GDB 7.0 WRAP UP: DERELICT
In one of my favorite movies, Zoolander, Mugatu convinces Derek that he should model his new fictitious collection, “derelict”. The line is composed of garbage intended to be beautiful. It’s a satirical approach to the fashion industry and a perfect analogy for what this game was to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. It was gross. There were garbage plays made all night by both teams and at times it seemed like neither team was going to take the ball and run with it.
In the end, it was Lethbridge that managed to somehow turn a grimy, mildly-off putting, derelict effort into a win.
It doesn’t matter how much they stink, a win’s a win, and tonight the Hurricanes won.
The first ten minutes of the game were back and forth. The Pats established some good zone time but were unable to take the puck inside and generate high percentage shots. In return, the Estephan, Bellerive, Burke line was flying early. Estephan hit the post on a slapshot and moments later came up short again on a perfect cross-ice feed from Bellerive. The Canes got the first powerplay but a bad cross blue-line pass by Nielsen forced him to take a slashing penalty on a Regina breakaway.
By halfway point of the period the Canes looked the better team. While Regina had managed zone time, the Hurricanes had the majority of high percentage scoring chances. Despite doing a great job of generating scoring chances, the Hurricanes struggled to pick corners. Brown was having an easy time seeing pucks and sucking up any potential rebounds.
After losing a few shifts in a row, the Lindgren line won a defensive zone faceoff, charged into the Pats zone and scored the opening goal. Carter Folk took the puck with speed behind the Regina net and found Lindgren wide open in the slot for the one-timer. 1 – 0 Lethbridge. The goal came at the 13:51 mark of the period.
After the goal, the Pats pushed back and had the Hurricanes hemmed-in for the next sequence of shifts. While it was one of the weaker segments of the opening period for Lethbridge, thanks to the reach and effort of Justin Gutierrez, the Hurricanes would score again at the 16:32 mark. Gutierrez forced a turnover along the Pats blueline, found open ice at the top of the circle, then dished to Babenko who scored low blocker on a shot from the slot. 2 -0 Hurricanes.
Short of a few deceivingly challenging saves made my Skinner – the period was fairly uneventful following the Babenko goal.
Overall, the first period wasn’t amazing by Lethbridge but they were the better team. Regina did a good job of gaining zone time, but struggled to make anything of it. Though Lethbridge was the better team and had generated more shots and high quality scoring chances, it was far from the Hurricanes best period of the season. For every fantastic pass made, the Canes made a series of missed attempts and bad reads. Lethbridge led in shots after the first and were up 2 -0.
The Hurricanes came out strong in the second and scored on a point shot at the 16 minute mark but the referee waved off the goal due to accidental goaltender interference. It was the right call as Brown was knocked down and out of the play. Only a minute later, Justin Gutierrez took a defensive zone penalty and the Pats Adam Brooks would score from a bad angle. From where I was standing it looked like the puck was deflected in-front of Skinner. What actually happened was Skinner was falling forward and the puck deflected in off of his pad. Not a great goal.
Five minutes into the period Regina’s Aaron Mackin took a high sticking penalty. The Canes looked dangerous on the ensuing powerplay but couldn’t score. Immediately following the penalty the Hurricanes continued to buzz but Andrew Neilsen dug-in too deep in an offensive zone puck battle and was assessed a high sticking penalty. Lethbridge would get the best chance of the Pats powerplay when Millette found Gutierrez alone in the Regina slot. Brown made himself big and Gutierrez shot it right into his pads. It was a big save for the Pats at a key moment in the game.
After Brown’s big save, things started to fall apart for Lethbridge. Hobbs scored on a powerplay point shot and two and a half minutes later Brooks would get his second of the game on a broken play by the Hurricanes. Lethbridge was scuffling badly and looked really out of control for the first time all night. Regina kept pouring on the pressure and made use of speed to generate a few 3 on 2 chances but couldn’t find a fourth. At 17:09 of the period, Brady Reagan squared of with Luc Smith. It was exactly what the Hurricanes needed to wake up. They turned the tide in the final three minutes and looked dangerous but Regina held strong.
By the end of the second it was evident that neither team really had their best to bring tonight. Regina, playing in their second game in two nights, didn’t look very dangerous on their own, but the Hurricanes were spotting them chances and they were happy to capitalize. In their own right, Lethbridge looked progressively worse. The long layoff between games may have been a factor or perhaps a lack of focus, but by the end of the second period, Lethbridge just seemed “off”. They made bad passes or missed passes completely, looked static and sloppy on the powerplay, and were just generally fighting the puck. You could argue that the bounces weren’t going their way, but in truth, they just weren’t playing as refined as they had in previous games and were making things hard on themselves. The second period ended with Lethbridge up on the shot clock, 27 – 24 but down 3 – 2 to the visiting Pats.
