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

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Devils stomp Canes

On Saturday night in Newark, the Hurricanes had a chance to build off their great effort Friday night and perhaps open their lead a little in the Southeast division. Unfortunately, they didn't bother showing up and were embarrassed 6-1.

After the win against Washington, I was having an IM chat with The Sliding Pokecheck. We were talking about the Devils and how they've struggled to find offense all season long and how Marty Brodeur just isn't the Marty Brodeur that we've seen in the past. I said something like "Like the 2001-02 Hurricanes, they're hoping that they can win every game 2-1, coz they can't score more than that." A few moments later, I said "Now that I've said that, watch them drop a touchdown on us." I had no idea how prophetic that would be. Well, they missed the PAT, but they still scored the touchdown.

The Devils were on the board early. Defenseman Colin White fired a shot from the left point that went through Mike Commodore's legs, off the far side post and in the goal behind Cam Ward. Officially, it was White from David Clarkson and Jay Pandolfo at 3:08 of the first. It was kind of a crazy goal, and it was a harbinger of things to come. Everything went well for the Devils.

At 5:53, another defenseman scored. Paul Martin took a shot from the right circle which hit Cory Stillman's stick in the slot and deflected in the goal, top shelf. Hepatitis Boy and Jamie Langenbrunner had the assists on the power play goal.

Keith Aucoin gave the Canes a brief glimmer of hope with a crazy goal of his own at 10:35 of the opening stanza. He was in the right place at the right time to deflect an impossible angle shot by Scott Walker from behind the net. He was just there by the left post and got a lucky carom. Walker and Andrew Ladd had the assists.

The game pretty much ended at 15:47 of the first. The Canes were killing the final seconds of a penalty when Johnny Oduya was bringing the puck through neutral ice. He detected that nobody was marking him and he had an unabated path all the way to the goal. He charged in on Ward and easily scored as four and a half Hurricanes skaters stood and watched. The goal was unassisted.

Dainius Zubrus scored a power play goal at 17:58 to make it 4-1. This goal looked a lot like Andrew Ladd's goal against Washington on Friday. The Devils were charging in the zone with numbers. Brian Gionta put a shot on net from the bottom of the right circle. The juicy rebound went to Zubrus with no white sweaters anywhere in the same area code. Andrew Green had the secondary assist.

To everybody's surprise, Cam Ward started the second period. Despite giving up four goals, it wasn't because he was playing poorly. The first goal was through a screen and off the post. The second was a crazy bounce off Cory Stillman's stick. The third, he was hung out to dry, and the fourth was just an amazing play by the Devils. At best, two of those goals were Cam's fault.

At 1:29 of the second, Paul Martin scored his second goal of the game and his fifth of the season. Again, it was assisted by Hepatitis Boy and Langenbrunner.

Jay Pandolfo finished a pretty two-on-one rush at 14:41 to make it 6-1. John Madden and Pandolfo rushed into the Carolina zone with Frantisek Kaberle the only Hurricane back. Kaberle laid down to take the left wing shot away from Madden, but he patiently passed to Pandolfo for the finish. David Clarkson had the second assist.

John Crackers Grahame took over between the pipes after the Pandolfo goal and he steered the boys home without crashing into anything else. Huzzah to him for coming off the bench cold and stopping the bleeding.

The defense sucked. The penalty killing was terrible. The power play was awful. Forechecking was non-existent. The penalties were frequent and lazy. Nothing about the Canes performance was good. Nothing. Well, maybe John Grahame.

The "official" three stars were Oduya (third), Pandolfo (second) and Martin (first), but I have it a little differently. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Patrick Elias, NJD -- 2 assists
SECOND STAR Jay Pandolfo, NJD -- goal, assist
FIRST STAR Paul Martin, NJD -- 2 goals (including GWG), 2 blocked shots, 2 takeaways.

On Tuesday, the Hurricanes will conclude the five game road trip and the "pretend it's a playoff series" seven game stretch following the ASG. After winning two in a row at home after the ASG, Carolina has lost three of these four road games. They will have the day off Sunday, then will practice in Boston on Monday before Tuesday's game with the Bruins.

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