GDB R1G2 WRAP UP: SUFFOCATED

  • Brock Boot

r1g2-Post-Cover

(Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller)

You know that opening scene from The Return of the King where we see Smeagol (Gollum) out fishing with his brother Deagol? At first, they’re just having a good ole time together, probably sipping a few beers and talking about the prettiest hobbit girls around town (you know… fishing) – but then – things get serious.

Deagol finds the One Ring in the river and Smeagol wants it really bad. They start fighting and Deagol appears to be winning at first! Only, Smeagol survives the early onslaught and quickly turns the fight in his favor. Before he knows it, Deagol has Smeagol’s cold, bony hands around his neck… and it’s too late.

Struggle as he might, Deagol is slowly suffocated to death by the more cunning Smeagol and Gollum is born.   

Trust me… this will eventually all make sense… I hope.

We wrap.

 

Infographic

The Hurricanes were the better team to start tonight’s game. By the media timeout in the first they had earned a powerplay and outshot the Pats 8 – 3. Despite being the better team, Lethbridge had nothing to show for it thanks to strong by Pats netminder Tyler Brown. Brown was particularly good on the Canes first powerplay where he denied the home side two or three times in tight.

Much like the Canes pushed back after a media timeout last night, Regina was much better in the second half of the 1st. Were it not for two sensational saves by Skinner, it’s likely that the Pats would have held the lead after the first twenty minutes. As fate would have it, Skinner did make those saves, and while Regina would wind up finishing the period with a 11-8 shot advantage, they (like Lethbridge) weren’t able to get on the scoreboard.

The second period started with Babenko serving the remaining of an interference penalty. Again, Skinner was called on to make a number of saves as the Pats had zone possession for most of the powerplay.

 

shots

The Pats didn’t strike on the powerplay, but just over two minutes after it ended, Brooks would open the scoring with a shot from the bottom of the circle. The Hurricanes 4th line had gotten caught on a long shift, and after an initial Pats rush was thwarted, Brooks took advantage of a discombobulated Hurricanes zone-defense and skated himself into the perfect shooting position before putting it behind a sprawled out Stuart Skinner.

With 6:07 remaining in the second, Austin Wagner took a pivotal tripping penalty. What should have been a turning point for Lethbridge, ended up being a great two-minute sequence for the Pats. The Canes powerplay was scattered, disorganized, and it almost cost the team a goal against. The Pats generated 3 or 4 grade A scoring chances – including Brooks ringing one off the post and a three on one that saw Brooks shank a hip-height saucer pass. Despite playing with fire, Lethbridge would only surrender the one goal before the period ended.

 

PPS

Lethbridge may have escaped a goal-against to end the 2nd, but it didn’t take long for Adam Brooks to find his way back onto the scoresheet in the 3rd. Early in the period Austin Wagner found his linemate streaking through the neutral zone with a perfect pass and, in all alone, #77 made no mistake. The goal put Regina up 2 – 0 with just over 18 minutes to play.

Harrison took a cross-checking penalty around the midway mark of the 3rd and you got the feeling the Canes’ hopes hung in the balance. Again, the Pats penalty killers did a sensational job of pressuring the Hurricane attackers into turnovers. It was frustrating to watch from a Hurricanes perspective and the crowd started to grow antsy. Regina would kill it off and put Lethbridge up against the 8-ball.
I would love to say the Hurricanes pressed Regina hard in the dying minutes, but the reality was that the Pats didn’t allow Lethbridge the zone-time. As had been the case since the media time out in the first, Regina kept Lethbridge to the outside, clogged up the neutral zone, and in the end, rendered the Hurricane attack completely useless. To add insult to injury, Sam Steel would add an empty net goal before the final buzzer to make it 3 – 0 for the road team. Game over. Pats win.

 

 The-Good

GOOD

  • Stuart Skinner was one of the lone sparkling “goods” tonight for Lethbridge. This section of the post game is reserved for stand-out “goods”. There aren’t many tonight because, while some good stuff happened for the team, there was very little that actually deserved standout recognition. Skinner is the exception. He was stellar tonight. He gave his team a shot when they probably didn’t deserve to still be in the game. He was the only Hurricane rewarded with one of the night’s 3 stars and I couldn’t agree more.
  • The 4th line had it’s issues tonight but I wanted to recognize the efforts of Brett Davis. He won a few faceoffs and generally played with great defensive awareness. In other words, he stood out for the role he played.

