A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Canes win again -- 5-3 over Pens. Staal shines.

Once again, the Canes spotted their opponent a two goal lead. Once again, they poured it on in the third frame, scoring four goals to overtake the host Penguins.

I won't get into the details of the game until I watch the dvr of it, but I will say this: Eric Staal is a superstar.

I didn't think he could outdo his three goal effort last night against the Flyers, but he decided to celebrate his 21st birthday by assisting on four of the Canes five goals. He now has nine goals and 13 assists for a total of 22 points after 11 games. All alone in first place in the points category, second in the assists category and second in the goals category. At this rate, he'll score 164 points and run away with the Art Ross and Hart trophies.

I have to be realistic about this and say that he'll slow down at some point. Honestly, though, I thought he would have already slowed. Either way, he's been one of the best players on the ice in every game we've played. Somehow tonight he didn't get a star, but we all know he was the best player on the ice.

If you aren't a Carolina fan, you need to start watching our games. We're a good gutsy team and that kid is a phenom. If you live near an NHL city where the Canes will visit, you need to get a ticket for that game. You'll wanna be able to say "Yeah, I've seen that kid in person -- he's amazing."

We have the next four days off, and I'll expect to see a full house when we return back home to host the Leafs. I also expect that the team store is selling Staal sweaters faster than they can re-stock them. I can't wait for that game.

Happy Birthday, Eric Staal!

Today is the day that Eric Staal stops asking Radim Vrbata to buy beer for him. He'll turn 21, and he can buy his own beer after the Canes take on the Pens at Mellon Arena. Actually, he'll be able to buy a beer for his dear old dad. The Hurricanes have put together a ""fathers weekend". 15 Canes players have their dad traveling with the team for the Pittsburgh game tonight. They have also been with the team for last night's home game against Philly.

To commemorate the 21st birthday of #12, I'll be listening to Rush's rock opera, 2112 all day long.

Okay, that's a joke. I don't own that record. I don't even like Rush. I have a friend (a Rangers fan) who once told me that it's "un-American" to not like Rush. I don't understand why it's our patriotic duty to like Canadian prog-rock, but ... whatever.

I doubt that Staaly will have a better game than he did last night, but I suppose it's possible.

Canes ground Flyers 8-6

On Friday night at the RBC Center, the Flyers exploded for six goals. Fortunately for the packed house home team crowd, the Canes had a mega-explosion of their own, for eight goals and the win. It marked the most goals the team has scored since the franchise moved to North Carolina in 1997.

So here's the answers to the four big questions I asked in my pre-game post.
  1. 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.

  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Friday, October 28, 2005

HNIC -- Philly at Carolina

It's Hockey Night in Carolina again.

The Flyers come to town for the last of a three game home-stand.

The Canes fifth home game, my fourth.

Will the Canes remain perfect at home?

Will Eric Staal continue his torrid pace?

Will Josef Vasicek finally score a goal?

Can I resist the temptation drinking the second $8.50 beer?

Tune in later for the answer to all of these questions, a recap, details, and exclusive photos of the game.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks will visit the Pepsi Center for the first time since "the Bertuzzi incident". Expect lots and lots of booing, but nothing more serious.
It would be a fun game to watch, though. Damn, I wish I had signed up for Center Ice.

Canes prevail 4-3 in OT

The Canes remained unbeaten in the RBC Center by outlasting the visiting Bruins in a 4-3 overtime thriller.

The Hurricanes continued their play with fire trend of going down two goals before storming back to take control of the game. Perhaps, though, this is just proof that in this "new" NHL, a two goal lead isn't what it used to be. Perhaps, also, the Hurricanes have finally gotten rid of all their Chairman Mo tendencies to cower in a corner when they found themselves down two goals. Obviously, the "Miracle at Molson" is notwithstanding.

Matt Cullen gave us a 1-0 lead midway through the first, but Boston would score the next three goals. Brad Boyes, Sergei Samsonov and Brian Leetch each had one. Boyes assisted on the Sasmsonov and Leetch goals.

Frank Kaberle tapped the puck into an empty net late into the second to make it 3-2. With about 12 minutes to play, Erik Cole tied the game with helpers from Kaberle and Eric Staal.

With 1:36 to go in the OT period, Matt Cullen finished off a chance by poking the puck, one-handed, past the Bruins' Andrew Raycroft.

Eric Staal had two assists on the game, giving him a total of 15 points (6/9), which ties him for the league lead.

Andrew Hutchinson was a healthy scratch, and still has zero points. At this point, I may be willing to concede the hotdog with cheese and the two beers to Jes Gölbez. It looks like he's definitely going to be the odd man out on the Canes blueline.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

January 28 will be Ron Francis Night

This is what we've been waiting for. This will surely be the biggest crowd we've had since the Stanley Cup Finals in '02.
The Canes have announced that they will send the #10 sweater into the rafters on January 28, 2006 in a ceremony before our matchup with the Atlanta Thrashers. There is some great debate on the Canes boards about how many Hurricanes sweaters have been retired. Some say this will be the first, while others (myself included) say this will be the third. If you count the league-wide retirement of the #99 sweater, this will be the fourth, but I don't count that.
The Whalers retired the #9 sweater for Gordie Howe, who only played briefly with them. The Canes don't have a #9 in the rafters, but they are honoring the retirement by not issuing the number.
The #3 sweater was unofficially retired after Steve Chaisson died in a single-car accident following our loss to Boston in the opening round of the 1999 playoffs. The organization has made it clear that the number 3 will not be issued anymore, but they don't wish to have a number retirement ceremony due to the touchy nature of Chaisson's death.

Anyway, we'll all be there with tears in our eyes when the big 10 goes sailing up to the ceiling. I consider myself very lucky to have had the privilege of seeing him play so many times.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Canes down Sens 3-2

Despite giving up a goal before the game's first line change, the Canes were able to storm back from a two-goal deficit and win the game 3-2 on Monday night.

Just :14 into the game, rookie Patrick Eaves found a loose puck in front and jammed it home. This is something I've seen a number of times before. During an early-season slump in 2002-03 the Canes allowed first minute goals in several games. Fortunately, things worked out tonight.
Only two minutes later, Jason Spezza put a really soft one through Martin Gerber's legs to make it 2-0. Dany Heatley and Wade Redden picked up helpers on the goal.
However, Gerber would not be shaken. He turned aside the remaining 44 shots including a bunch in a furious sequence late in the third.

