So here's the answers to the four big questions I asked in my pre-game post.
- Will the Canes remain perfect at home? Yes. We are now 5-0 in the friendly confines. As I am writing this, NHL.com is reporting that we are 6-0 at home, but this simply isn't true.
- Will Eric Staal continue his torrid pace? You bet your sweet ass! He scored three goals. Unfortunately, when the game was in progress, credit for one of those goals was given to Stillman, so no hats were thrown. It wasn't until after the game that the scoring was changed. However, a lucky fan will be receiving a shiny new John Deere lawn tractor, which will later be autographed by Eric Staal¹ Through ten games, Staal has nine goals and nine assists for a total of 18 points. He's all alone in first place in the league in points.
- Will Josef Vasicek finally score a goal?Yes.... sort of. He scored our eitghth goal into an empty net. Not as challenging, but it still counts.
- Can I resist the temptation of drinking the second $8.50 beer?. Fuck no. Yes, by the way, the beer is really $8.50. But it's for a 24 ounce beer, and tax is included. It's a little on the highh side, but there's nothing you can do about it.
I can't begin to give all the details about this game. I can say, though, that I haven't seen such excitement since we made our 2002 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Okay... I take it back. I was on Franklin Street after UNC won the National Basketball Championship this year, but that's different. Seriously, though, the building was electric. It was good to see it that way again. It hasn't been like that in a looooong time.
One of the best things was that the "pouting petulant prima donna" also known as Kieth Primeau was a minus three and had no points while our end of that trade, Rod Brind'Amour, was a plus three and had a goal and an assist. To make that even sweeter, Justin Williams (another former Flyer) assisted on Brindy's goal and was himself assisted by Brindy on a lovely goal from a faceoff in the second period. Actually, Primeau only had one shot on goal -- a breakaway chance in the first period during which he was booed thunderously. Later in the game, pockets of fans throughout the arena chanted "Pree-mo ... pree-mo ... pree-mo .... YOU SUCK!" It's way more fun chanting this at a skater than it is at a goalie.
The Canes showed textbook resiliency. Twice they were down by two goals, but they fought back and never gave up. I wish we'd quit spotting our opponents a two goal lead, but if we end up winning the game, I suppose the end justifies the means.
Most importantly, Eric Staal was a stud. I'm really sad that the crowd didn't get to throw hats on the ice for his hat trick. Listening to him in the post game radio interview, though, he sounded every bit like a veteran. "I'd rather us win the game than to have a silly stat like that (the hat trick)". What a night for him, though. He turns 21 on Saturday and his dad was in town to watch the game.
A great stat from this game is that the Canes went three for seven on the powerplay, including two of three during their five goal third period.
I'm really proud of the way this team is playing, and I'm really happy that Hurricane fever has hit Raleigh. Finally. Hopefully it'll be as pandemic as this avian flu everyone is talking about.
Maybe I'll give a full report of the game later. For now, this is the best I can do. I have to go watch the dvr of the game.
A-Hutch was a healthy scratch again and still has zero points.
¹ Every game, one fan is selected as the John Deere Hat Tick contestant. If any Canes player gets a hat trick, that fan wins a brand new lawn tractor valued at $1,500. At the end of the season, there's a big ceremony in which all of the winners are presented with their tractors, and the player who recorded the hat trick autographs the hood of the tractor. It's really cool.