GDB 63.0: TOURNIQUET
Let me begin with a confession. There are some articles that are more difficult to write than others.
Sometimes it’s just hard to think of things to say or meaningful topics to touch on. You sit aimlessly staring at a blinking cursor and the words just don’t show up. It’s awful – but it’s something all writers goes through at some point.
Today is not one of those days. Today there’s lots to say and lots to be said. Lethbridge is now on a five game losing streak, and with a division rival in town tonight, let’s take a look and what we can expect.
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Last night the Hurricanes lost their fifth straight game to a very good Brandon team. I took the time to re-read Jeremy’s post game wrap up this morning and I think he did a marvelous job of putting the game into words.
Lethbridge played a pretty good game through the first 40, but as has been the case on this recent skid, there was a (short) stretch where things fell apart. That stretch cost them the game and consequently, 1st place in the conference.
It’s not hard to see that the players are frustrated. It’s in their body language. They hate losing, and while I’m sure this won’t make them feel any better about another loss, it’s actually great to see. Specifically, it’s great to see a team that genuinely hates to lose.
It hasn’t been that way in these parts for a long time. I get the feeling that this is a group of players that grew accustomed to winning and now that things haven’t been going well, they are being forced to do some serious introspection.
Cracks exist in their team game. Cracks that can be fixed, but cracks that exist none-the-less.
Those cracks can either be a good thing or a bad thing. They can work as a galvanizing force that pulls the team together and helps re-elevate their game ultimately bringing them to another level – or – they can be divisive and pull the team apart.
It’s too early to tell how serious this bump in the road really is for the club. For obvious reasons, we here are Canes Domain are fully behind the team and want nothing more than to see them succeed. I don’t think the Hurricanes have gotten this far by being frauds and I believe this team is capable of being great even without Estephan and Gutierrez in the lineup.
I’ve heard it said once or twice over the last 2-3 losses that we’ve been too critical or negative towards the team. In an act of solidarity, I want to stand behind things either I or Jeremy have said. At no point do I feel we unjustly pointed fingers at the team or at an individual.
There’s a graphic on our homepage that says “honest hockey talk”. Just as we honestly gave praise for over 100 combined game previews and reviews when the team was on fire, so to will we be honest in our analysis when they lose 5 games in a row. The day I am forced to turn a blind eye to something because it’s not easy for others to hear is the day I quit. I would no longer be able to proceed knowing the integrity of the site was compromised.
Knowing full well that we too have our ups and downs, we’re always open to criticism and ways to improve here on the site. Remember that if you don’t agree with the narrative we write for a game, there is a comments section that requires nothing more than an email address below. Not only are you welcome, but you are encouraged to share your views there regardless of how different they are from our own.
The Oil Kings enter action tonight riding a two game winning streak. They’ve just been chugging along with a 5-5-0-0 record in their last ten games. That’s kind of been the storyline for Edmonton this season. They have a 27-28-6-1 record on the year, good enough to sit in a wild card position, but not enough to seriously threaten Calgary. It’s still very much a transition season for Edmonton so I can’t imagine they are too high or low on how the season has gone.
Edmonton has actually been pretty decent at home. It’s on the road where they’ve had their struggles. With a 11-17-2-1 record away from Rexall, the Oil Kings will have to find a way to improve their road game if they want to potentially pull off a 1st round upset. That however, is still a few weeks away and I imagine for now Edmonton is simply taking things one game at a time.
Edmonton is led by Brett Pollock, Lane Bauer and Dysin Mayo. Mayo, a promising young defender, was on the radar of a few teams at the deadline but no one was willing to bite on the steep asking price. He and fellow defensemen Aaron Irving have combined for 69 points – a huge part of the Oil Kings offensive game. The Hurricanes will need to do their best to keep the pressure on these two -they are the engine that runs the offense.
Every season has its ebbs and flows. Even the best teams go through a rough patch from time to time. That’s where this Canes team sits right now. As someone who’s watched every period of this five game skid, I thought there were some positives to take out of last night. As Jeremy said, they were pretty solid for the first two periods. Papirny and Sittler were both really good in the second frame. I would argue the Hurricanes had the better of the chances in that period and I kind of felt like Papirny that was the difference maker for Brandon at that time.
He made 2-3 saves that I thought were sure goals and when the Wheaties came out and got the two quick goals in the third, you kinda just got the feeling like it wasn’t meant to be for Lethbridge.
Tonight they play a team will far less offense than Brandon, but Edmonton is no slouch. They beat the Hurricanes in their last meeting (a matinee up in Edmonton) and will be hungry to keep up their current win streak. For the Canes then, getting the first goal has to be priority. It’s not something they’ve been able to do very often on this losing stretch and it’s hurt them. Playing from behind early can force a team out of it’s rhythm and hamstring the coaching staff. On a practical and psychological level, getting the first goal would be massive for this team.
Another key to the game will be the need for the Canes to “isolate the bleeding.” What I mean by that is they have to find a way to not allow goals in bunches. Against Calgary, Portland, Regina and Brandon the Hurricanes have been lit up for 2+ goals in mere minutes of hockey. It’s a demoralizing thing to go through and it’s a big reason this losing streak has been a little more difficult to swallow than others. It’s likely the opposition is going to get a goal in a game, but it’s essential you contain it and move forward.
Another interesting storyline to watch tonight is Drayton Thunder Chief. He will be making his Hurricanes debut. Drayton was a force in training camp and was one of the later cuts. He’s know to deliver some ferocious hits and he has the potential to become a fan favorite. He is 18 and has spent this season with the AAA Hurricanes.
- I was really happy for Egor Babenko last night. I had highlighted his scoring struggles without Gutierrez, and while that may have come across as piling on, facts were facts – he was missing the big rangy center. Here’ hoping the goal can reignite the quick-shifty Russian.
- While he may have wanted one back somewhere along the line, I didn’t take issue with the goaltending last night. Jayden made some huge stops prior to the 3rd period and I felt him getting pulled was more for the sake of shaking things up than anything else. Take the Quenville goal for example. The problem stemmed with a lost puck battle along the boards – not from the net. Great individual effort by the goal scorer.
- I tweeted it out, but I noticed some nice things in Merezhko’s game last night. He posted 0’s across the board and for a quiet minute eating defenseman, I thought he did his job well.
- Almost without hesitation I would say Carter Folk has been the bright spot in this five game stretch. He bring’s it every single night and once again I thought he was one of the most impactful and engaged players on the team.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: This is where it ends. The Hurricanes play a complete game from start to finish and win 4-1.
OBVIOUS GDP: Stuart Skinner is a master of Edmonton and will get the start.
NOT SO OBVIOUS GDP: Edmonton will wear their weird black and neon green jerseys?
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.
Remember to tell him Canes Domain sent you!