The Canes got on the board 7:38 into the second stanza with a beautiful backhander by Eric Staal on a perfectly executed power play. His sixth goal of the season was assisted by Rod Brind'Amour and Justin Williams.

Three and a half minutes later, Matt Cullen tied it with a shot from the slot. The goal was sweetly set up by Ray Whitney, who now has three points in two games.

Frantisek Kaberle took advantage of a turnover 2:43 into the third by blasting one from the point through a double screen, off the post and in. It looked to me like it was redirected by Vasicek, but no correction was made.

The next 17:17 was tense, but Gerber slammed the door. The Canes remain undefeated at the RBC Center.

Andrew Hutchinson was a healthy scratch and is stuck on zero points.

Keys to the game?
1. Stay out of penalty trouble -- Check. The Canes were shorthanded six times, and killed five of them, including a five-on-three.

2. Apply pressure on the PP -- No. We had eight power plays, and capitalized just once. For the entire game, we only put 27 shots on net. This still needs some work.

3. Get Josef Vasicek in the scoring column -- No. Although I thought he redirected the Kaberle goal, no credit was given. He had just one shot on goal.

4. Goaltending -- Check. Big Check. Gerber was not shaken despite being in a two goal hole only three minutes in. He turned aside 44 shots! He kept the big rebounds to a minimum. Spectacular.

5. Defense -- Not so sure. Commy looked great out there, and A Ward continued the hit parade, but the unit could have done better than to allow 46 shots on goal. If not for a tremendous effort by Gerber, it might have been 8-3.

The best play of the game, though, wasn't a goal or a save. It wasn't even the thunderous (and legal) hit by Ottawa's Vaclav Varada on Kevyn Adams. The best play was immediately following the Sens second goal, just before the ensuing faceoff. Jesse Boulerice threw down with Brian McGrattan, giving the team and the sparse crowd something to get excited about.

Next up: Wednesday night at home versus the Bruins

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hockey Night in Carolina: Canes v Sens

The undefeated Senators come to town tonight. I didn't have this game in my package, but the prospect of seeing the best team in the league and some friends wanting to go prompted me to pick up some extra tickets.

Here are my keys to the game:
  1. Stay out of penalty trouble. The Sens are good enough at even strength. We don't need to give them too many man advantages. Our penalty killing has been great thus far, albeit against weaker teams. We really need to keep it up on that end.

  2. Apply pressure while on the PP. Now that we've got Ray Whitney in the lineup, we should be able to run the power play very well. Moving the puck around isn't good enough; we have to create traffic out front (Josef Vasicek, are you reading this?) and put a lot of shots on goal.

  3. Get Josef Vasicek in the scoring column. Only one assist thus far. Staal, Cole, Stillman and Roddy can't do it all. Big Joe is way too talented to not be producing.

  4. Goaltending Assuming Cam Ward will sit this one out, we need Martin Gerber to have a great game. There will be goals. There will be multiple goals. He can't get rattled, though. Most importantly, he's gotta control those rebounds, and the occasional errant tip from one of our d-men.

  5. Defense Aaron Ward has had a terrific season so far. He and Mikey C have been playing a very tough and clean brand of defense. They need to keep it up.

I know that in a keys to the game type post, I'm supposed to say stuff like "Contain Jason Spezza" and "Don't get mesmerized by Heatley's eye". I actually think that special teams will be the difference in this game, so that's why I focused on that stuff more than more specific player focus.

Details and pictures when I return.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Canes get five of a possible six points on road trip

Saturday night, Carolina finished off a three game road swing by shutting out the Capitals 4-0. During the trip, the Canes outscored their opponents 14-6. On Monday, the Canes will return to the RBC Center, where they have been perfect in two outings. The visitors will be Dany Heatley, his eye (with which AQG of Hockey Will Tear Us Apart is completely obsessed), Daniel Alfredsson, the freakishly tall Zdeno Chara and the undefeated Ottawa Senators. They will be without the services of Martin Havlat, who was suspended for five games following a kicking incident in the Sens-Bruins game on October 15.

Now... about Saturdays game.

Cam Ward had to leave the game in the fourth minute during an extended glass-repair delay. It looks like he was shaken up a bit and possibly injured his arm on a play with lots of bodies crashing the net. Martin Gerber had to come into the game fresh off of the injured list. He did a damn fine job, putting himself back into the goalie mix. He only faced 17 shots, but he turned them all away. Unfortunately, he doesn't get credit for a shutout since Ward started the game and faced one shot. On the other end, Olie Kolzig faced 41 shots. The Caps are far and away the most shot-upon team in the league, which says a lot about their defense. Their offense isn't that terrible, but they can't continue to allow 37.9 shots on goal per game.
It was the highly anticipated debut of Ray Whitney, who was activated from the IR and dressed for the game. He did not disappoint, as he had one power play assist and a power play goal. This is exactly why we brought him in. His goal was a nifty one-timer from Erik Cole to make it 4-0 late in the third. Somehow, he had crept into the slot undetected, and Colesy made a perfect pass. In the second period, Whitney made a similarly perfect pass to Brind'Amour in the left face-off circle for an easy power play goal. Whitney received second star honors. Somehow, the media saw fit to give Kolzig the first star. He certainly played his butt off, but I don't think first star should go to a keeper who gave up four goals. Go figure.

Eric Staal also had a good night, adding his seventh assist on the Brindy goal. He now has 12 points for the season.

In the three-goal second period, Cory Stillman scored the first with helpers from Cole and Kaberle. Matt Cullen scored a freaky goal when his shot was redirected by a Caps skate and through the five-hole of Kolzig.

I was working, but I DVR-ed it, and I watched the whole thing. Carolina's defense continues to look really good, and the power play is continuing to hit. We connected on three of 12 chances, making us nine for 44 on the season. 20.5% is seventh in the league. Now that Whitney is playing, we should see the PP get even better. We have also killed 34 of 39 penalties (87.2%), which is sixth best in the league. Added to that, we are the fourth least penalized team in the league.

Andrew Hutchinson was a healthy scratch and is still on zero points for the season.

There was a scare with three minutes to play in the game. Rookie referee Wes McCauley was nailed in the face with a deflected shot. He immediately dropped to the ice and had to be helped off. There was a cut above his left eye which required stitches. From the looks of it, a visor would have prevented the injury. No word on his injury, but x-rays on Cam Ward came back negative.

