THE ROAD AHEAD: NOVEMBER
Before I go further, it would be a crime not to mention how brilliant Mad Max Fury Road is as a film. Max (pictured above), played by Tom Hardy, is a hero of a dark dystopian future where water is the most valuable commodity. If you are into intense action films, Mad Max is one of the best of the decade! Go watch it…. don’t even read the rest of this article. Drop what you’re doing, leave a saucer of premium gasoline in front of your tv to establish some scented ambiance, and soak it all in.
Oh what a day! What a lovely day!
With the flurry (or should I say…fury?) of content hitting the site as the Hurricanes traveled West, our November preview took a backseat. With a few days to reflect and digest what took place in October, lets now look forward to November. As I mentioned in our October preview, “The Road Ahead” will be a monthly breakdown of the Hurricanes schedule. The idea is to highlight key games and give the fanbase context for what is to come. Looking ahead also provides us with a chance to set some reasonable expectations for the coming month and briefly reflect on the month that was.
It’s a little late! But here is our preview of November.
Before we dive into November, lets take a quick look back at the month that was. The Canes played a total of 12 games in the month of October. Their record finished at 9 – 3. Take a second and let that soak-in. The Canes not only performed well in October, their record was one of the best in the league. Thanks largely to an impressive eight-game winning streak, the Hurricanes exceeded ALL expectations. The record is even more impressive when you consider that they played two more road games than home matches.
In our October preview I wrote,
October doesn’t see the Hurricanes face a murders row of top end WHL squads. The highest calibre teams the Canes will face include Kelowna (2), Red Deer and Vancouver.
The elite status of some of those teams has changed. Vancouver, in particular, has fallen off. But in the games I identified as key match up, the Canes went 2 – 2. The two losses to Kelowna were tough to swallow. The Canes played the Rockets very well in both cases but couldn’t get the job done. They almost scraped a point out of the road game against the Rockets but it wasn’t meant to be. I also wrote,
Optimistically, the Hurricanes take advantage of the friendly home schedule in the first two weeks – and win three of four – setting themselves up for a great month. Realistically, it would be great to see the team emerge from October a game, or maybe two, over .500.
I stand-by those projections, but the Canes exceeded them by a mile. Lethbridge currently sits seven games above .500 (with three games played in November). It was a fantastic month and one I would argue not one even the most optimistic fans saw coming.
With a fairytale October now behind us, what should we look for in November? The Hurricanes play a total of twelve games. The first three games of the month have already been played. Lethbridge lost a close game in PG to the Cougars, then followed it up with a complete team victory over Seattle and a greasy win over the Ice. As I write this, Lethbridge is 2 -1 in November. A good start. Looking at the graphic above, November’s games are heavily grouped together on weekends. Of the month’s twelve games, only three are on weeknights. While the Canes play more home games in November, the circumstances are challenging. Twice they play three games in three nights, and in another case, play three games in four nights. Both goaltenders are going to see lots of action in November. I anticipate a close to 50-50 split between the pipes.
From the 13th to the 15th, the Canes will log some serious bus time between Moose Jaw, Brandon, and Regina. It’s a tough stretch against one elite team and two solid, “middle of the pack”, squads. One win would be a victory, but as we saw in October, anything is possible. Lethbridge will then have a condensed five game home-stand. Fans in Lethbridge will enjoy a rare visit from the Everett Silvertips on the 18th and get our first look at a few Eastern Division teams after that. In total, the Hurricanes only play three games within the Central division, and all are against the Ice. They have already won the first, can they win the other two? Also note the road game in Regina on the 18th starts at 3pm MST. It’s the first afternoon game of the Canes season.
So what should we expect from the month of November? While the home-heavy schedule is advantageous, the condensed weekends will take their toll. Bringing your A-game on back to back (to back) nights is incredibly difficult. As Jeremy noted in the wrap-up against Kootenay, Lethbridge just wasn’t as sharp as they were the night previous against Seattle. I expect they will win a few back to back games and lose others. Being at home will help.
Firstly, I give the month of October 10 out of 10 flaming guitars. The Canes crushed it. What a ride.
Second, considering their opposition, the schedule composition, and their 2 – 1 start in the month, I think it would be reasonable to look for the Canes to come out of November with 14 points out of a possible 24. We shouldn’t be upset if they don’t, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to pull out a few more. It will depend on the Hurricanes team that shows up on most nights. The speedy, skilled, intelligent team that beat Seattle Friday – or the tired, discombobulated team that got taken advantage of at the end of a long road trip in October.
Given what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to bank on the former on more nights than not.