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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

canes, river rats on tv tonight

Tonight the Hurricanes will play the Rangers in the fifth game of a six-game homestand.

While the Hurricanes attempt to extend their hot streak, their top minor league affiliate Albany River Rats will be playing a game against the Rochester Amerks. That game will be part of the NHL Network's AHL coverage.

I won't be able to watch either game, but I'll have the dvr working overtime.

As expected, Tim Gleason will not play tonight. The good news is that defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (ankle) has a good chance of playing.

The other good news is that Tuomo Ruutu (henceforth referred to as "Rudy" or "Rooty" or "Ruuty") will be back in the lineup. Our friend The Sliding Pokecheck has a great post about the amount of character this guy is already displaying. There's also a great picture of him at a press conference yesterday. Looking like Frankenstein's monster, but with a huge grin on his face like he couldn't be happier.

He'll play with a cage mask tonight. At least he'll attempt to play.

Eventually, I'll have a NHR post about the completely ridiculous display of asshattery last night in a college basketball game. In brief: In the Duke/Georgia Tech game, a GaTech player took a charge and hit his head against the floor very hard. He was clearly, clearly concussed. Instead of being taken to the room, he sat on the bench with his eyes rolling around in his head. He sat there for a while, then was SENT BACK INTO THE GAME by their idiot coach. On the floor, he looked worse than he did on the bench. His eyes were rolling and fluttering. He was shaking his head and rubbing his eyes, trying to remove the cobwebs and regain his focus. It was a completely asinine move by the coach, putting the boy's health in very serious jeopardy. His mother was in the stands, and I hope she went to kick the coach's ass after the game.

Anyway, both the Canes game and the River Rats game begin at 7:00. The Rats are on a bit of a streak of their own, and it should be a treat to watch.

As far as the Canes game is concerned, it will be another Staal/Staal matchup and a chance for Canes fans to lustily boo Sean Avery.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ruutu's debut

Tuomu Ruutu has said that he'll remember his first game as a Hurricane for the rest of his life. He was picked up at the airport by Hall of Famer Ron Francis. The two of them rode to the arena in a cop car, presumably with sirens blaring, barely in time for the 7:00 game.

In his second shift, he blistered Colin White with a humongous hit. He tallied an assist on the first Samsonov goal. He also suffered an injury when he was clipped by Hepatitis Boy's stick. Here's the video of his Hurricanes debut, which includes the hit that knocked Tim Gleason out of the game:

Ruutu did not practice today, and is listed as "doubtful" for Thursday's game. However, he met with members of the media today and had a difficult time wiping the smile from his face. He's happy to be here, and so far we're very happy with him.

Hockey night in blogdom

Slap Shot, the New York Times hockey blog has invited one blogger for each NHL team to contribute to the blog. Today, the second round of questionnaires was posted on the blog. They asked all of us to rate the trades involving our teams. The question was simple. "Did your team prosper, or did it get jobbed?" We were asked to keep our comments incredibly succinct. 35 words.

Because there were so many transactions, the post was broken into three parts. My contribution appears in Part III.

The whole thing is a very interesting read, and it's been fun. Thanks again to Jeff Klein for putting the whole thing together.

Ruutu's injury update

Late in regulation of the game between the Hurricanes and Devils, Hurricanes newcomer Tuomo Ruutu was clipped by Hepatitis Boy's stick. He was bleeding quite a bit, but he left on his own power, and I assumed that it was just a normal little cut. I even said in an IM chat that he would "take a few butterfly stitches and be okay."

Not quite.

He needed 40 stitches to close the cut that went from the brow above his left eye to his nose. Today, there was significant enough swelling to prevent Ruutu from practicing, and he may have to miss Thursday's game against the Rangers. LSB has more details.

If Ruutu can't go on Thursday, Trevor Letowski will have an increased role. Jeff Hamilton has been assigned to Albany and won't be put through re-entry waivers. He'll stay there, and the Hurricanes won't be calling anyone else up.

