Once again, a very telling statistic is that Carolina only won 37% of the draws. That stat is generous because I can recall a few draws that we "won" but didn't control the puck. Worse was that we only won seven out of 20 offensive zone draws. Those are missed opportunities. We absolutely HAVE to get Rod Brind'Amour back, who is day-to-day with a groin injury.
Added to that key injury, we have the following laundry list of injuries:
- Josef Vasicek -- ACL tear, four to six months
- Nik "Secret Weapon" Wallin -- Lacerated wrist, four to six weeks
- Glen Wesley -- Groin, day-to-day
- Andrew Hutchinson -- Hip flexor, day-to-day
To ease the pain a little, we indeed called up Andrew Ladd from Lowell to make his NHL debut tonight. Despite the loss, he looked pretty good out there. He certainly didn't do anything to hurt us, and he delivered a big league check to Darryl "this is my other brother Darryl" Sydorduring his second shift as an NHLer.
On to the game recap:
At 7:15 of the first, Brad Richards (who is riding the bench on my fantasy team) knocked one in from a few feet out as a slew of folks were crowding the net. From my seat, right behind the north goal, it looked like he kicked it in, but the officials didn't see it that way, and none of the Canes complained.
At 1:27 of the second, Justin "Viva La France" Williams broke away and made a good shot that Grahame appeared to have stopped. However, the puck was trapped under his pads, and before the whistle blew, Grahame carried the puck into the net with him.
At 6:20 of the second, Vinny LaCavalier scored a really pretty goal from a tough angle at the bottom of the right face off circle. Prospal made a really nice pass and Cam Ward was so far out of position, all the horseman had to do was not fan on it. After this goal, the jerkwad Tampa Bay fan sitting right beside me got his face on our regional tv coverage.²
Only two minutes later, Ruslan Fedotenko scored an impossible goal, as he came into the zone on a one-on-four situation. That's right... four Canes in front of him. He worked his way into the slot and fired an innocent shot that somehow found its way into the net.
At 16:01, Justin Williams was on another breakaway shorthanded, but was hauled down and was awarded the penalty shot. Instead of trying to get really fancy, he made a little move, and just shot. It cleared Grahame no problem.
Up until that point, things were okay. The power play wasn't working, but there was more than a period remaining and we were only down one. However, it got ugly after that.
Two Tevvy-worthy plays helped Tampa seal the deal in the third period.
At the 5:44 mark of the final frame, Martin St. Louis scored from close in on a play that was created by a Cory Stillman turnover deep in our own zone.
The final goal of the game is the one on which the Tevvy must be awarded to Bret Hedican. He was trying to help out in front of our net, but it looked to me like it went in from his stick. Modin got the credit for it, but from my perspective, nine rows back directly behind the goal, it sure looked like Hedican's stick. Unfortunately, my DVR's memory is full, so I didn't get the game, and I can't get a good look at it on replay, but that's my story.³
Actually..... now that I think of it, I might be to blame. I've already written about my superstitious ways. Well, tonight, I did something differently, and I'm afraid it cost us the game. I only had one beer. Yeah. Normally, I have two, but I went for a soda on the second go-round.
Dammit! Sorry. I won't let it happen again.
Unfortunately, for the weary Canes, there is no rest. We've got four games over the next nine days. After that, we embark on our tour of the Pacific Division teams. That trip will be five road games in nine days. We better buckle down.
¹ I must attribute this habit of referring to "Tampa Bay" as City of Tampa to Gregg Easterbrook, who writes the brilliant Tuesday Morning Quarterback weekly column at NFL.com. It irks him, and me, that although the city is named TAMPA, they feel the need to call their sports teams TAMPA BAY, after the body of water rather than the city. GREEN BAY, on the other hand, ... ... never mind.
² I'm not calling the guy "jerkwad" simply because he was rooting for the visiting team. I have a well documented history of being able to enjoy the presence of visiting fans. I call him "jerkwad" because he arrived a few minutes into the second period and spent a significant portion of the time chatting away on his cell phone. I'm not the only hockey bloger who hates cell phone talkers. He was also wearing flip flops. Grown men shouldn't wear flip flops unless they're (a) at the beach, or (b) in a locker room.
³ There was just enough space on the DVR's memory to get that goal. It WAS NOT off Hedican's stick, but his inability to get his stick between the puck and our net didn't help matters any.