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

Friday, February 16, 2007

Canes get crushed, injured

On Thursday night, the Hurricanes lost a game they needed to win. They lost it badly. The score was 4-1, but it wasn't even that close. To make matters worse, they lost two key players along the way, and neither is expected to make an immediate return.

I won't rehash the entire game, but Carolina's play was characterized by bad passing, miscommunication, failure to stay on side, and a terrible effort by the special teams. Going into the game, they had a loose grip on the #7 playoff seed in the East, and they needed to win this one to strengthen their hold. Meanwhile, the Rangers were on the outside looking in; desperate for standings points.

The near-capacity crowd was late arriving. For about the first 10 minutes, the seating bowl looked the way it used to look in 2003. By the end of the first, it filled in. Unfortunately, the guys on the ice never did show up. Cam Ward was the only one present. Even Frantisek Kaberle, who is usually solid as a rock, had a bad night.

To make the outcome of the game worse, two key players are out with injuries. Defenseman Bret Hedican suffered a concussion in the second period. The fact that he didn't return is bad news. This means he'll have to take one of those baseline tests. The players hate these and they usually result in being put on the PUP list. Hedican apparently had a concussion earlier this season, but it was hidden. If that's true, it looks even worse. At his advanced age, two concussions in a short timeframe is very bad news. Suddenly, the overabundance of blueliners isn't an issue anymore. Maybe Anton Babchuk will get called back up. Just a few days ago, he decided to quit being a baby and report to Albany. Then again, maybe JR will send him a message by keeping him down there.

Justin Williams also left the game in the second period with what they're only calling "upper body". According to the N&O, it isn't insignificant. Coach Laviolette would only say that he's "banged up". I don't remember seeing the play on which he got hurt. I just remember not seeing him at all in the third.

Erik Cole and Cory Stillman are already hurt. Now Viva. Three of the Canes top six forwards are out for an unknown amount of time. I don't think that calling up the likes of Dave Gove and Keith Aucoin is the answer. The Canes will have to make a trade. They'll have to do it now. Either that, or they'll have to abandon ship. This is the time to make a decision. There's plenty of cap room and plenty of big name forwards out on the market.

The clock is ticking. February 27 3:00 pm is the cutoff.

Buffalo suffered a huge blow last night, too. They lost Maxim Afinogenov for the remainder of the regular season with a scaphoid fracture and Jiri Novotny for an indefinite period with a tweaked left ankle. Meanwhile, Tim Connolly has suffered a setback and might not play at all this season. Defenseman Jaro Spacek has a broken hand and will be out for at least a few more weeks. Paul Gaustad is out for the rest of the year with an ankle injury. Afinogenov and Spacek are huge cogs in the wheel and the others are more than just "minor players". The problem in Buffalo is that they don't have cap space to play with. Even with a potential salary exemption for Tim Connolly, they won't have any room. I'll defer to a post over at Sabre Rattling on this issue, as they know more than I do.

So the bad news for them is that they've lost all these guys and they don't have any cap room to rent a player. They'll have to rely on Rochester. The good news is that most of them should be back, even Connolly, for the playoffs. It's possible that Afinogenov could have a complicated recovery, but even still, he should return at some point during the playoffs.

How interesting would it be if the Sabres hold onto their 1 seed with a M*A*S*H unit on the ice, the Canes limp into an 8th spot. The injury riddled Sabres would again be up against the Canes in the playoffs.

Carolina has had a "fully healthy" roster for approximately 38 minutes this season. Because of Connolly, Buffalo has had a fully healthy roster for exactly zero minutes.


DrFrankLives said...

Dude, whatever you do, don't go criticize the play of the team last night over on lgc.com. They'll ban you.

You have to be a freaking pollyanna and proclaim the greatness of the effort at all cost. Close your eyes and pretend you're watching last year.

DrFrankLives said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrFrankLives said...

sorry for the double post. weird.

magnolia_mer said...

Crticizing the play is one thing. That's fine with me. The gnashing of teeth and burning of playoff ticket invoices is another.
For crying out loud, we're still in a playoff spot, even if we are hanging on by our fingernails. But with twenty-something games left, people are wailing as if it's already over.

I say let's gut it out with them and see if the new guys and the young-uns get their act together in time.

I don't think the Canes' problem is laziness. It's the combination of having a lot of injured vets with a lot of unseasoned new players that have yet to learn to communicate on the ice.

We can't always rely on Brindy and the Wizard, and Willie was long overdue for an injury. Erik Cole's on borrowed time with that neck of his. Every time he steps on the ice he's risking a life-altering and career-ending injury. So I consider us lucky that we've had him around at all this season.

No one likes to lose, but I can't see the use in pinning our playoff hopes on a couple of trades, firing the coach, yada, yada, yada. Egad, you'd think the Canes had lost every game this season the way people are grousing over there.

The Acid Queen said...

Dude, whatever you do, don't go criticize the play of the team last night over on lgc.com. They'll ban you.

You have to be a freaking pollyanna and proclaim the greatness of the effort at all cost. Close your eyes and pretend you're watching last year.

Far be it for me to defend a site on which I regularly get piled on for daring to say things that people don't like to hear--but for some reason I'm getting the impression that you were the guy that got jumped on for dropping puckbunny smack on a few of the fans that weren't of the "ZOMG TRADE EVERYONE!!!1" mindset.

And if you actually bothered reading the thread, you'd have seen that pretty much everyone--including yours truly--was not at all happy with the lack of effort last night.

But few if any posters on that board are going to scream and whine and cry for trading away the whole freaking roster just because of ONE GAME where the team played like ass.

DrFrankLives said...

one game?

And tell the jackass who accused me of being among those who left the New Jersey game with 21 seconds left that I was, in fact, among those screaming at he schmucks who left.

And because I said the posters who were decrying negative comments seemd like puckbunnies did not mean I was saying they were IN FACT puckbunnies, though I realize similes are difficult things to understand


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