GDB 5.0: REBELS
If it wasn’t abundantly clear before now, I love Star Wars. Ignoring the prequel trilogy, I think Star Wars is one of the greatest motion picture trilogies ever conceived. Whenever I think of “rebels”, I think of the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting for freedom against the evil galactic empire. Think of Ben Kenobi, the citizens of Alderan, and of course, the Bothans. So many Bothans… But of course, the most important and influential of the Rebels was Admiral Ackbar of, “It’s a trap!” fame.
Last night the Hurricanes played the Kelowna Rockets, and their defense, in the words of the great Ackbar, “…couldn’t repel fire power of that magnitude.” (I’ll stop now… I promise) Tonight they face another powerhouse team, the 2016 Memorial Cup host Red Deer Rebels.
Preview after the jump….
Preview Brought to You by:
Star Wars fun out of the way, tonight is an important game for the Hurricanes. It seems an overstatement to declare games in October “important”, but considering what the team has gone through in recent years, keeping the ledger above .500 would go a long way in maintaining early season optimism. Through four games, Lethbridge has shown it has the skill to hang with some of the best teams in the league. The Canes have also shown determination, charging back in both of their losses to make things interesting. While there have been some really bad moments, they remain just that. Moments. Through four games, the Hurricanes have competed well and given themselves a chance to win each night.
The majority of really bad moments have so far been isolated to circumstances of the Hurricanes own flawed design. Turnovers, missed passes, undisciplined penalties, and bad defensive reads have reared their ugly heads, but not as often as seasons passed. Thus far at least, bad plays have been the exception, not the norm. The defensive lapses the Hurricanes have shown a tendency to make, were on full display against the Rockets. It’s not that there were no mistakes made in their two wins, but that top-tier teams (like Kelowna) almost always capitalize. The best teams only need you to make one mistake and against the Rockets the Hurricanes made several.
The Canes will need to pay more attention to the details tonight if they want to beat the red-hot Rebels.
Are they capable? From what I’ve seen so far, I think they are. Tyler Wong was adamant in his post-game interview that he believed the Hurricanes were better than the Rocket’s for much of last night, and I happen to agree.
The Hurricanes are pretty good… but are they good enough to beat Red Deer tonight?
What They’re Saying:
The WHL has a growing grass-roots blogging community. One such blogger is Paul Figler of Red Deer. Paul recently set out on his own to cover the Rebels over at http://figlerfiles.blogspot.ca/ Paul has been really supportive of my efforts with Canes Domain and growing the online WHL community through writing and social media and I wanted to give him a chance to say a few things about the Rebels from a Red Deer perspective. I also wrote a little something for Paul heading into tonights game. You can find it now on his site.
Without further ado, here is Paul’s short pregame summary for Hurricane readers.
Red Deer will look to continue its winning streak (4-0) against a much improved Lethbridge Hurricanes team. Red Deer was 4-1-0-1 vs. Lethbridge last season and will attempt to maintain that level of compete. This will be a good test for both teams as Red Deer will be playing just its second road game of the season. Lethbridge would like to see how they stack up against the Memorial Cup hosts.
The last of the NHL training camp attendees have been returned to Red Deer, Haydn Fleury is expected to play in tonight’s contest. The team will be without draft eligible Josh Mahura, who is expected to be out of the lineup for 5-6 months following knee surgery.
The Rebels have to be pleased with the offense thus far. Import players, Michael Spacek and Ivan Nikolishin, are in the top 7 in WHL scoring and Colton Bobyk is 4th among defensemen. The “D” is a little bit of a concern as there are a few players who do not have a lot of experience playing in the WHL as well as a few shifts taken by Wyatt Johnson on the back end.
Goaltending has been solid as Rylan Toth has held the reigns through the first 4 games. I would expect that Trevor Martin may see some time between the pipes tonight, possibly as the starter.
Be sure to check out Paul’s site after the game to catch some thoughts from the opposition perspective.
Projected Line Up:
Trying to pin down the forwards this early in the season has been difficult. Again, I don’t expect changes in the top three lines, but the fourth line continues to change. I expect to see Burke and Vandervlis with one of either Davis or Sheen. I don’t really see any of the Hurricanes forward lines as a traditional 4th line. When I look at the lines above I can’t help but notice the balance. Each line has guys that can score, hit, and make a play. It’s a pretty solid and youthful group of forwards from top to bottom.
