st round upset over some of the heavy hitters out West.
The Canes played a machine-like game in Swift Current on Wednesday (If you want to read about it our game review is called “Terminators”) and emerged with the two points. With Lindgren, Folk, and Skeoch all out of the lineup do to injury or illness, Lethbridge needed to make some major lineup adjustments heading into that game. Thankfully, the depth they’ve proven to have helped carry them forward without issue. It seemed to me that the team didn’t skip a beat, and the new lines were generally quite effective.
Burke was reunited with Wong and Estephan and the trio looked very good all night. Burke scored another goal on a great feed from Pankewicz – great to see. Newcomer Colton Kroeker played right wing on the second line with Gutierrez and Babenko. They were effective and night and I think we will see them together once again. Jordy Bellerive centred the third line with Millette and Vandervlis on his wings. They too were good, and Ryan scored the opening goal of the game – his third of the season (and I believe, since the Christmas break…). The 4th line consisted of Davis centring Sheen and Duperreault and they did a good job with the time they were given.
We know Lindgren and Folk will be out for a while longer, but I would speculate that Skeoch and Skinner may be getting close to a return. I’m not sure it will be this weekend, but if he’s ready to go, Skinner might get the crease tomorrow against the Raiders.
Tonight I’ll be watching Giorgio Estephan closely. He was fantastic Wednesday night in Swift Current and I think we could see him push for 40+ goals before the season is done. As of today, he’s scored 23 in 43 games played and is a +20. For a guy who’s consistently put up numbers for the better part of two years, I don’t Estephan gets enough recognition. Maybe that’s partly on us, so let me just say, we love Giorgio Estephan. It’s easy to focus too much on alternate storylines, but Wong and Estephan have quietly combined for 104 points this season. When Burke skates on that line, the number grows to 168 points. 168 points through 43 games played by ONE LINE! Burke hasn’t been with them all season, but stop and think about that for a second. Once Nielsen and Gutierrez hit the 50 point plateau (probably in the next week or so), Lethbridge will have six players with 50+ points and close to 30 games remaining.
See you tonight.
GDP: The potent Hurricanes offense proves too much for Kamloops and Lethbridge takes it, 6 – 3 final.
OGDP: Since Jeremy is covering tonight’s game, I will be seen frantically wandering the halls of the lounge area in search of Winter ale and people’s leftover nacho trays. No shame – only stale nachos and soggy salsa soaked cheese.
NSOGDP: Bryce Salvador will arrive in town a week early for the celebrity dinner and lace them up. Dressed as number 3, Darian Skeoch, the former NHL’er will be wearing a full cage so as to hide his true identity. “Darian Skeoch” will score a hattrick exclusively by slap shots from the point and finish the night a +6.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
Don’t forget to check out the sponsor of all this season’s game day articles, Graham Reimer of Dominion Lending here in Lethbridge. I personally know and vouch for the amazing work he does. If you need any advice or help with a mortgage or want to look into getting one, I cannot say enough good things about Graham and the Mortgage Crusher team.
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