GDB 58.0 WRAP UP: Blitzkrieg
(Photo Courtesy: Tyler Mikla)
Blitzkrieg is a German term for a ruthless and effective military strategy. It translates to “lightning war” and is a pretty accurate description of how it’s implemented. The idea is that one side attacks another with such aggression, speed, and efficiency, that their foes are left bewildered, disorganized, and worst of all, demoralized.
Calgary waged a ruthless and tactically brilliant battle tonight.
The game started with great pace. The refs weren’t too whistle happy and it allowed both coaches to cycle through their lineup a few times and settle-in. Jordy Bellerive would draw a hooking penalty halfway through the first, and with Radel Fazleev in the box, a beautiful top corner shot from Wong would open the scoring. Credit to Ryley Lindgren for a perfect screen on Hitmen netminder Nik Amundrud who had no chance.
It didn’t take long for the Hitmen to answer back. A penalty (and a somewhat weak one at that) to Cory Millette would be all Jake Bean needed to snipe a stunning short side shot past Sittler to tie things up at 1. Minutes later Malenstyn would throw a harmless looking puck across the crease and catch a lucky deflection off Brady Reagan’s foot to put the Hitmen up 2 – 1. A little over a minute later Karnaukhov would extend the lead to 3 – 1 by hacking away at Sittler’s pad with no Hurricanes in sight. The third or fourth hack did the trick.
You could see it. The Hurricanes were stunned, and when Matteo Gennaro walked right between Skeoch and Reagan off the centre ice draw and fired a fourth past Sittler, it was time for change. Skinner replaced the unfortunate Sittler (and I really mean that. No goals were his fault) and things started to get nasty. There were six fighting majors doled out in the remaining five minutes of the period, a harbinger of things to come?
Lethbridge was able to kill off the remaining penalties at the start of the 2nd, and thanks to a great screen and deflection by Ryley Lindgren, the Hurricanes would cut into the lead – 4 – 2 on the PP. From that point on, the period would tilt back and forth. Both teams had some nice looks, and both Skinner and Amundrud made some standout saves. Amundrud made two particularly nice glove saves off of both Bellerive and Nielsen to preserve the two goal advantage.
The Hurricanes spotted the Hitmen a 5 on 3 powerplay with a couple of foolish penalties at the end of the 2nd and Calgary made them pay. Skinner made a number of lights-out saves with the right pad, but Sanheim was eventually able to find the net with a great shot from the point 5 – 2.
From that point on, the game kind of just played itself out. The Hurricanes couldn’t really get much going and any potential comeback for the home team was squashed by foolish penalties. The Hurricanes would pull the goaltender with four minutes remaining and a powerplay, but Twarynski would put this one away (as if it wasn’t already) into the open cage. 6 – 2.
- Lethbridge actually got off to a good start. Both teams had some good flow early, and on their very first powerplay, Tyler Wong scored a beautiful goal to put the Canes ahead. You got the feeling they would just keep rolling but it just didn’t come to fruition.
- Down big heading into the second and short handed, Lethbridge deserved some credit for the gut check. They killed the penalty then got a goal back courtesy of Ryley Lindgren. Good response after the devastating 1st period.
- Igor Merezhko’s family made the treck to Lethbridge from the Ukraine. Pretty awesome too see. Glad they got an ovation and their son even had a chance to show off his self defense skills with a fight.
- Skinner was good in relief. Made some massive stops to at least keep things interesting. Both he and Sittler deserved better than they got tonight.
- I finally found my winter gloves. They were in my laptop man purse this entire time….
- …I own a man purse. Also, my laptop died in the final minutes and I had to run to find an outlet.
- Scoring on yourself is always a downer and that’s exactly what happened to Brady Reagan in the 1st period. It’s a common play for a defenseman. He was simply taking the his man out of the play but the centred puck hit his skate and slid perfectly into the net. It was a big goal because it came minutes after Bean’s opening marker for Calgary. Own goals destroy a team’s mojo.
- The entire second half of the 1st period. It was a full on trainwreck. If there was a blitzkrieg moment, this was it. The Hitmen scored four goals, three of which were of a completely demoralizing nature, in a span of four minutes. They then proceeded to beat the living daylights out of a couple Canes via fights and a number of very hard hits. It was the sort of beatdown sequence we havn’t really seen all season. Ouch.
- Speaking of the fights in the 1st… some might disagree with this, but both were unwise on the part of Folk and Wong. Each dropped the mitts with guys bigger than them (in Folks case, way bigger (google: Keegan Kanzig)), and both wore some haymakers as a result. I’m honestly surprised Wong returned to the game after a few of those blows. There’s a time and a place to start fighting and neither got it right.
- It’s not really fair to pick on one guy, but I really felt like the game could be summarized into Karnakhov’s goal at the side of the net. It was the game in a nutshell if you will. He got 4+ hacks into Sittler’s pads while Millette stood stone-still watching and praying for a whistle that never came. Calgary simply wanted this one more and Lethbridge watched it happen. This goal was exhibit A.
- Calgary elevated their physical game early and Lethbridge didn’t oblige until it was too late. The Canes CAN play with an edge as we saw against Tri-City, but they just didn’t come out looking to impose it. Instead, Calgary did, with brutal efficiency.
- Gennaro’s goal can’t happen off the faceoff like that. Skoech and Reagan got exposed in a hurry.
- Dumb penalties by the home team squashed any hope at a comeback.
THIS AND THAT
- Amundrud was really good tonight. Made a couple stellar glove saves on Bellerive and Nielsen. Also robbed Kroeker later in the game on a 2 on 1. Wasn’t really pushed very hard, but did what he needed to do.
- Sanheim and Bean are all that. Both the goals they scored were drop dead gorgeous shots. Bean’s in particular was a thing of beauty. These two just skate so smooth. It’s a pleasure to watch – until you realize they play for the other team and you get sad because they scored.
- 6 different goal scorers for Calgary tonight. Impressive.
- No other way to say it, the Hitmen impressed me tonight. I didn’t see the game Sunday, but on all accounts, the Hurricanes were flat out better. Well the tables were fully flipped tonight. Hitmen brought an intensity the Hurricanes were simply unable to come close to.
Oh boy. Where do we begin with this game?
First, let me say this was an exciting game. Lots of intensity, true dislike, and it simply had a certain gravitas to it. I don’t throw this term around lightly, but it was a game with a “playoff like” feel.
You could make an argument that the Hitmen won based on an exceptional four minute stretch, and in some ways, you would be right. That WAS the stretch that won them the game from a goal scoring perspective. But I think there’s more to it than that.
I feel it would be more accurate to say Calgary won this game by simply wanting it more for a full 60. Ya, it all came to a head over that short stretch, but this was a complete game by the visiting team. The Hitmen brought a level of play that Lethbridge simply was incapable of matching. They weren’t ready for the dog fight Calgary had in mind.
Where does this leave us?
Well, don’t panic. Let’s just get that out of the way. Calgary is a formidable opponent. As we dove into in our pre-game article, the Hitmen have some serious talent and it was on display tonight. This game does however need to serve as a lesson if you’re the Hurricanes. They didn’t match the physicality, didn’t get enough shots, and simply didn’t generate enough chances to have a hope.
They were the second best team on the ice.
Lethbridge has a beat up roster but, before I hear about it, throw that excuse out the window. Every team is beat up right now (You should look at the list of walking wounded up in Red Deer). If you’re on the ice, you gotta bring it, and it might not have been the team’s worst effort of the season, but it was probably their worst at home.
Right back at it Friday and Saturday. We’ll be with you all the way. Thanks again for tuning in.