I'll be taking some friends to the Ottawa game on Monday. They're not really fans, but they've always wanted to go.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

More fun with sweaters

As promised, I will be fair, and share with you some of my favorite hockey sweaters. I've already shared my least favorite third sweaters, and I spared you the monstrosities that Vancouver wore from 1977-84 and the other eyesores they wore from 1985-1997.
Most of the sweaters below are third sweaters that are currently in use. Some full time sweaters are included because of a drastic and favorable shift in color scheme/logo.
Note: these appear in a generally chronological order.

The New York Rangers introduced the "Lady Liberty" third sweater in 1996. I like it for its patriotic overtones and its nod to the Statue of Liberty, which is not only a cultural icon, but a defining element of the city. Something it can call its own. And it refrains from gaudiness that the bad sweaters were so full of.

Also, in 1996, the Buffalo Sabres made a significant change in their colors and their logo. Out with the "running buffalo" and the crossed sabres. Out with blue and gold (Let St. Louis have that). In with black and red. In with a new, more stylized logo. Only the head of the buffalo, looking pretty pissed. I'm not a fan of the third jersey, which they introduced in 2000 (with just the crossed sabres), but I do prefer the red in that one to the black in the Sabres home sweater. Anyway, this was a great change. The sweater is much better looking than the old ones.

In 1997, the Ottawa Senators introduced a third sweater with a more cartoon-ish version of the senator. The traditional look had the senator/spartan in profile, while this newer one has him looking right at us. In 1999, this look became the official "road color" jersey and they introduced a different third sweater. Of course the league designated "team color" as the home sweater for the 2003-04 season, making this one-time alternate sweater the official home sweater. I like it because it stays close to the traditional logo, and yet it makes it look more punk rock. Maybe I like it because it's red.

The Flames introduced a third sweater in 1998. A pretty big change from the flaming C logo, which they brought with them from Atlanta and modified. A horse with flames shooting out of its nostrils. Who'd want to fuck with that? Certainly a tribute the city's old west heritage and its world famous rodeo, the Calgary Stampede. As a side note, one thing that organization does which I think is very cool is that the alternate captains wear a flaming A miniature Altanta Flames logo.

For the 1999-2000 season, Dallas converted their alternate sweater into their "real" sweater. One odd thing about this is that the "white" jersey has a significant portion of the sweater that is actually team colored. I don't really like the sweater that much except that it pays homage to the team's Minnesota NorthStars roots. By the same token, the gigantic star on the sweater pays homage to the state of Texas. The Lone Star State. Please, please please do not let history repeat itself. I'd really hate to see their current third sweater become the full-time sweater.

Probably my favorite third sweater is the Edmonton Oilers sweater, which was designed by comic book guy Todd McFarlane ("Spawn"), who happens to be a part owner of the team. I like the ultra-modern industrialism of it. The five spokes of the gear symbolize the five Cups the team has won. I don't like the lace-up style, but that's just my preference. The logo is cool enough to make up for it.

While they don't wear one of my favorite sweaters, it's worth pointing to the history of the Penguins sweater. They entered the league in 1967, wearing powder blue and white (left). That's enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes. Throughout the '70s, the shade of blue got a little darker, and actually two-tone. Then, in 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Superbowl and the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. The Penguins decided to change their color scheme mid-season and ditch the blue (middle) in favor of black and gold (right), which the Steelers and Pirates both wear. The Bruins raised a lot of hell, claiming that they had invented black and gold as a color scheme, but the league wasn't hearing it.

There are other sweaters that I like, but these stand out the most.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Showdown at the TO Corral.

Toronto edged the Canes 5-4 in an exciting overtime game on Thursday night. Both teams looked great.
Ray Whitney was kept out with his groin injury.
Andrew Hutchinson was a healthy scratch again. He still has zero points.

Darcy Tucker was first to light the lamp with a blistering slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle after Tverdovsky gave the puck away in neutral ice. Ward didn't have a chance, as it hit the right post and went in.
Alexander Steen added a goal for the Leafs later in the first when he tipped/redirected a blue-line blast by Bryan McCabe. Again, Wardo had little chance to make a play on that.
Just one minute later, Oleg Tverdovsky scored his first goal in a Canes sweater when he slammed home a gorgeous centering pass from Eric Staal. No chance for the Billion dollar man.
While the Canes were busy killing one of about a billion first period power plays, Erik Cole had a shorthanded breakaway, but went just wide of the open net as Belfour came out to meet him.

In the second, the Canes found themselves on back-to-back power plays about 8 minutes in. The first was furious. We put a lot of shots on net and a lot of pressure on. Radim Vrbata had two terrific chances, but Belfour answered the bell both times. In the second of those powerplays, the Cap found the net on a nice feed from Frank Kaberle.

Later, while the Canes were on another powerplay, Matt Stajan took advantage of a terrible pass by Cam Ward to come in on a breakaway and score the shorthanded goal. Although he had the chance handed to him, he had to make a great shot to beat Ward.

Erik Cole had another breakaway chance with a wide open net later in the second, but Tomas Kaberle made a really great defensive play to keep him at bay.

In the third period, the Leafs were able to widen their lead to 4-2 on a nice goal by Eric Lindros from the right face-off circle. Moments later, however, the third time was a charm as Erik Cole was able to finish off a breakaway chance, fighting off a pokecheck/dive by T. Kaberle.
Cory Stillman tied it up at the 17:32 mark with a goal through heavy traffic with a delayed penalty in hand.
In the overtime period, Eric Staal picked up a high-sticking penalty with less than two to play, which was the key. Roddy actually had a breakaway shorthanded chance, all alone, but he was too indecisive and couldn't get a shot off. The Leafs were able to move the puck around as they pleased and won it with 18 seconds left on a slapper by Ken Klee.

All in all, a good game, and the Canes were able to pick up a point on the road. Although we were only able to score on one out of six chances, the powerplay units looked good. Also, our penalty killing was great, as they were able to limit the Leafs potent power play to one out of five.

On the night, Eric Staal had three assists and was named second star of the game. For the young season, he has 11 points (5/6) in six games, which is tied for second in the league. Jagr has 14 points (10/4), but has played nine games. Staal is on a pace to tally 150 points, while Jagr is on a 126-point clip. Neither guy will keep up the pace, but it's neat to talk about that stuff while the season is young.

