GDB R1G2: LATHER, RINSE, REPEAT
Wow. Just wow. Three simple words, but they largely prove to be an apt analysis of last night’s game. If you weren’t in attendance then simply put, you missed out.
Seven years is a long time to wait for anything and you could tell that the players and fans were seriously hungry for some playoff action. The building was at a fever pitch all night long, and the boys delivered, skating away with a 6-3 victory and 1-0 series lead. But what does that mean for tonight?
Here’s today’s game day preview….
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Normally in this space I would begin to talk about individual players, or team dynamics heading into the on-ice action; however, today I want to begin talking about you, the fans. It was electric inside the ENMAX Centre last night. E-L-E-C-T-R-I-C! Towels whipping, voices hollering, feet stomping, southern Alberta awesomeness. There were like 8 people in my section alone who had their faces painted! Kudos to you Lethbridge. It was the exact atmosphere that playoff hockey deserves. The “lather” if you will in today’s GDB title. The bar has been set and every fan deserves a high five for making the building a tough place for the opposition. Of particular note was when the fans began to chant “Skinner” following Skippy’s Jean Claude Van Damme like save on a Regina 2 on 0 in the 3rd period. It was wonderfully reminiscent of the “Juha” chants of the ‘08 run. I got chills. (Note to the video production crew – A quick clip from The Simpsons of Superintendent Chalmers yelling Skinner would be pretty boss, just sayin’). I fully expect tonight’s game, and all future home playoff games, to be a carbon copy of last night’s from a fan perspective. If anything the crowd will only get more raucous. The personification of The Scorpions’ “Rock you Like a Hurricane” perhaps? So it shall be.
I expect that we will see a different Pats team on the ice tonight. Head Coach John Paddock was likely furious with his team’s discipline last night, especially in the 3rd period. You are rarely, if ever, going to win hockey games giving up 12 power play opportunities, especially against the #1 PP in the league. I imagine that the message in Regina’s room was all about composure and responsibility to yourself and your team. The Pats will be looking to “rinse” off last night’s game and play a much more disciplined contest. Their D corps will be looking to make amends as Williams, Hilsendager, and Freadrich accounted for 5 minor penalties between the three of them. Hilsendager’s minors seemed particularly egregious, as they were easily avoidable by playing a smarter, headier game.
From an offensive perspective, Adam Brooks came exactly as advertised last night figuring in on all 3 Pats’ goals. Speedy winger Cole Sanford was also effective, posting 2 assists and figuring into several other scoring chances. Regina will look to play like they did for large portions of the 2nd period. Their transitional speed was on full display for much of the middle 20. They were continually putting pressure on the Canes back checkers leading to numerous chances and a couple of goals. The Pats have one of the best breakouts around and can make the opposition pay big time, as evidenced by the Wagner snipe. That’s the type of game that Regina will be looking to play in an effort to even up this series at one a piece.
Lethbridge faced their own discipline issues last night and will also look to “rinse” those off heading into game 2. While it was nowhere near the penalty trouble that Regina got into, giving up 6 power play opportunities is still unacceptable. The Canes got a little careless with their sticks at points and it led to a pair of Regina PP goals. Despite the diversity of moods between the two dressing rooms, I imagine that there were similar messages being shared. Contain your emotions, don’t be goaded into engaging with the opposition, and take care of yourself and your stick.
The Canes will also look to “rinse” their coverage adjustments in the offensive zone. As Brock masterfully pointed out in last night’s post game report, the Canes were victimized by poor coverage shifts on defensive pinches leading to Pats’ goals. Lethbridge’s forwards will need fill in at the blue line much quicker tonight, when the D men are leading the rush, if they want to limit Regina’s ability to counter attack in the possible event of a turnover down low. Defensive involvement in the offence was a major ingredient in the Canes’ success last night and needs to be “repeated”, but the Canes have to ensure that their switches are extra tight if they want to head to Saskatchewan with a 2 nil series lead.
The Canes will also look to “repeat” their opening to the first and third periods. In both cases the Canes came out hard and fast putting all kinds of pressure on the Pats. This resulted in goals inside the first 2 minutes (the one in the first via a PP). The Canes dictated the pace and were able to be the clear aggressors while keeping Regina on their heels. If the Canes are able to build a lead like they did last night they will also look to “repeat” their play in the 3rd period. Lethbridge did exactly what you need to do when you are up on the scoreboard in a playoff game. They got pucks deep, used their physicality to separate the Pats’ defenders from the biscuit, and got the cycle game going. It’s the type of play that wears the opposition down. To put it colloquially, the Canes stepped on Regina’s throat and didn’t let up until the final horn. The Canes didn’t look like an inexperienced playoff team in the 3rd as they delivered the knockout blow in front of 5000 or so screaming fans.
There’s likely to be some lineup changes for the Canes in game 2. Darian Skeoch is eligible to return after serving a one game suspension last night as result of his “staged fight” in the Hat. Skeoch’s return probably means that young Calen Addison is the odd man out along the blue line. It will be interesting to see what effect Skeoch’s return has on the game. It is possible that the Pats were a little extra physical last night, especially after the whistles, because of Skeoch’s absence. They might have felt a little more comfortable without “Sherriff Darian” in the lineup. No such comforts will exist tonight.
Additionally, Jordy Bellerive is a question mark after leaving last night’s game with an apparent injury. What does that mean for the Canes? It might mean that Barrett Sheen draws back in, or it could mean that the Canes go with an 11F-7D configuration like they have employed numerous time this year. If the later situation occurs it would likely mean that Calen Addison stays on the bench. If I was forced to make a prediction, I would say that the Canes would opt to go with 7D if Jordy can’t play. I’m leaning that way only because Bellerive has been playing centre as of late and I think the coaching staff would elect to double shift a Wong, Burke, Estephan etc. with the fourth line to compensate. The extra day of rest before heading east may also figure into the coaches’ decision on this matter. This is no way a slight against Sheen who has played well this season, but is rather one bloggers’ musing about what might play out tonight. With all that being said, hopefully all of this prognostication is for naught and Bellerive is ready to go in game 2.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Cane Train rides the wave of fan enthusiasm to a 2 nothing series lead on the back of a second consecutive 6-3 victory.
Obvious GDP: Pandemonium at the ENMAX Centre. The “Skinner” chants coalesce into something beautiful following more stellar saves by the young Canes tendy.
Not So Obvious GDP: Brady Reagan takes his stellar paly versus the Pats to another level with a goal and an assist tonight. Following the goal he creates a new ‘cele’ move that combines whipping a pretend towel while dabbing. It becomes immortalized in Lethbridge lore simply as “Reaganomics”.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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Remember to tell him Canes Domain sent you!