There isn't any word on Tim Gleason yet. He took a baseline test this morning and sat out of practice with a "headache". That's got concussion written all over it. That's not god news for Canes fans. Gleason has been one of, if not THE best defenseman for the Canes over the past few months. Just as no forwards will be called up, neither will a defenseman. The Hurricanes will stand pat with what they have and hope for the best.

With a five point lead and sixteen games to play, Carolina can hope that even with this ever-growing list of injuries, they can limp to the finish line ahead of Washington and Atlanta.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Carolina solves Brodeur, keeps hot streak going.

On Tuesday night, Carolina defeated New Jersey 2-1 in overtime to get a much needed two standings points. This was a huge test for a team playing without its Captain for the rest of the season. Carolina answered the challenge and then some.

Earlier this month, Carolina lost two ugly games in Newark. They also lost an ugly game at home to the Devils in January. In all, the Canes were 0-3 against the Devils and were outscored 15-3. Carolina was trying to avoid the sweep. They were also trying to protect their five point SE lead. They were also trying to continue their hot streak at home, and their hot streak overall. They accomplished all of that.

Carolina's newest member, Tuomu Ruutu nearly didn't make it. After being traded for Andrew Ladd, Ruutu's flight from Chicago to Raleigh was delayed for several hours. His flight finally landed 36 minutes before gametime. He was given a police escort to the arena, and he was dressed in time for the puck drop.

Right away, he made a mark. He delivered a huge hit in just his second shift. The rest of the first period was chippy. Defenseman Tim Gleason left the game with a "head injury" after being boarded. A scuffle ensued, then later in the period a fight and some other extracurricular activity.

Afer a scoreless first, Bret Hedican got the second period off on the wrong foot. Just as he did against Washington on Saturday, a committed a miscue which led directly to a goal. This time, he deflected a Brian Gionta shot into his own net. Gionta was given credit for an unassisted goal at 1:50 of the second. His "shot" from the right circle would have been well off net, but Hedican's stick redirected it off the left post and in.

Sergei Samsonov leveled the score at 5:57 with a power play goal. After some good stuff at the points from Matt Cullen and Joe Corvo, Keith Aucoin snuck down low and took a shot from the right dot, which was handled by Martin Brodeur. Samsonov jumped right on the rebound and wristed it in from the top of the goalie crease. Ruutu got the secondary assist. His first point in his first game with the Canes.

The rest of the second was a defensive battle, and the third was more of the same.

Ruutu was caught by an inadvertant high stick late in the third, which opened a cut above his nose. If it had been detected by the officials, it would have been a four minute minor. However,it wasn't. Credit the officiating crew for refusing to give a "make-up" call. I'm not, and never have been a fan of that.

The game went into overtime, and the Canes knew that at the very least, they would get one standings point.

Just 1:36 into the bonus frame, Samsonov struck again. He accepted an awkward bank pass from Scott Walker along the right wing, handled the bouncing puck and took a shot on Brodeur. The shot was handled, but the rebound was not. Samsonov tapped it into the left corner for the win. Walker and Hedican got the helpers.

Samsonov was, and continues to be amazing. He's now got five (3/2) points in his last three games. In 22 games with Carolina, he has 18 (9/9) points. He earned the first star.

The "official" and the RBH three stars are identical:
THIRD STAR Tuomo Ruutu, CAR --- 1 assist, 3 hits, 2 blocked shots, 2 takeaways
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR --- win, 23 saves
FIRST STAR Sergei Samsonov, CAR --- 2 goals, GWG, 2 takeaways

Washington got ahead early and won their game, which put pressure on Carolina. The big win for Carolina does so many things, but the most important is that it helps them maintain a five point cushion in the SE division with just 16 games to play.

This was the fourth of six straight home games for Carolina. They have gone 3-0-1 in those games. They have gone 7-0-1 in their last eight home games, and they have gone 7-2-1 in their last ten games overall. Right now, they are a flaming hot team. Included in that is the 5-1-1 they have gone since Captain Rod Brind'Amour tore his ACL.

The Canes will take on the Rangers on Thursday, then will finish the homestand against the new-look Lightning on Saturday.