Up next: Saturday night at the Capitals.

Whitney to play?

There is a chance that we could see Ray Whitney tonight. We've been anticipating this moment for some time now, and we've been, I might add, very patient with his recovery from a groin injury. Supposedly, he's shit hot on the power play, which is why we brought him here.

Honestly, I don't think he'll play tonight, but if he's feeling up for it, then we will.

Full details of the game as soon as it ends.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Goalie mayhem

There's a lot of shuffling of goalies. Some due to injury, some due to suckiness.

The Red Wings have sent Chris Osgood to Grand Rapids for conditioning following a groin injury.

The Penguins have sent Emma Fleury back to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after playing really sucky in three games. While Jocelyn Thibault is on the mend from a knee injury, Sebastien Caron will be their guy.

Rangers coach Tom Renney has announced that Shady 80 will be their #1 guy when he finally returns from his groin injury. While he's been out, rookie Henrick Lundqvist has played sensationally. He's appeared in 4 games, posting a 3-0-1 record, allowing five goals on 100 shots. When Weekesy returns, though, the rook will go back to the pine.

Thrashers fans are lamenting the injuries to both of their goalies. Kari Lehtonen will still be out for another week at the least while former Ranger Mike Dunham is expected to return this week. In their stead, the Thrash have been using Adam Berkhoel and Michael Garnett. Neither is NHL-quality.

Meanwhile, the Islanders are rushing Rick DiPietro back into action only a few days after he sustained a concussion versus the Caps. He is expected to start tonight versus the Rangers.

Meanwhile, in Canes camp, it looks like Martin Gerber may be ready to return to action. While he's been gone, the rookie "SteadyCam" Ward has been terrific, earning a 3-1-0 record and posting a 2.05 GAA in five appearances. Although I haven't heard any official word, I would guess that Gerber will be riding the pine. No reason to fix what ain't broke. Anyway, Gerber looked pretty bad in his one start. Until Cam starts losing, I say leave him in.

I'm off tomorrow night, so I'll be planting myself in front of the TV with beer, popcorn and hotdogs. I can't wait. The Leafs are playing well, so it should be a great game. I also have to decide whether I want to go to the Senators game. It isn't in my package, but I'm off that night, and it's the freakin' Senators.

These hockey dreams ... what do they mean?

Since the Canes have had a few days off, and the free preview of Center Ice has expired, I haven't watched any hockey in the past few days. I have, though, had some hockey dreams. I can't figure them out.

One of them involved me taking some friends to a game. More specifically, a couple. They're not into hockey at all. They just wanted to go with me since I'm so into it. We got a group of seats that were near my normal seat, but a few rows back. They had a terrible time.

Another dream involved me arriving at the arena without any of my stuff, or my ticket. I couldn't get ahold of my ticket rep, so I thought I would be doomed. For some reason, though, it wasn't a problem. The ticket scanner guy and the usher both let me go right through.
Incidentally, this happened to me going to a concert one time. I had forgotten the tickets for my friends, but the door guy let us all in since I was on the guest list. Since then, I've been obsessive-compulsive about making sure to remember the tickets whenever I go to a ticketed event.

Yet another dream involved me arriving at the arena to find out that my seat wasn't there. It didn't exist. They had widened the Zamboni entrance and had to take out seats on either side of it. My seat was one of the casualties. I wasn't given any explanation or any sort of recompense. Very strange. In this same dream, they had also converted the arena into one of those fancy retractable-roof venues. They had the roof open. This was probably the strangest of all the dreams. The others make sense (sort of) while this one does not.

Tomorrow night we've got the Leafs.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Canes hit milestones in 6-1 thumping of Devils

The Carolina Hurricanes crushed the Devils 6-1 on Saturday night, earning their first road victory of the young season. Along the way, there were a couple of milestones worth mentioning.
Erik Cole's unassisted goal at 16:39 of the first period was the 50th goal of his career. Due to a defensive lapse by the Devils, he was the benefactor of a giveaway, which he turned into a breakaway, and beautifully put it top shelf past Brodeur. A mere 17 seconds later, the Canes tallied another, on Matt Cullen's finish of a perfect set-up by Oleg Tverdovsky. With five assists already, I'm certain that Tverdovsky was an excellent pickup in the offseason.

The win was the 100th win in Coach Peter Laviolette's career. He was 77-62-19-6 in two years at the helm of the Islanders, and was 20-26-6-0 after inheriting the Hurricanes mid-season in 2003-04.

With the Canes up 5-1 after two periods, Martin Brodeur allegedly removed himself from the game. I'm not sure that I believe that, but if it makes him happy, then okay. Despite being one of the defacto leaders of that team, he doesn't feel like it's necessary to display leadership qualities like never give up.
I could have stayed in. It was my choice,'' Brodeur said. ``When the team is struggling, why be in there for the sake of being there?''
For the sake of being there??? You're there to help the team, and if you can't then you should admit it. Hey, Marty ... You're supposed to deflect praise and absorb blame, you idiot. Maybe you should have said something like: "I gave up five goals on 19 shots. I wasn't doing much to help the team while I was in there, and a change was necessary".

Despite scoring six goals, Eric Staal could not find his way onto the scoresheet, so his consecutive game goals and points streak has come to an end. Nevertheless, we're all very happy with the improvement Staalsy has made during the lockout.

In other news, my guy Josef Vašíček finally scored his first goal of the season. That goal was really amazing. Radim Vrbata, who already had a goal in the game, made a terrific behind-the-back pass from behind the net to Big Joe, who was all alone in front with a wide open net. Everyone on the ice except those two, thought Verby was going to wrap around, but instead dished it. The Czech Connection strikes again!

With Krispy gone (thankfully) and Jaro Svaboda playing in Dallas, our Czech numbers are dwindling. Even with the addition of František Kaberle on defense, we don't have the Czech numbers that we used to have. It was good to see another Czech connection. Reminds me of the run to the Cup.

Mikey C got his first two assists of the season, and Justin Williams finally got in the scorebook with his first assist.

Andrew Hutchinson was a healthy scratch. He still has zero points on the season.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

there's no room at the inn

Add another great name to the list of retired players this year: Brett Hull.