 

 

Not-So-Good

NOT SO GOOD

  • Lethbridge lost the faceoff battle tonight and it really hurt their possession.
  • A night after being the difference maker, the Hurricanes powerplay struggled mightily. Not only did it not generate offense, more often than not, the Canes PP would surrender more chances than it would earn. The worst moments for the PP were during the ghastly Wagner penalty in the 3rd. The chances on the man advantage were there, they just couldn’t turn them into anything.   
  • The Hurricanes’ neutral zone play was a killer.  Regina had systematically found a way to crush Lethbridge’s transition game by pressuring the forwards and clogging up the middle. The Canes struggled to counter. They were missing elementary passes or having them picked off with ease. In the end, Regina was able to keep the Canes from entering their zone with speed, and when they did, it was contained to the far outside. Which brings me to….
  • ….coaching. I’m not sure I’ve once mentioned coaching in the “bad” section but tonight I have to question the lack of adjustments made in the 3rd. Paddock had locked-in on the Hurricanes neutral zone systems, yet time and time again, the Canes came down the ice and tried the same passes and plays. By the end of the 3rd things had actually gotten worse. When they really needed to press, the Hurricanes couldn’t even find a way into the Pats zone.
  • Regina won more puck battles than Lethbridge. It’s part of what limited coaching options for the home team. When you can’t win puck battles after  a dump-in, you’re forced to carry the puck into the zone. When your opponent can also key-in and keep you from carrying it too, you’re in a near impossible situation.
  • Regina is exposing the Canes right side defense. Tonight Wagner and Brooks were able to burst in down the left wing and find time and space.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

  • Lethbridge initially had some success with the long-pass in this game. Lindgren and Folk both had breakaways but were unable to score in the first ten minutes. Had the puck not bounced over his stick, Wong would also have had a chance in alone. Those chances disappeared after the first media timeout.   
  • Adam Brooks is an absolute juggernaut. He’s been in on virtually every goal the Pats have scored. It’s not hard to see which player Lethbridge needs to focus-in on.
  • With all due respect to Tyler Brown, this was not a standout performance for the Pats goaltender. He was good enough, yes, but the lion’s share of the credit ought to go to the Pats overall commitment to team defense. Brown needed to be great in the first ten minutes, but after that, the Pats netminder was on easy street thanks to the great play of his teammates. I actually felt Brown struggled with his rebound control most of the game, yet time and time again his forwards and defensemen were able to collapse, lift sticks, and get the puck away from harm. He wasn’t bad, so please don’t think I’m disrespecting him. I just really feel like his teammates made his night pretty easy.
  • Overall, the Pats really impressed me with this win. I thought they were decent in game one outside of the 3rd period and for them to bounce back with this effort tonight…. the Hurricanes have their hands full.

 

CONCLUSIONS

It would be easy to point the finger at Lethbridge (and I did to an extent), but first and foremost I think we need to pay some respect to the team wearing the road jerseys tonight. Regina played a near textbook road game.

Survive the early onslaught from the home team? Check. Slowly wrestle control away and drag the home team into a very specific style of play? Check. Be patient, wait for a moment to strike, then do-so with cold, calculated efficiency? Check. Once leading, clog up the neutral zone and stifle the opposing team’s offensive outlets? Check.

Regina did ALL of that and they did it well. There are two teams on the ice, so as easy as it would be to carve the Canes for a poor showing, I think we need to accept that the Pats won this game more than the Canes lost it.

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Lethbridge had found a way to finish even one of their golden chances in the opening five minutes. Lindgren, Folk, Wong, and Davis all had grade A opportunities to score and the finish just wasn’t there. Before they knew it, Brooks had found a way to score (again) and they were in trouble.

Coming back to the analogy from the intro, the Hurricanes represented the Deagol character. Initially, things looked good, but they didn’t capitalize when they had the early edge. Their opponent was smarter, more cunning, and eventually, both the Hurricanes and Deagol met their demise through slow, painful strangulation.

 

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9 thoughts on “GDB R1G2 WRAP UP: SUFFOCATED”

  1. dbourassa says:

    This was a great rebound performance for the Pats in that they made numerous adjustments to rectify what they did wrong in game one and as a result a tough loss for the Hurricanes in the sense that everything that was clicking really well in the first game was failing in this one, apart from Skinner obviously, who made some highlight reel saves yet again and gave his team a solid opportunity to make something out of it.

    While Brown comes away with the shutout, I don’t feel he outperformed Skinner at all and like you said, his rebound control left something to be desired. I have to wonder if he’s showing some signs of playoff jitters, just because he’s dropping some dangerous rebounds on saves that have been routinely steered into the corners or out of play throughout the regular season. What I think he did do well though was slow the game down in the Pats’ zone. By gloving down shots regardless of whether they were on point and getting the stoppage in play, he consistently disrupted the cycle and did not allow the Hurricanes to dictate the pace in the offensive zone. Depending on who’s winning the faceoffs on any given night, it might not be advisable, but tonight it worked in the Pats’ favour and also enabled them to get certain players off the ice and another certain player (you know who) on, partially counteracting the disadvantage of not having last change.

    Things I’ll be looking for in game three are what adjustments the Hurricanes make, particularly in the area of zone entry which the Pats seem to have become wise to. As you said, no adjustments were made going into the third period, but it’s also tough and at times risky to try new things on the fly, especially in a close game. The Hurricanes didn’t really play a bad game in my eyes, but between some simply unlucky bounces and the Pats making a mess of their powerplay and zone entry in general, it had the illusion of being sloppy.

