GDB 62.0 WRAP UP: THE BIG SHORT
There’s a point in the Oscar nominated film The Big Short where Steve Carell’s character states, “We’re going to wait and we’re going to wait and we’re going to wait until they feel the pain, until they start to bleed.” In the film he’s referring to the major banks of America, but on this night he could have just as easily been referring to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Things were looking pretty solid through 40 minutes for the hometown boys, but the Wheat Kings were waiting and waiting and waiting, and as the 3rd period got underway they broke out in a big way over a short period of time. It hurt the Canes and they bled to the tune of a lost 2 points all while relinquishing their grasp on first place in the conference. We wrap below.
It was a pretty solid opening period to this one for the Canes. In fact, it was easily their best opening 20 in the last 10 days or so. That’s not to say that it was without issues, but the coaches and players had to be much happier with their start to this one when compared to recent forays out of the gates (think Portland and Regina in particular). The opening minutes were shaky at best as the Canes continued their recent trend of giving up odd man rushes in the game’s opening minutes. Thankfully, Sittler was equal to the task and kept this one knotted at zeroes. The Wheaties would open the scoring at the 8:32 mark when Kale Clague, fresh from the sin bin, would take a reverse pass at the offensive blue line from Reid Duke and fire an absolute howitzer by Sittler on the glove side. The Canes would draw even at 12:53 when Burke notched his 22nd of the season in the greasiest of fashions. Following an excellent play by Egor Babenko to keep the puck hemmed in the Brandon zone, Burke got the puck and sent it towards the net. It would pinball off the Wheaties defender and find the twine. Late in the period the Canes would go up 2-1 off the stick of Egor Babenko. It was a play that had the hallmarks of being a scintillating 3 on 2; however, the puck ended up rolling and flopping after hitting a few sticks. Babenko would corral the loose puck at the side of the net and flip one over a sprawled out Papirny. Was it pretty in the end? No, but they all count the same. The first would end with the Canes up 201 and shots tied 8-8.
The Wheat Kings pressed hard to find the equalizer in the opening minutes of the 2nd period. They had the Canes hemmed in deep, but Lethbridge did a good job of keeping the puck to the outside and taking away shooting lanes. No damage was done. The complexion of the middle frame changed on a crushing hit from Carter Folk deep in the Brandon zone on Duncan Campbell. Folk would get whistled for charging on the play (a suspect call after seeing the replay) but a retaliatory strike from Schael Higson would lead to some 4 on 4 hockey. The major outcome of the play was flaring tempers all over the ice, including the two benches. Coaches Kisio and McCrimmon would get into a heated exchange in the aftermath. The Canes had an excellent chance to extend their lead when former Cane Reid Duke received a double minor for high sticking. The Canes were unable to generate much over the 4 minute spell and ultimately the best chance belonged to Brandon. Tim McGauley made an excellent play to chip the puck out at the line and won the race to the puck in the Canes zone. From there he left a drop pass for a streaking John Quenneville who fired a hard wrister. Sittler was aggressive on the play and flashed the leather well out in front of his crease to preserve Lethbridge’s lead. The Canes would generate some great chances in the period’s final minutes, but Jordan Papirny was equal to the task with several excellent stops. The period would end as it began with the Canes up 2-1. The shot clock read 18-16 for the Canes after 40.
The wheels fell off for the Canes in the third. Brandon would blow this one wide open with 3 goals in just over 5 minutes. Tim McGauley would get it started by beating Sittler on the rush with a hard wrister off the post and in. 1:30 later Nolan Patrick would extend his goal scoring streak to 12 games on an odd man rush. It was play that looked like it was going to be a race for the loose puck, but Darian Skeoch lost his footing at centre ice leading to an easy play for the Wheat Kings. At the 5:41 mark John Quenneville would out muscle Millette at the Canes blue line and fire a wrister at the net that Sittler would undoubtedly like to have back. That being said, from where I was sitting, it looked Millette made a mental error by not chipping the puck out of the Canes zone when he had the chance (author’s note: my seats are on the opposite side and end of the ice from where the play happened, so I may be over simplifying the play). That would be the end of Sittler’s night as Skinner came in to replace him. From there the Wheaties really tightened up their defensive game and cruised to the win. Brandon did a great job of taking away the middle of the ice, especially Ivan Provorov who was all over the puck in the 3rd. The Canes were totally unable to get their cycle game re-established. Brandon would ice this one with an empty netter at 19:44. Make it a 5-2 final score.
- This was Egor Babenko’s best game in some time. I’m not saying he was a world beater or anything, but he did register a goal and an assist. He was noticeable on the ice and had his feet moving. Hopefully this games helps him to regain his midseason form.
- No goal in the first minute of the game for the first time in 3 home games.
- The Canes PK was quite effective against a deadly Brandon power play unit.
- The second period was good for the Canes tonight. It was pretty much the quintessential type of hockey that this club will need to play come playoff time if they want to have any success.
- The slow start to the third. While it was nice that the Canes didn’t come out of the gates slow post-anthem and ceremonial puck drop, they got caught napping in the final stanza.
- The Canes gave up several odd man rushes yet again. You can’t do that against quality teams and hope to win.
- The skate sharpening machine? The Canes were falling quite a bit tonight and it played a factor in 2 BWK goals.
- I didn’t win the trip to Vegas.
If hockey games were only 40 minutes long this would have been a pretty solid one for the Canes. Alas, that’s not the case and another slow start cost the Canes. This time round it occurred at the onset of the 3rd instead of the 1st. The Wheat Kings deserve credit for executing a sound defensive game, but the Canes need to find some depth scoring and grind out a win or two in games like this. The Canes have now lost 5 in a row overall, and 4 in a row at home (unthinkable a few short weeks ago). With that streak, so goes their grasp on top spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s too bad as the Canes played a solid playoff like game for much of the evening. Thankfully for the Canes and their fans they have a chance to erase all of that and build on the positive aspects of this game tomorrow night vs. the Oil Kings.