To be honest, I figured this would have happened during the off-season. When the season started and Hull decided to play, I was happy that one of the greats was still around, but kind of surprised. Nonetheless, I was shocked when I heard the news tonight. So shocked, that I'm not even going to write about the Hurricanes 6-1 pounding of the Devils. Not yet, anyway.

With the already packed list of candidates for Hall of Fame '07 induction, it might have been a magnanimous gesture on Hull's part to "play" this season. For the same reason, maybe it was selfish. Only four players can be admitted each year, and they have to have been retired for three "playing seasons". The Hall has made it clear that although there was no NHL in 2004-05, they still consider it to be a "playing season". Problem is, there are already seven guys who would likely be first ballot inductees if not for the limit.
Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens and Mark Messier are locks and WILL get the first ballot. Vincent Damphousse, James Patrick and Igor Larionov would probably be good candidates for first ballot in any other year. They will, then be pushed to the class of '08. With Hull becoming eligible that year, he will surely be a first ballot. By "playing" this year, he ensured that nobody out of Francis, Messier, Stevens and MacInnis got shoved out in his favor. He also puts his name first on the list of the class of '08.

Good luck in retirement, Brett!

More on this later.
A post about the Canes later.
For now, I have to celebrate the beginning of my "weekend". Time for drinking!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Canes pop the Caps

Everything I asked for came true tonight in the Canes 7-2 thrashing of the visiting Capitals.
First, Eric Staal continued his streak of goals. Coming into tonight, he had scored at least one goal in each of our three games so far, but had no assists. In fact, the Canes had only scored two goals by players not named Eric Staal. Tonight, the 20-year-old scored another goal, extending his goal streak to four games and his goal total to five. In addition, he added three helpers, bringing his point total to eight, tying him for first place in the league. While this is cool on the individual accomplishment level, there were some other things that happened which were very cool.

The best thing is that we finally got the power play going. We converted 3 of 7 power play opportunities, getting goals from Matt Cullen, Staal, and Rod Brind'Amour. On the Staal goal, there is absolutely no way that the Eric Staal who weighed 185 pounds in 2003-04 would have scored that goal. It took a lot of strength to fight off two guys. Then, from a pretty sharp angle, he forced Olie the Goalie to overcommit, and he found a wide open net and an easy goal. It was gorgeous.

The second really good thing is that we got six different players to register their first goal. Cullen, Brind'Amour, Erik Cole, Nick Nordgren, Bret Hedican and Justin Williams.

We continued to get good defensive play out of Calgary Flames castoff Mike Commodore and Aaron Ward.

So we scored more than two, we spread the wealth around, and we produced on the power play. My three keys to the game.

Cameron Ward looked fantastic again in earning his second win in three starts. The caps "scored" two goals, and one of them will probably later be ruled an "empty net" goal, freeing Ward of responsibility for it. The other Caps goal was by rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin, who worked very hard on the play.

We continued a really bad trend that most likely set an NHL record. For the second game in a row, we scored an own-goal. Early in the second period, the Canes had drawn a delayed penalty, Cam was pulled for an extra skater. Pretty normal. Like something out of the Twilight Zone, Nick Wallin made a backpass to nobody, and the puck sailed right into the empty Carolina net. As the last Cap to touch it, Zubris got credit for an unassisted goal. I incorrectly assumed that this empty net goal did not belong to Ward, but it in fact DID show up in his stats. That's criminal in my book.

Andrew Hutchinson was a healthy scratch, and stands on zero points for the season.

We saw Frantisek Kaberle for the first time, and he did a pretty good job.

Up next: a visit to the swamp.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Eric Staal

My firstborn son will be named Eric Staal Lee.

Not only did Eric keep his goal streak alive by scoring a goal tonight, but he picked up the pace. Tonight, he scored a goal and added three assists in a 7-2 ass pounding of the Crapitals. He is now tied for tops in the league with eight points after four games. More, including my own photos, later.

quick notes

Some quick notes before I leave for tonight's matchup versus the Crapitals.

Eric Staal is having a tremendous start to the season. Four goals in three games, and looking very good. We kept saying in 2003-04 "If he just gains about 20 pounds, he'll be a real force to be reckoned with." He gained the 20 pounds, and is playing with such confidence. It's pretty amazing. Obviously, he won't keep up the pace that he's keeping right now, but it's nice to see some production right out of the gate.

Now we just need the rest of the team to start scoring. Josef? Kevyn? Erik? Rod? Justin? Cory?

As far as I know, we'll still be without the services of Ray Whitney, who continues to recover from some crazy rib/neck/groin injury. I think we've scratched Radim Vrbata in every game, but nothing on the injury report. I don't know what's up with that.

The Rookie Cam Ward is looking very good. His record thus far is 1-1, but he looked really sharp even in the loss to the Islanders the other day. So it appears that all the hype is not without reason. Gerber schmerber. I like the kid.

We REALLY need to get the power play going, and we need to start scoring more than two goals per game. That didn't cut it in the old NHL and it certainly won't cut it in the new NHL. It would seem that a game against the Caps would be the perfect opportunity to give our offense a jump-start, but we have a history of underachieving versus them.

I had the day off on Monday, so I took the opportunity to take advantage of a busy NHL schedule and the free preview of NHL Center Ice. I watched a lot of hockey that day. I'm awfully tempted to just throw down the $129 to subscribe to Center Ice. There are better more responsible ways for me to spend that money, but it sure does look nice.

I watched some of the OLN game that night, too. I have to say that I don't like their zoomed-in look. I understand that the reason for doing that is they didn't like that a traditional hockey tv angle includes the first nine or so rows of seats, and they wanted to avoid that. They said something like 32% of the screen was spectators, and by zooming in, they have 32% more ice. The math is wrong on that, and I don't have time to get into it, but all they're doing is actually showing less ice, much closer up. The result is that there's a lot of camera movement to follow the puck. It's a little dizzying to be frank. Nonetheless, they still treat hockey better than ESPN did, so there's that.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bad sweaters

Dave from Sidearm Delivery reminded me that the current Islanders third sweater is nowhere near as bad as their Gorton's Fisherman sweater from the '96-'97 season. Unfortunately, several teams took an opportunity to unveil third sweaters in the heyday of grunge, and there were some really bad ones. Let's take a look at some of those from the mid '90s and some others more recent as well.

