GDB R1G5: FREE BIRD
(Photo: Keith Hershmiller)
Say what you want about Mel Gibson – actually don’t – that’s probably best saved for a different kind of blog. Say nothing of Mel Gibson and instead accept his brilliant 1995 war epic Braveheart is a masterstroke.
The movie tells the story of famed Scottish hero William Wallace and his defiance of the English monarchy. He’s kind of a bad ass… what with the long hair, war paint, and general intensity.
Long story short, the movie concludes with Wallace leading his small army against a much bigger, experienced, and heavily favoured force. You’ve all heard his famous “pre-game” speech so I won’t quote it again. What I will say though is tonight’s theme echoes Wallace’s cry.
Preview Brought to You by:
This preview could go in a lot of directions and I confess, when I first sat down to write, I didn’t know where to take it. After doing some thinking and talking with a few people, it seemed to me the only real outlook one can take with this game is positivity. The reality is this isn’t where any team wants to sit. You want to be the team with the three game lead… not the team looking up at the three-game hill to climb. But if you are the underdog team, there’s only one way forward.
It’s cliche as all hell, but the Hurricanes need to take this series one game at a time. I understand that Canes fans are all in panic mode right now… I get it. I really do. The last three games were really frustrating to watch. Think for a second though. You were frustrated watching. Imagine how the Hurricanes feel right now?! They’ve had one of the most potent offenses in the league ALL SEASON… and have scored two goals through three games.
So as frustrated as you think you are, I assure you that no-one wants to win more than the guys on that team. There’s no way they feel good about losing three straight, but now they’ve run out of options and will have the flip the table.
For those of you intent to stew in your Hurricane inflicted self-pity – it might be tough to hear this – but the Hurricanes are very much still alive! Sure a 3 – 1 deficit is daunting, but it’s not insurmountable. Two of those three games are on home ice and we all know how good this team has been at the Enmax. This year’s Hurricanes team is also no stranger to getting hot and winning games in bunches. They went on streaks of 8 and 10 wins! What’s 3? It’s chump change that’s what it is. The personnel exists to pull this off. I really believe that.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. One game at a time.
I’ve seen the negativity on Twitter and around the internet forums over the last 48 hours. Hell, on Tuesday night I was part of it. For whatever reason, it was Tuesday’s loss that I found far more frustrating to watch. The foolish late penalties pushed me over the edge. The Canes could have won that game, but didn’t, and I can’t say the door was ever really open Wednesday. The Pats were good. Really good.
But the past is the past. Chin-up friends. There’s reason to be hopeful! You just have to look for it.
The tables have now turned. Whatever pressure existed is now gone! The Pats now have the task of closing out a Hurricanes team that many have already written off. Great. Let them. I mean, if Tyler Brown is a man of his word, he may not feel the need to come prepared tonight… what with the “crumbling” and all (I kid I kid). My point is the Hurricanes are now free of expectation (we can debate whether or not there should have been expectations at a later time).
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Canes win tonight… and by a healthy margin.
The Regina Pats are firing on all cylinders right now, or at least, that’s how I see it. I’m not an avid Pats fan so I’m sure I’m missing out on the intricacies of ways they can improve, but by and large, when you win three in a row and only allow two goals in those games, it’s hard to improve.
As a Hurricane supporter, that’s what I’m holding onto. The Pats haven’t been known as the most consistent team this season, and base on their last three performances, they have nowhere to go but down… right?
To say Adam Brooks has been good would be a crime. He’s been spectacular. Brooks, who ripped up the league all season, has recorded 4 goals and 5 assists through the first four games of the series. If that doesn’t make you a bonafide ‘Cane killer I don’t know what does. The Pats have 11 goals in this series and Brooks has 9 points… he’s a one man wrecking ball.
As good as Brooks has been, the Pats haven’t exactly needed to put up massive offensive numbers to win games. No, they’re getting stellar play from their big-name defenders and their goalies been good too.
