GDB 54.0: INTO THE FIRE
Can you hear that sizzling sound? That’s the Hurricanes playoff hopes, simmering away on the stove. While it’s not quite time to panic about the Canes giving up post-season home ice yet, the next week will be a pressure cooker for the team. With five games in eight days, and a crucial 3-games-in-3-days test over the weekend with two of those on the road against Calgary and Edmonton, it’s time to turn up the heat on the opposition.
Let’s get cooking…
This really *should* be an easy win for the Canes, who handily beat Saskatoon in their two previous matches this season, and are on a six-game winning streak against the Blades dating back to last season. Saskatoon have also been shut out three of their last seven games, so as long as the Canes can put some points on the board, it should be theirs for the taking.
However, we said the same thing about last Saturday’s game against the Kootenay Ice and look how that turned out…
The Hurricanes are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, but a meagre 1-4 in the last 5 since having their 10 game win streak snapped by the Victoria Royals on January 30. Last week’s shutout loss was extra embarrassing, coming at the hands of worst team in the league, with the Kootenay Ice sitting more than 50 (yes, five-zero, fifty) points back of Lethbridge in the standings.
But you can’t win them all, and hard-fought recent losses against league-leading teams like Victoria and Kelowna isn’t the end of the world. So with four games in five days coming up, it’s time to switch gears for the Canes to get refocused on their long term goal for the season.
With Giorgio Estephan out until at least the end of the month and Gutierrez still day-to-day, they need some depth players to step up right now. After so much success with their top lines, the bottom of the roster needs to find a way to adjust in the face of recent injury woes.
I could see the Jayden Sittler getting the start in goal tonight, as he was left holding the bag against Kootenay, even though he played a solid game. Gives him another opportunity for an easy win, as long as the guys in front of him can pot some goals. Would be a good way to build some confidence in case their back-to-back-to-back over the weekend ends up being shaky and they need to go between netminders.
Thankfully, the Saskatoon Blades are an easy start to this four-game swing, as they currently sit at 11th in the Eastern Conference and are coming off last night’s road game in Medicine Hat, who are next to them in the basement. They pummelled the Tigers 7-1 last night, so they could bring some intensity to the Enmax Centre and try to kick the Canes while they’re down.
The Blades have to slog all the way back to Brandon for a Friday night game, so they’ll want to do everything they can to avoid being down in the dumps on the bus for 12+ hours. Nothing would bring up the spirits of a bottom-feeder like the Blades quicker than beating the two best teams in their conference. Watch for them to be hungry for a win on the road, where they’ve had a bit better luck this season.
GDP: The Canes beat up on the Blades and we all eat free tacos tomorrow.
OGDP: Colton Kroeker steps up and puts some points on the board. He’s hit 10 games in with the Hurricanes after being traded from the Pats, so now’s the time to prove his worth with Gutierrez and Estephan both out.
OLGDP: At least three people say “sweet hat bro” if I wear my vintage Atlanta Flames cap to the game.
What do you think? Easy win tonight? Are the Canes heading for a slide? Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Born in Edmonton during the Oilers dynasty, my world was shattered after moving to Moose Jaw at the age of four. Made Lethbridge my adopted hometown. Somehow Canuck fan. Too much creative energy for my own good. Follow me @teestewww on Twitter and Instagram.