My second least favorite third sweater is the female reproductive system Dallas Stars third sweater that they're wearing now. I was completely shocked and dumbfounded the first time I saw it. I think it's supposed to be a cow or something, but it looks retarded. The color scheme is all wrong, and the placement of the star logo on the sleeve doesn't help.

For the 1998-99 season, the Coyotes started wearing a really wretched third sweater with a stupid desert scene on the bottom. They didn't have the sense to do away with them until the 2002-03 season. That was the same year that they revamped their sweaters altogether, going with a different logo and a slightly different color scheme. I like the new sweaters much better than the old ones, and anything is better than this.

The Los Angeles Kings have a history of bad sweaters, thanks to their pre-Gretzky royal blue and gold color scheme. However, for the 1995-96 season, they introduced a bad idea for a third sweater, which they only wore for one season.
It almost looks like the
Portland Breakers logo from the USFL.

For three seasons, starting in 1996-97, the City of Tampa Lightning wore a really horrible looking third sweater that was supposed to resemble a storm at sea. Again, with the wave theme, it looks a little USFLish. I'm not sure what was up with those little lightning bolts on the sleeves, but they don't look good. And the rain drops? Yeah, not feelin' it. This one honestly looks like they let a nine-year-old design it. It isn't the slightest bit easy on the eye. The whole thing is just way too harsh.

The Nashville Predators current third sweater is um, not good. Something about it makes the animal seem more docile than dangerous. I think the color is just a touch too soft. There's something not quite right about the eyes, too. And I'm sorry, but mustard is just not a good color. On top of all that, the neckline is really boxy, and that's stupid.
This one, though, won't be the worst looking sweater that Paul Kariya has ever worn.

This brings me to my favorite bad sweater. Easily the worst sweater of all time. The 1995-96 Anaheim Mighty Ducks alternate sweater:

I don't even know how to comment on that. I don't know how many games they wore these in, but these should never have seen the light of day, let alone the ice of an NHL arena. How in the world did the league ever approve that?

For the record, I also hate Altanta's third sweater (left), and their normal home sweater (right). The blue on the third jersey is not even a color that's really in their scheme. Like the Philadelphia Eagles' or Duke Blue Devils third jerseys which are black despite the fact that neither one of those teams has black as one of its colors, the Thrashers third sweater is Carolina Blue¹, which isn't one of theirs. I think it's goofy that they only have the number on one shoulder of the third sweater and "ATLANTA" down the sleeve from the other shoulder, but there's nothing in the rulebook dictating that the numbers be on the shoulder at all.
As far as the normal home jersey goes, it also vaguely resembles the female reproductive system.

There are lots of current third sweaters that I really like. To name a few, Columbus, Edmonton, and Boston. Maybe someday in the near future, I'll do a write-up about the alternate jerseys I like.

¹. Technically speaking, Carolina Blue (for the University of North Carolina) is Pantone 278, whereas the color on the Thrashers third sweater is something closer to Pantone 279, or maybe Pantone 278.5. Nonetheless, it isn't one of their colors.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The bad, the ugly, and the good

Carolina lost by the tally of 3-2 to the Islanders, who were playing their first home game on Saturday night. Obviously, that's bad. They failed to capitalize on five power play chances, making them 0-15 on the young season. Also bad. What's worse is that the game-winning goal was a shorthanded tally by the Islanders' Shawn Bates. Very bad.

Miro Satan "scored" his first goal in an Islanders sweater thanks to a freak play. Canes defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky was near the net to knock down Satan's shot, but when he tried to clear the puck, it floated past Cam Ward for the goal. Replays clearly show that Tverdovsky inadvertently knocked it in, and since Satan was the last Isle to touch it, he is credited with the goal. That was ugly. Also on the ugly side is the Islanders third sweaters, which they wore for opening night. Ugly.

On the "good" side, I might actually say "very good" was that our 2003 draft pick Eric Staal scored both Canes goals. The first one came midway through the first. Josef Vasicek made a VERRRRRRRY long pass to a streaking Staal, who came in alone and buried it against likely Team USA netminder Rick DiPietro. On the play, Staal received the pass right at the Isles blue line, and had to really utilize his reach to stay on side. It was beautiful. After the Isles took a 3-1 lead, coach Lavi pulled Ward with about 1:45 to go. With the extra attacker, we were able to apply some serious pressure, and we got another goal out of it. It was one of those where there was a slew of traffic out front and the puck found its way into the net. The replays I saw show that it should have been Tverdovsky's goal, but they're crediting Staal with a tap-in as the puck went from post to post. So after three games, Staal has four goals. One in the first game, one in the second, and two in the third. I may have to institute an Eric Staal monitor.
From the looks of this young season, it seems like we're going to really take advantage of the legalized two-line pass. We've gotten a couple of breakaway goals as a result of long, legal passes.
We need to get the power play going. We need to start scoring more than two goals per game. It's a long season, and we've got plenty of time to make the adjustments, but everyone would breathe a little easier if we could have a game very soon where we accomplish those things. The Crapitals are coming to town on Wednesday, so that may be our chance.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Taking the term "injury bug" literally¹

I was taking a peek at the list of injured NHL players, and I saw one I thought was odd. Leafs defenseman Wade Belak is out with a spider bite. Get that? A spider bite. I thought it was pretty goofy until I read this article from the Toronto Star. Turns out, it's quite serious. What makes it even more strange is that he has been the victim of a serious spider bite on at least one other occasion.
I don't get it.
There are a ton of groin injuries across the league, which is common early in the season. Included among those is the 260 pound Keith Tkachuk. Jes Gölbez asks "How do you pull fat?"

¹ I know... A spider isn't an insect, and thus wouldn't be termed "bug", but just give me a little slack.

The kid's alright!

The kid came through tonight. No, not ""The Kid". I'm talking about Cameron Ward. He had to start tonight because of the injury to Martin Gerber, and he helped the Canes to a 3-2 victory over the Penguinsthat went to shootout. Lots of folks were really scared, but I think he played a terrific game. His puck anticipation was tremendous, and he seemed really poised. Not at all what you expect to see out of a rookie in his very first start. He was called on to make some really key stops, and he answered the bell almost every time. He gave up two goals on powerplay situations, and other than that, he was nothing short of great.