The play of Hobbs, Williams, and Zborobskiy has been nothing short of spectacular. Those three have done the heavy lifting and have done so very well. Hobbs has been the most impressive to me. He jumps up on the rush, drives the puck low, can shoot, and delivers clean-heavy hits. He completely obliterated Babenko off the rush on Wednesday night like it was a walk in the park. I gave the Pats the edge on defense in my series preview, but I didn’t expect them to be this good.
On the rare occasion that the Canes do find time or space, Tyler Brown has come to the rescue. To be honest, I wasn’t very impressed with his first three games. I know he had recorded a shutout, but he had some luck on his side as well as plenty of help from his blue-liners. But by my estimation, he’s actually gotten better as the series has gone-on. Wednesday night was his best performance by far. Brown backed up is somewhat ill advised comments to the media with a well-earned shutout.
So what can we expect from the Pats tonight?
More of the same I imagine. Why change things up now? What they’re doing is working! If your Regina you’re game plan remains intact. It’s just a matter of executing and being consistent.
Ohhhhh boy oh boy! Where do we start with the nuts and bolt of this team?? Seems like there’s no pinning down the lineup these days. Between, injury, suspension, and self-induced line/roster changes, I honestly have no idea what to expect.
I imagine it will be all hands on deck. If players are even close to good enough to play… they will play (within reason of course). I would love to think that means Bellerive and (gasp) even Gutierrez have a shot at making the lineup tonight but I know that’s probably wishful thinking. We know for certain that Carter Folk will be serving the final game of his suspension and that his absence widens the hole left by Bellerive and Gutierrez.
I HATE talking about injured players missing from the lineup because it always seems to me like a predisposed excuse to lose. That said, Gutierrez, Folk, AND Bellerive?? That’s an entire 2nd or 3rd line! I mean… at some point even I have to recognize that missing all three of those players is a serious detriment to the Canes attack.
I said today’s preview would be positive but I didn’t promise blind optimism. The reality is losing those guys hurts. We will know closer to game-time who’s in and who’s out but one way or another, the Canes just have to get the job done with the pieces they have available.
When you can’t seem to score goals it’s all about simplifying things. Get traffic in front of Brown and shoot. Shoot from everywhere. Trying to generate on the rush just isn’t working out right now. I will be looking for guys like Cory Millette and Ryley Lindgren to step up and manufacture goals in-tight – and to do so early. Perhaps if Lethbridge can get a one or two greasy-goal lead the Pats will be forced to open things up and, in turn, the Canes will have more chances off the rush.
I’ve spent this whole section talking about the forwards! It seems fitting to me. The Canes have lost three games in a row. I can’t blame the goaltending for any of those games, and despite a few soft plays resulting in Pats goals, it’s not like Regina has been running away with contests. The defense hasn’t been bad! When your offense isn’t clicking everything else suddenly falls under increased pressure.
It’s all about ‘dem goals baby! Put a few behind Brown, get your mojo back, and get back off the mat. That’s it. That’s all I got today.
Throw it all aside. The Canes are down and on the brink… but what that means is tonight they can play free. Free of the pressure and worry of winding up exactly where they already are. They’re here now! Everything is laid bare and it’s kind of refreshing!
Aye, lose and you go home. Win and you’ll live on — at least for another game. That’s all we can hope for and it’s a great hope.
I hate how cheesy this is but… screw it… hold onto hope Hurricanes and fans! There’s no reason to enter tonight’s game with heads hung low. Let’s do this!
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Pats finally show some cracks and the Hurricanes take advantage. Lethbridge wins 4-2.
OBVIOUS GDP: Stuart Skinner makes an outrageous cross crease save on the penalty kill that ignites an excited but nervous crowd.
NOT SO OBVIOUS GDP: A Hurricanes fan will bake a delicious blueberry crumble for Tyler Brown to eat on the bus back to Regina.
What do you think? Who are you excited to watch tonight and what will be the outcome. Comment below.
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