The Canes looked a little better to start the third but still weren’t at their best. There were lots of turnovers and knee high passes, making it hard for the team to really dominate the game. Despite the mistakes, Wong scored a five on five goal off a deflected point shot from Pankewicz to tie the game 3 – 3 five minutes into the period. Even though their passing game wasn’t on-point, by moving their feet, the Hurricanes continued to generate powerplay chances. A few minutes after Wong scored to tie the game, Zablocki took a roughing penalty and the ice started to tilt in the Hurricanes favour. Moments later, Wong would score a second thanks to a fortuitous bounce off of his shinpads.
Eleven minutes into the period the Pats would answer back on an absolute beauty by Adam Brooks for the hat trick. Brooks made sure to look back at Wong on the Hurricanes bench and mimic his patented wrestling belt celly. It turned out to be somewhat ironic as Wong answered back with his own hat trick goal minutes later to put the Canes up 5 – 4. It was fun to see the two players push one another and both get a hat trick. Brooks made some beautiful plays tonight.
Just as the Pats looked to press for an equalizer they were tagged for a too many men on the ice penalty. They pulled the net regardless and Ryley Lindgren sniped an empty net goal top shelf from the top of the circles. Final score, 6 – 4 for Lethbridge. The Hurricanes also won the shots battle, 43 – 32.
- Reagan tried to pump up the team when it needed it late in the second. It was a spirited tilt with Smith. Both got some good shots in before it was broken up. I would deem it a draw.
- While not a dominant period, the Hurricanes got off to a solid start in the game and were leading 2 – 0 after the first. It’s exactly where you want to be after the first twenty. Unfortunately they took their foot off the pedal in the second and let Regina back in the game.
- Despite not being at their best, the Hurricanes found a way to win tonight. It’s been a long time since a Hurricane team has played poorly and still won a game. Was Lethbridge brutal tonight? No. But they just weren’t sharp. They looked slow and the lack of movement really hurt their puck moving capabilities.
- Tyler Wong continues to rise to the occasion. He went toe to toe with Brooks tonight and came out on top. He ended the night with three goals and no assists. When the Hurricanes needed him the most, Wong was there to carry them to victory.
- Justin Gutierrez played a really solid game. Until Tyler Wong turned the game on its end, I had Gutierrez pegged as the best Hurricane on the night. He only managed one point, an assist on the Babenko goal, but he was effective all night long.
- Andrew Nielsen found himself in penalty trouble again tonight. His first was okay to take… but it was only necessary because he turned the puck over on the powerplay. The second penalty he took was with good intentions, but he got his stick up and deserved the high sticking call. He redeemed himself with a huge clean diving poke check of a Regina breakaway on a Hurricane powerplay later in the period. I wrote last game that Nielsen had his best few games against Red Deer and Medicine Hat. Tonight was less sharp. But in his defense, the entire Hurricanes D corps weren’t great tonight. Including…
- Kord Pankewicz who had a really tough night. On multiple occasions he struggled to hold the offensive line and looked really slow on the backcheck. Kord just seemed a step behind the play tonight and continued to make bad turnovers throughout the game. To be clear, Kord has been a solid performer to this point in the season, and when he is thinking and moving quickly, he possess effective puck moving ability. Tonight however, he was behind the play and was a liability on more than one occasion. I’m sure we will see a big bounceback moving forward.
- It’s strange to say this when the Hurricanes scored six goals tonight… but their shooters really struggled to take good shots. I don’t have enough fingers on my hands to count the number of times a Hurricane shot the puck directly into Brown’s chest for an easy save. The good news was that despite their troubles, Lethbridge was generating chances all over the place. Tonight they just didn’t have the finish they have had in other games this year.
- Poor puck management. This one is related to the overall defensive breakdowns but includes the forwards. Lethbridge seemed slow with the puck for huge portions of the game, specifically the second period. There were errant passes and missed plays led all over the ice that ultimately led to numerous turnovers. The worst part was that many of the turnovers were unforced. Off the top of my head, Kennedy, Nielsen, and Pankewicz all made passes directly to Pats at one point or another under no pressure from a forechecker. Unforced turnovers are what make coaches lose their hair early, and the Canes were caught red-handed early and often tonight.
All that out of the way, the Hurricanes did what they needed to do tonight. They won. Two points looks the same whether you deserved it or not. I would struggle to say the Hurricanes didn’t deserve the win tonight, as for portions of the game, they really did look the better team. That said, from a Regina perspective, the game was their for the taking. The Hurricanes handed it to the Pats on a silver platter multiple times and Regina just couldn’t close it out.
The is no denying that the Hurricanes were playing with heart tonight. They wanted the win and didn’t mail it in despite getting down a goal in the second. Did every Cane bring their best tonight? No. But where some guys were lacking, a number of players really stepped up to fight the bounces and the bad plays to put the Canes in a position to win. The bright side here is that this year’s Hurricanes have enough depth to win on nights they play average.
That’s a good thing Lethbridge. A very good thing.