The Canes got off to an early 2-0 lead in the first. There was no scoring in the second, and the Pens rallied for two late in the third to send it to the extra frame. No scoring in overtime, so we advanced to our first regular season shootout. Stillman scored on the first shot of the shootout, and that was all we needed. Ward made a nice stop on SuperMario, and watched as Sergei Gonchar Ziggy Palffy went wide of the net. With the Canes up 1-0, the Pens last hope was The Kid, who was stopped cold by our new favorite guy.

For the Canes scoring, Eric Staal put on a show to get the first goal, beating Gonchar in open ice and flipping a pass towards the net. The pass deflected off of Josef Melichar's skate, then his stick, and went five hole on Sebastian Caron. Caron was starting in favor of Jocelyn Thibault, who was terrible on Wednesday night.

Our second goal was a thing of beauty. Cory Stillman streaked out of the penalty box to meet a LOOOOONG breakaway pass from Rod Brind'Amour. Deke, deke, deke, deke, then he pulled it across the mouth of the goal and tapped it into the open net. It looked like that Pavel Datsyuk goal from 2003-04.

The two Pittsburgh goals were power plays. Ryan Malone came in unassisted after a funny bounce and Ziggy Palffy came in with helpers from "The Kid" and Richard Jackman on a four-on-three powerplay.

Obviously, we're all happy that the Canes won and that Staal scored again, and that Stillman scored, and that we got some great D by Mikey Commodore. However, we're not happy that the Canes couldn't execute on the powerplay and that they sort of fell asleep in the second and third periods. We had a chance to really put the game away, but didn't play aggressively enough. I hope we can find a way to overcome that.

With Ray Whitney on the IR, we were forced to use a defenseman as a forward again tonight. This time, we put Andrew Hutchinson out on the fourth line. In 5:57 of ice time, he was unable to get an assist on either goal. He is still sitting on zero points.

On my way to the game, I encountered some terrible traffic because of heavy rain and a huge wreck on the interstate. Authorities said that between 30 and 40 vehicles were involved in the wreck. That mess was in the west-bound lanes, while I was headed east. All lanes of westbound traffic were closed. Meanwhile, in the eastbound lanes of traffic, at the same mile marker, a Winnebego had stalled in the center line and caught fire. I was really scared that it might explode as I was driving past it, but it didn't and I guess they eventually got it under control. That was only taking up one lane of travel. At any rate, my original ETA at the arena was 2 hours prior to puck drop, but I got there with only about 15 minutes to spare.

That wasn't the only drama, either. Just before the game began, some crazy woman who hadn't planned things out very well wanted someone to swap tickets with her so she could sit near some friends. Her seat was two entire sections and five rows further back than mine. She wouldn't accept "No, sorry" as an answer. She wouldn't accept "No, I'm not doing it because this is the specific seat I selected for my season tickets, and your seat sucks" as an answer. Fortunately, before I had to get really nasty, her husband convinced her to quit trying.

I really like the young couple that sits next to me, but I miss the couple that sat behind me last season. They stayed in their same seats, and I moved forward two rows, so I don't "hang out" with them any more.

Overall, the home opener was a big success.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

why can't this happen to Sean Avery?

Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin will be out indefinitely with a fractured orbital bone.

The injury was sustained when he took a puck to the eye in Wednesday night's opener against Ottawa. This type of injury is very scary, as vision loss is always a concern. Fortunately, there was no damage to the eyeball and no reported loss of vision.

Even though he's a Leaf, it's really hard to find anything bad to say about Sundin. He's just a great player.

The injury may require surgery, and he is expected to miss at least four to six weeks.

I wouldn't wish injury on anyone other than Todd Bertuzzi, but I wouldn't be sad at all, or the least bit concerned if this kind of thing happened to Sean Avery. After running his mouth about players who wear visors, it would be fitting for him to suffer a similar fate. A visor probably would have prevented this injury.

'Canes stumble in opener

Carolina came out a little sloppy Wednesday night, and ended up losing 5-2.
I think the memory in my DVR is full, so the game was not available to me when I got home. I have to go on what I've read and heard about the game.
Martin Gerber started out in net, but wasn't effective. After two frames, we were down 4-2. One of those goals came on a fluky bounce, and another (their first) came in a situation when he was hopeless. The defense had failed and Vaclav Prospal was all alone 11 feet in front. Thus began the scoring.

Gerber said he hurt his hamstring, so he was pulled for Cam Ward, who played well, allowing one goal on 11 third period shots. If Gerber indeed has a hurt hammy, we'll see Wardo in net for our home opener on Friday.

Carolina's two goals came on Tampa turnovers. Here is something we can take from this loss. We took advantage of those two turnovers. We can also be happy that we won 17 of 29 faceoffs and that we limited Martin St. Louis to one shot in 19:22 of ice time.

Mikey Commodore had three takeaways and a blocked shot. I liked the way he played in the pre-season, and the statsheet shows that he played well last night, too.

By all accounts, Eric Staal was a real force on the ice. He had an unassisted goal in the second, and he created some scoring chances that didn't bear fruit.

Our other goal (our first) was a Radim Vrbata unassisted tally following a sloppy Tampa turnover in their own zone. A lot of people are getting tired of waiting for Vrbata to break out. He won't win the Rocket Richard, but he may have career high numbers thanks to the new NHL.

There are a lot of Negative Nellies over on the 'Canes message board saying things about "the way this season is shaping up" or "the way this team looks". Good grief!! It's been ONE GAME!!!! We came out a little flat-footed, but we were, after all, playing the defending Stanley Cup champs in their building.
Now that we've got the opening night jitters out of the way, we can move on. 81 games to go.

Both Carolina goals were unassisted. No points for Hutch.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

opening day predictions

On opening day, I'd like to share some of my predictions. I won't get into divisional standings, and I won't even get into who will or won't make the playoffs. I just want to predict the trophy winners. Most of them anyway. Some of these "predictions" were made simply by using the first name that came to my mind. None of them involved any serious amount of research. Feel free to tell me what you think of my predictions
Here's what I think:
  • Art Ross (total points scored): Cory Stillman

  • Calder Memorial (top rookie): Thomas Vanek

  • Hart Memorial (League MVP): Jarome Iginla

  • James Norris (best defenseman): Nick Lidstrom

  • Lady Byng (gentlemanly play): SuperMario

  • Maurice "Rocket" Richard (top goal scorer): Milan Hejduk

  • Vezina (best goaltender): Marty Turco

  • William M. Jennings (goaltender with fewest goals against): Andrew Raycroft

  • Clarence S. Campbell Bowl: Calgary

  • Prince of Wales Trophy: Ottawa

  • President's (best record): Ottawa

  • Stanley Cup: Calgary

  • Conn Smythe: Iggy

You might be thinking about that Calder trophy, and you may be saying "Vanek???? Why not Crosby? Why not Ovechkin?" I think Sid will have a very slow start, and will put up something like 25 points. He knows there are high expectations for him, and he may not be ready to produce right away. Ovechkin will probably start with a bang, but I've got a feeling that he won't stay strong all season. Vanek will slip in under the radar and have a very, very good rookie year. Everything else is probably a little on the safe side.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Adams family reunited?