    On the Pats’ side of things, it’ll come down to consistency. Up until the final month of the season where they managed to put together a few win streaks, they were a team that would play their best game of the season one night, then come out the next and look completely terrible and I’m not fully convinced certain players have shaken that fully. While they stayed disciplined, unselfish and the defense was hard-working and quick to dispose of loose pucks in the slot, if they don’t continue to do it for the rest of their post-season campaign, then this game won’t really mean that much.

    I’m also curious to see what line-matching Paddock actually does want to do, besides Brooks vs. everyone. With two games in the books, there wasn’t a lot of consistency in that area for the Pats. Game one was obviously a disaster in numerous ways for them, so I didn’t expect to see much of that used going forward, but it seemed like they shortened the bench very early tonight while the Hurricanes continued to roll with four full lines. Because I can’t see who’s doing what behind the play on the video feed though, I have no idea if it was due to certain players underperforming, being clearly outmatched or even potential injuries. Looking forward to getting to see it live this week; it’s much better that way!

  2. J. Johnson says:

    I think Lethbridge was mentally exhausted after all the hype and excitement of game one. Even the fans seemed tired, the atmosphere just wasn’t the same. Experience tells you not to let the highs get to high or the lows get to low.
    Now that those two games are done, the boys will settle in and play the game like they can. This reminds me of the first two games of the season.

    1. Darren says:

      Excellent point. The Canes certainly were a step behind tonight, so your theory is very plausible.

  3. J. Johnson says:

    Oh ya, I strongly agree with your assessment on Davis, he has raised my eyebrows a few times this season.
    Skilled, great IQ, very fast and the ever elusive -SIZE- Playing a role right now but going to be fun watching him develop.

  4. Brock Boot says:

    Incredible analysis Bourassa. Seriously. Some great takes in there. It’s nice to have someone drop intelligent comments from the other side of the fence.

    As far as Johnson’s point, I think you might be on to something there. The comparison to the first and second games of the season (A home and home vs. Med Hat) really struck home with me. I think it’s a brilliant so I threw your comment up on our Twitter account. There are a lot of parallels there. Now we just have to wait to see what the response is.

  5. Jeremy Sakamoto says:

    Dang. I’m loving the thoughts on here today, great analysis from J Johnson and Dbourassa. The point about Pats line matching is interesting. What effect will a shortened bench have as the series drags on?

    I have to agree about the crowd last night. There was marked difference in energy and enthusiasm when comparing Friday v Saturday. Hopefully the energy returns for game 5.

  6. kayakgibson says:

    There definitely was a very different “vibe” in the building last night. You could almost feel the sense of worry by the fans as the first period completed. This was not the same Pats team that was taken apart by the Canes the night before. Full credit to coach John Paddock who made major adjustments and had his team play like the Edmonton Oil Kings against Lethbridge. Time and space was gone, flow was gone, and good luck getting a shot through to the net on powerplays (which were reduced greatly as the Pats were more disciplined.) Fans were on “edge” because of the tone of the game, not on the “edge of their seats” with excitement.

    Brooks is a force, but Paddock’s use of basically 2 lines could catch up with him, and Brown played well enough, but can consistency stick with him and the Pats.

    I agree with J. Johnson’s comment about experience. For all but a handful of Hurricanes who have played no more than 13 playoff games, this is a complete new experience for them. Playoffs are a different kettle of fish. It will be up to Kisio and Craig to make adjustments both on and off the ice in order to prevent a 3-1 Pats series lead.

    Skinner has certainly evolved into a top notch goaltender (but we knew that); Babenko has added a different element to his game (gritty forechecking); Addison, Bellerive, Davis will be integral parts of the Hurricanes future.

  7. Darren says:

    In all the analysis maybe I missed this, but I didn’t notice if anyone touched on the Pats’ not taking near the amount of penalties in Game 2? They probably got away with a retaliatory cross check on Babenko (after Igor was called for interference along half wall), but they really did a good job of focusing on the game and not putting themselves in the situations they did in Game 1 resulting in all the penalties.

    Good thoughts by everyone on here. And yes, I like the theory that J. Johnson offered (that the Canes were suffering from a letdown of emotions from the buildup to Game 1).

    As mentioned in the main article, I also thought the Canes had difficult breaking out of their zone due to the Pats cutting down the neutral zone. Paddock obviously focused his team on not letting the Canes make those long stretch passes out of their own zone. While I thought the Canes were able to make a few of these passes in the back half of the 3rd Period, the Pats recovered well in their own zone and (as was also mentioned), kept the Canes to the outside of the zone and clogged the middle up and had very good zone coverage.

    I was disappointed the Canes defence allowed Brooks the kind of room they did on the first Pats goal. I watched him sneak out of his zone anticipating a turnover and by the time the Pats took the puck away, he was well behind the Canes defence. Seems that is THE player they should be keeping an extra eye on.

    I think this series could go 7 games.

  8. Peter says:

    Yah it seems to me they need to Hit Brooks. Shut down Brooks. Take the series. Pretty simply.

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