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

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Big Joe's homecoming -- Preds 5, Canes 4.

On Friday night, the Hurricanes opened their pre-season with a 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators. As if it was all written out by a fabulous poet, Josef Vasicek got the game winner on a short-handed breakaway with about a minute and a half to play in regulation. Vasicek was traded this summer from the Canes to the Preds for Scott Walker. The Preds won't play in Raleigh this season, so it will be a long time before we see big Joe again. I missed my chance to wear the Vasicek 63 sweater one last time.

I wasn't able to make it out to the rink, but Chris (aka Penalty Killer)was there, and offers his game recap. This season, Chris and I have seats that are close enough to each other that we could practically share a tub of popcorn.

It's hard to place much, if any, stock in these preseason games, but the word on the street is that Shane Willis, who is one of several players competing for a final spot on the forward lines, played well. He had one goal and one assist. A lot of brows were furrowed this summer when the Canes signed Willis to bring him back into the organization. He had a good season for the Canes in 2000-01, scoring 44 (20/24) points. However, he was literally knocked out of the playoffs by a brutal Scott Stevens hit. Willis wouldn't return to that series, which Carolina lost. The following season, he was traded to the City of Tampa Lightning in exchange for Kevin Weekes. This would prove to be a very good move for the Canes, who made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002 thanks to the outstanding playoff goaltending of Kevin Weekes. That season, Willis scored a total of 24 points (11/13). Since then, Willis only played in 12 NHL contests. Most people say that he was a promising youngster prior to getting laid out by Stevens, and that he lost a good deal of his "game" with the hit. We're hoping that his play last night is indicitive of a return to form.

Kim Staal (no relation) scored two goals for the Preds, while Scott Nichol, Ramzi Abid and the aforementioned Vasicek got the other Nashville tallies.

Ray Whitney scored twice for the Canes, while Andrew Ladd and Willis had the others.

They used the same format as last preseason -- shootouts in all games. All I know is that Vasicek scored and the Preds "won" the shootout.

Tonight, the b-squad Canes and the b-squad Preds square off in Nashville. I'll be listening on the radio as I participate in my on-line draft.

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