I think it’s only a matter of time before Lindgren, Vandervlis and Burke start scoring some goals. Based on the first few games, it seems the Hurricanes will be able to roll the lines and have no problem getting some secondary scoring.
I’m not entirely sure that the Ex-Presidents pairing will be back together tonight, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s no secret they struggled mightily against the Rockets on Sunday evening, but I would be happy to see them get another chance. If they struggle again then you may need to look at different options, but they should be given the benefit of the doubt for now. Reagan is a much better player than he showed Sunday and we all deserve to get a chance to bounce back from time to time. I’ll be rooting for him. The Hurricanes really need a third pairing that can eat up some minutes without being a liability. They didn’t get it Sunday, but it’s still early.
The Atwal-Pankewicz pairing looked pretty solid on Sunday and I don’t think they will get split up. Nice job by Pankewicz to find the seam to Gutierrez on the second period powerplay as well.
It was revealed tonight at the AGM that Watson is working through a concussion right now. It was also noted that Ethan King was dealing with an injury just prior to Canes training camp and wasn’t able to compete at the level he had hoped. It may be he gets a call up at some point.
I expect Merezhko to draw back in tonight, likely replacing Skeoch from Sunday’s lineup.
Poor Stuart Skinner. He looked stellar in the home opener, and were it not for an ill-advised penalty (I think by Justin Gutierrez) late in the third, he may well have opened the season with a shutout. Unfortunately he didn’t, and has been pulled in back to back starts since. While Skinner has been shelled for eight goals in the last two games, the vast majority came via powerplays or odd-man rushes. Has Skinner taken the team on his back yet? No. But he shouldn’t have to. When the game was still in limbo Skinner made some big saves Sunday and I have no doubt he is going to find his groove. He’s been fighting the puck a little and struggling with some rebound control, but that will come around.
I would start him again tonight as a sign of good faith. Despite getting pulled in two losing causes, Skinner wasn’t the reason for either loss, and like Reagan, should get another shot at starting tonight.
This and That:
- I mentioned a season ticket situation in Friday’s game preview. A person I know had gone down to the ticket centre, money in hand, and tried to buy three season seats. He was told they would get back to him, then heard nothing back a few days later. Well, the reason I passed the story along was I was a bit perplexed by the situation. Surely it was just a mistake. A communication issue. I transmitted the problem, so it’s only fair I also pass on that the team called him Sunday before the game and sorted it all out. Credit to the Hurricanes/ticket office for dealing with it quickly. He now has his tickets. Smiles all around.
- Zane Franklin was reassigned to AAA today. Franklin was a training camp standout, but hadn’t been able to translate his play to the regular season and was struggling to get in the lineup. Zane has an elite level shot but isn’t a big guy. He will push to be a regular next year, but for now, he is better served playing top minutes in AAA than eight minutes a night in Lethbridge. Anholt said as much tonight at the AGM.
- There will still need to be a move made on the backend once Watson is healthy. Merezhko has been splitting time with Skeoch and Kennedy and Watson’s return will only muddy the waters further.
- I wasn’t at the AGM and I’m not planning to write about the business side of the team anytime soon. It’s not that I don’t care about it. I am fascinated by it in truth. Remember that my position is as simple as wanting to see Lethbridge succeed as a market. I wrote early and often about the ownership and managerial side of the Hurricanes when this site first launched. Ever since the vote to keep the team community owned was passed, I made a decision to limit the business talk here on Canes Domain to the off-season. Time is already precious enough covering the on-ice product. I want to ensure anything posted on this site maintains the highest quality possible for the time I have available. If you have thoughts on the AGM or the direction of the team, please share in the comments section of the articles here on the site. I would love to chat about it. Just don’t expect a big business plan review… at least not until the spring/summer.
Game Day Prediction: The Hurricanes get back to a game over .500 with a big win over the Rebels. Final score 4-2.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Lethbridge will continue to have an effective powerplay, going 2/5 on the man advantage.
Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: One of the new Rebel euro’s will mistake the Enmax Centre for the Enmax Centrium and show up hours late thinking he had a home game. Sutter will make him shovel cattle pens for a month.
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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