GDB 71.0: THE WIRE
(Photo Credit: Medicine Hat News – Charles Lefebre)
In the early 2000’s there was an HBO show called The Wire. In my humble opinion, it’s the greatest TV show in the history of television. It did what so many shows set out to do and fail. The Wire, through exploring the drug underworld of urban Baltimore Maryland, gave us the most heart wrenching, realistic, and guttural American social commentary ever.
Nothing was off limits to the producers. Over it’s five season run, The Wire set it’s sights on gangs, law enforcement, the justice system, the political system, unions, school systems, the media, and more. The Wire was so successful at bridging it’s immensely deep and interwoven story, message, and character arcs, that in 2010 Harvard taught it as a class. This is a show that every mature adult should take the time to watch.
There’s a plot line in the later seasons that involves two heavyweight drug lords wrestling for control of their family drug empire. Without spoiling the show, just know that the moves they make don’t necessarily pan out the way they had planned. Their power struggle opens the door for a younger, more desperate group to make its way to the big time.
More after the hop…
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Tonight the Hurricanes are the heavyweight. They are one of the big dogs wrestling with the other big dog (Red Deer) for supremacy of the Central. They’ve already clinched the playoffs as well as home ice. Things are good if you’re Lethbridge.
On the other side of the ice, the Medicine Hat Tigers are hungry – desperate – to complete their miraculous drive for the playoffs. The Tigers have been behind the playoff eight-ball all season but come into tonight’s game with a shot at making the post season. I should add that at this point is much more than just a ‘shot’. The Edmonton Oil Kings, thanks to a 4-1 loss at the hands of Red Deer last night, have left the door wide open and tonight it’s there for the taking. All the Tigers need to do it beat Lethbridge. Of course, with Red Deer winning last night, that also leaves the Hurricanes in jeopardy of losing 1st in the Central Division.
It’s all come down to the wire. The final home game of the regular season.
Kind of strange to think about isn’t it? For years now the final home game was a dark, somber march to the Enmax. It was an exercise in self-inflicted pain knowing that the game meant nothing and that the off-season would once again be riddled with vitriol and the gnashing of teeth.
Not tonight. Tonight hope-springs eternal. This isn’t a funeral. It isn’t a ‘we’l see you next fall Hurricanes’ (nice double entendre though).
Tonight is a celebration. A celebration of this teams’ accomplishments both on and off the ice. We might not be out of the woods yet, and there’s still much of the story left to write come the playoffs, but tonight we can cheer, dance, scream, yell and otherwise enjoy ourselves knowing that the team is sprinting to “fan appreciation night” – not dragging it’s battered, bleeding, lifeless corpse across the line.
Regardless of the turnout, when that final buzzer sounds and the team gathers around centre ice to salute you, can we make a point to celebrate them in return? I’ve been critical on nights and I’ve heaped praise on others -but stepping aside from viewing the team in a one-game vacuum (72 times) – these guys deserve a seriously loud ovation for their entire body of work. This is a defining season. A season that has put the team back on the tracks.
Let these players know you appreciate that.
I know I will be.
The Medicine Hat Tigers let a game versus Kootenay slip through there hands not long ago. When I saw that they lost I had all but written them off. Of course, the Oil Kings proceeded to do the exact same thing shortly after and the race for the final Eastern Conference Wild Card position carried on. With their 4-1 loss to Red Deer last night, the Oil Kings are flirting with disaster. Their once comfortable lead has dwindled to two points. The Tigers own the tie-breaker AND have a game in hand on Edmonton. The only thing standing between Medicine Hat and the playoffs is the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
If the Tigers win both games, they’re in. If they lose tonight… things get more complicated.
The point here is simply that there is a hell of a lot on the line tonight for Medicine Hat. They’ve been on the outside looking in since they got off to a slow start in the Fall. The Tigers only recently started looking like a team that could eke into the playoffs and with two games remaining, they now control their own destiny.
The last time these two clubs met was back on December 29th. It was a home game for the Hurricanes and they did what they’ve done (mostly) all season – win. The Tigers were simply out gunned by a Lethbridge team in it’s prime. The Hurricanes were playing some of their best hockey of the season after Christmas and, at least on that occasion, the Tigers wound up on the wrong side. Bradley and Butcher had the goals for Medicine Hat (they would ultimately fall 5-2) and both will once again be called upon to help the Tigers cause tonight.
For his part, Chad Butcher has been very good for the Tigers down the stretch. The 20 year old Kamloops native was rewarded with WHL “Player of the Week” honors on Monday and for good reason. He earned the accolades by recording 10 points in a four game stretch – a stretch that saw the Tigers go 3-1-0-0 to remain in the hunt. He’s the hot hand in Medicine Hat at the moment and the Hurricanes will need to key in on him if they want to silence the Tigers offense.
