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

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Carolina loses game, Cole.

Two games in a row, Carolina has had a chance to salt away a road win. Two games in a row they settle for one point. Two games in a row, they're happy to take it under the circumstances. Two games in a row, they lose a key player.

Scott Walker was lost to a mysterious injury which has only been called a "torso injury". He's in a great deal of pain and could be out for an extended period of time. Tonight, the Canes lost Erik Cole to a pre-game off-the-ice foot injury. Luke Decock thinks the injury happened during a "soccer kick-around". No details are available about the severity of the injury or how much longer he'll be out.

Presumably, Ryan Bayda will be called up from Lowell. And perhaps also Keith Aucoin. The Canes are hurting badly. Later, I'll write something about how hard the injury bug has bitten so early in the season.

Simon Gagne got the Flyers off and running just 5:12 into the game. Danny Briere and Braydon Coburn assisted on the goal.
Just 46 seconds later, Eric Staal tied it up on a power play goal assisted nicely by Jeff Hamilton and Cory Stillman. Again, the Canes employed the five forward system on the first power play unit.

Viva gave the Canes the lead on a nice tip-in at 17:32 of the second. Stillman and Brind'Amour assisted.

Mike Richards scored his fifth goal of the young season to tie the game just 1:32 into the third frame. Kimmo Timonen and RJ Umberger got the assists.

For the next couple of minutes, Philly dominated the pace, getting tons of shots and heavy pressure deep in the Carolina end. Johnny Crackers made a sensational stop on Mike Knuble at 2:41 of the third that would have blown the game open for the Flyers. Later in the third, Tim Gleason made a phenomenal sliding pokecheck to thwart what looked like a sure breakaway by Sami Kapanen.

The Canes had a good chance to win the game with a power play at the end of regulation, but they couldn't make it happen.

The Flyers only needed 48 seconds of overtime to get the winner. Simon Gagne from in close, tipping one past Grahame off the right post and in. I have often criticized Grahame's inability to cover the posts. On a play like this, where a centering pass went across the crease to a player down low on the right side, he needs to get his left skate flush against the right post, but he never does. Nor does he come out to challenge the shooter and take away the angle. He stays deep in the crease, but not tight to the short side post. Too often, this results in shots being banked off his appurtenances and into the goal. In this case, the shot trickled through, hit the post(on the ice), and in. Grahame played well, but this is one of his flaws, and he didn't do anything to improve in the summer. On the flip side, Cam Ward came into camp in much better shape. As opposed to last season, he's exploding from post-to-post, doing a much better job of cutting off angles, and doing a much better job of controlling and directing rebounds.

Beh. Enough of the Crackers bashing.

The "official" three stars went to Eric Staal (third), Scott Hartnell (second) and Marty Biron (first). If I remember correctly, the FSN South three stars went to Simon Gagne (third), Justin Williams (second) and Marty Biron (first). I can't see it that way on either count. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Daniel Briere, PHI --- 2 assists, 2 takeaways, 61% faceoff wins
SECOND STAR Martin Biron, PHI --- 42 saves (18 in the second period alone!)
FIRST STAR Simon Gagne, PHI --- 2 goals, including the GWG.

Carolina will come home on Monday to face the Canucks. It will be the first of three straight home games next week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) followed immediately by a Saturday road game at Islanders.

During the six game road trip, Carolina had to play some very hot teams, and they ran into some very hot goaltending. At the end of it all, they earned eight of a possible 12 points, finishing 3-1-2. That's not bad at all.

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