I have no idea what's going on in Peter Karmanos' head.
During the off-season, we let Craig Adams walk. He signed with The Los Angeles Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Kevyn Adams(no relation) got to take the "K." off the back of his sweater.

Hold the phone.

Yesterday, we traded defenseman Bruno St. Jacques for Craig Adams. St. Jacques had just been sent down to Lowell. He arrived in Carolina in the Sami Kapanen-for-St.Jacques and Krispy trade.
I'm not sure I get it. We don't need Craig Adams unless we're planning on trading Jesse Boulerice. His role is to be an agitator and will contribute maybe 20 points if he plays on the big team.
We don't have a need for two fourth line enforcers, and Craig's offensive upside is much better than the Bull's, which makes me suspect that Boulerice is going to be packaged in a trade. Maybe to the cash-strapped Devils. Don't quote me on that. It's just an idea.

Someone call the team seamstress and have lots of "K." plates made for Kevyn's sweater.

I have a lot of memories of Craig being a better enforcer than Jesse ever was, anyway. He might not drop the gloves as often, but he'll make you pay if he does. I remember one really lengthy fight he had with the entire Capitals team after Jason Doig put a really hard and questionable hit on Erik Cole (at least I think it was Cole). Doig had, just a couple of weeks prior, been suspended by the league for a kneeing incident against Kevyn Adams, so we owed him one anyway. The fight went on and on with not a lot of action other than pushing and wrestling, but at the end of it all, C. Adams made a throat-slashing gesture towards Doig, which was not penalized by the league.

Really, the only way I see C. Adams playing on the big club is if we have some plans to dispose of Jesse. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see some trade involving multiple players going to Jersey. Keep your eyes peeled.

On a housekeeping note, I finally added sidearm delivery to the blogroll. He doesn't always write about hockey, but it's always good. I've also added one more to the Canes blogroll. Welcome aboard, CasonBlog. Please let me know if you want me to add anything else to the blogrolls.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fantasy hockey

I've been playing fantasy football for five seasons, and although I don't like baseball, I've played fantasy baseball for two seasons. This will be the first time that I've played fantasy hockey. The league I joined didn't quite pan out like we hoped, as we only got six guys to join, but I suppose it's better than nothing. For some reason, our commissioner set it up to be an auto-draft, but I'm pretty pleased with the way the draft bots worked for me. Of course I had to program them not to draft certain undesirables (more on that later).
My roster is as follows:

  • C Scott Gomez

  • C Brad Richards (Alternate Captain)

  • LW Markus Naslund

  • LW Alex Tanguay (Captain)

  • RW Marian Hossa

  • RW Milan Hejduk

  • D Chris Pronger

  • D Dick Tarnstrom (Alternate Captain)

  • D Brent Sopel

  • D Adam Foote

  • G Nikolai Khabibulin

  • G Jocelyn Thibault

My bench will look like this:
  • C Doug Weight

  • LW Ladislav Nagy

  • RW Shawn McEachern

  • G Patrick Lalime

And of course some home team guys:
  • LW Cory Stillman

  • D Andrew Hutchinson

It's tough to put Cory Stillman on the pine, but that's just to start the season. I should be able to interchange him with Tanguay and Naslund without dropping off at all. I picked up Huthchinson just for funsies. I doubt he'll ever get any fantasy playing time unless his regular season starts off as fantastically as his preseason went. Big Joe is still available, but they're listing him as a Center. Barring a series of horrid injuries, he wouldn't have much of a chance to start on my squad.

I looked at the draft results, and our commish had a bad draft. And it looks like he forgot to put certain people in the "don't draft" list. He ended up with Hepatitis Boy and Ilya Kovalchuk on his squad. Not good.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Canes top Bolts in preseason finale

For the second night in a row, Niklas Nordgren scored a shorthanded tally en route to a 5-2 thumping of the host City of Tampa Lightning.

My guy Josef Vašíček (I did that for you, Jes Golbez) added two more goals, raising his preseason total to seven. Cory Stillman had assists on both of his goals.

Andrew Hutchinson continued to have a fantastic preseason, adding an assist on a Rod Brind'Amour goal in the second period that proved to be the game winner. I'm starting to get a little worried, though, because we don't have him under contract.

Both of Tampa's goals came on the power play, and both came on the tails of a Carolina goal. Their first score, by Ruslan Fedotenko, came at 17:55 of the first, only :27 after Matt Cullen had scored for the Canes. Their second, by Pavel Kubina, came at 1:37 of the second. It was during that same Tampa power play that Nordgren had his shorthanded marker just :29 seconds prior.

In the inconsequential shootout, Brind'Amour led off with a goal, and everyone else was shut down.

Cameron Ward had a very good game between the pipes, stopping 18 of 20 shots he faced . He also pitched a shutout during the shootout. He will be a very good backup netminder, and he might even find himself in the #1 role by season's end. He won't win the Calder, and he won't win the Vezina, but if there was a trophy for rookie goaltenders, he'd win it.

After the game, the final cuts were made. It was no surprise that Danny Richmond and Andrew Ladd were sent down. Ladd will need some injury recovery time anyway. It came down to LaRose or Nordgren, and the youngster (LaRose) got sent down. This is the right choice, in my opinion. We would have lost Nordgren to his native Sweden if we hadn't kept him on the big club. LaRose didn't have to go through wavers, so it was safe to cut him. Eventually, he'll be a fine player, but another year in Lowell will suit him fine.

The Canes are back in Raleigh and will have practice Sunday, Monday and Tuesday before heading back to Tampa for opening night. Our home opener is Friday night versus the Pens.


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