Medicine Hat has been heating up at just the right time. They’ve posted a 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 games and are riding a one game winning streak. The Tigers, like Lethbridge, last played on Sunday. Unlike Lethbridge, Medicine Hat won their game, handing the Hitmen a 4-3 regulation loss. Matt Bradley scored the game winner in the 3rd period and Medicine Hat rode it out for the win.
- Look for Schneider to get the call in net
- Watch for Texan Max Gerlach. He’s 11th amongst rookie scorers and has has some success vs Lethbridge this season.
- Keep your eyes on defenseman David Quennevill as well. He runs the Tigers offense from the blueline and sits 10th among points scored for defensemen.
- The Oil Kings have the night off so the Tigers could hold sole possession of a playoff birth with a win. If they lose or only get a point, it will ALL come down to Saturday night when both they and Edmonton are playing.
That’s all the Hurricanes need to sew up the regular season division championship. Sure they will need to go through the hungriest team in the whole league to get it… but it’s just one point. How hard can it be?
Famous last words? I guess we will find out. Lethbridge is coming off Sunday’s home loss to the equally desperate Edmonton Oil Kings and while it wasn’t a terrible game, Lethbridge will need to be better tonight if they want to seal the deal. Make no mistake. Clinching the division tonight is important. It would allow the Hurricanes to go into tomorrows contest in Medicine Hat with clear minds and no pressure. Say what you want about the Hitmen, but from where I sit, it’s a team I would desperately want to avoid if I were the Canes.
It’s not that Lethbridge can’t beat Calgary in seven games – I believe they can. It’s as much about the structure of that series as anything. The WHL announced yesterday that whoever plays in the Calgary series will be forced to open with a triple header next weekend. Further, games 4 and 6 (if needed), will be played in the Corral. It’s a brutal situation for a 1st round playoff series and it’s one I really hope the Hurricanes can avoid.
Lethbridge has been successful against Medicine Hat thus far into the season. They boast a 4-1-0-0 record against their highway 3 rivals (the only loss coming in the second game of the season). Allot has changed since their last meeting. I’m not entirely sure what to expect out of this Tigers club. They aren’t big but they are fast, and the offense has been coming-on of late.
Here’s a few quick thoughts heading into tonight’s game.
- If the Rebels had lost last night I might have suggested the Canes may consider resting a guy or two – not anymore.
- Tarzwell? Thunder? Addison? My bet is we see Addison tonight on home ice (with last change) and one or two of the others in Medicine Hat (depending on tonight’s results of course).
- Skeoch has been on the sidelines of late. Could we see him tonight?
- I anticipate Stuart Skinner starts tonight and wouldn’t be surprised if he starts again tomorrow if they lose. There’s six days between Saturday and the start of the playoffs. If the division is on the line, don’t be surprised…
- I was looking through Wong’s numbers yesterday and felt compelled to make a graphic. He’s had an incredible year. Doubling your production in your 19 year old season? We’l take it.
- I asked what people thought about attendance dipping in the 1st round as it has historically. Is that what we should expect? Some people replied and said yes. Others said no. One person pointed specifically at the Easter weekend and the Southern Alberta “Bible belt” playing a factor. What do you think?
- I’m headed to the final game in MH tomorrow. Cruisining in a minivan with the Canes Domain crew. For those that have been there already, anything specific worth trying in the new building??
- If you havn’t yet, head over and check out our Playoff Bracket LIVE BLOG. It’s got a bracket that’s updated daily and will be throughout the entire WHL playoffs. You can see what the match-ups would be were they to start today etc. Head to our home page and find it there.
- Someone on Twitter asked what colours the Hurricanes will wear for the playoffs. Home teams wear white from Christmas on through to the playoffs. I wish they swapped back to the darks but they don’t.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hurricanes get the big win at home and skate away as 2016 regular season division Champs. Final score, 5-3.
OBVIOUS GDP: The players will salute the fans at the end and will receive a standing “O”. (Or at least they ought to)
NOT SO OBVIOUS GDP: The players will want to test out some new playoff walkout music and elect to go for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Brett Davis and Darian Skeoch will do the “Galileo” part in duet. I’ll let you decide who you think could pull off the falsetto better but it will be a huge hit with the older fans. Plus the song was used in the new Suicide Squad trailer so the kids might even like it too… Whatever… nothing really matters. Anyone can see. Nothing really matters. Nothing really matters to me.
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!