On March 12, there will be a special treat when Carolina visits Chicago. By then, Kevyn Adams is expected to be back in the Blackhawks lineup. If all goes well, the former Canes Kevyn Adams, Craig Adams and Andrew Ladd will be in the lineup. They might even be on the same line.

Canes and Hawks swap players again.

For what seems like the hundredth time in the past three seasons, the Hurricanes and Blackhawks made a trade.
In what was a very long time coming, Andrew Ladd was traded away for a centerman. Carolina made a deal in the 2004 Entry Draft, trading up to get Ladd with the fourth overall pick. Expectations were high, and the hope was that he would be a power forward.

In Ladd's short career, he's been hampered with injuries and a much slower than expected development. It's become evident that he's not going to be an upper echelon player. At least not in Carolina. He's been more of the "role player", and his size and strength are wasted in that capacity. Coach Peter Laviolette tried putting Ladd on the top line, the second line, just about everywhere. Unfortunately, nothing has worked. Ladd has brief flashes, but most of the time it's just frustrating.

Partly for Andrew, and partly to fulfill on of Carolina's needs, he was shipped today to Chicago for center Tuomu Ruutu. Admittedly, I knew very little about Ruutu. Just that he's Finnish and that his brother has a reputation for being dirty.

Ruutu can play center or right wing, isn't afraid to hit, and is good for about 40 points a season.

After the trade went down, Ruutu's flight from Chicago to Raleigh was delayed substantially. The News & Observer was reporting that he would arrive in Raleigh at 6:30 and wouldn't have time to make it to the rink for the game. Apparently his flight landed at 6:24, and he was given a police escort from RDU airport to the arena. It's only about 10 miles, but a difficult task to make that trip during rush hour.

Ruutu made it to the arena (barely)in time, dressed, and had a heck of a game. He led the Hurricanes with three hits. He led the Hurricanes with two blocked shots. He had two takeaways, one assists, and finished with a +1 rating. He also earned the third star of the night.

More MSM love for RBH

The New York Times has decided to give Red and Black Hockey some love. It's not the print edition, but it's still the New York Times.

I've been invited to participate in another roundtable discsussion of sorts. The New York Times hockey blog Slap Shot asked one blogger from each NHL team to be a part of an ongoing Q&A deal. The first installment of Southeast division bloggers is here.

Thanks to Jeff Klein from the Times for putting the whole thing together.
I don't know how long this thing will be going on, but so far, I'm digging it.

Please go on over there and see what the other bloggers have to say.

The Pacific Division and Atlantic Division are also up.

Keep checking back to the Slap Shot blog for more "Hockey Night in Blogdom".

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Canes crush Caps, widen lead

On Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes handily defeated the visiting Capitals in what had been dubbed their "biggest game of the season". The "four point swing" game, coupled with a loss by Atlanta means that Carolina has some breathing room at the top of the Southeast division.

Earlier in the day, I wrote about how Alex Ovechkin has been quiet for the last three games. He wasn't quiet today. He notched three points, all assists, bringing his season total to 81 (48/33) points. Against the Canes, he has nine (5/4) in six games.

If a time traveler had told me that #8 would have a huge game tonight, I would naturally have assumed that he meant Alex Ovechkin. Without a doubt, Ovie had a big game. However, he wasn't the #8 who really shone tonight.

Matt Cullen notched two goals and an assist for the Hurricanes to bring his season total t0 43 (11/32) in 49 games played. His heroics earned him the first star of the game.

For the first ten minutes of the first period, Carolina looked flat. Washington came out jumping, and the shot totals were 11-1 in the opening minutes. The puck stayed in Carolina's end for almost the entire time. Thankfully, the Hurricanes snapped to it and got their "A" game going.

Mike Green got the visitors on the board at 6:06 of the first after Bret Hedican made a horrible defensive play in his own end, leading to a 2-on-1. Ovechkin had the only assist.

At 13:30, Carolina scored their first of four (!) power play goals. Matt Cullen fired a shot from the high slot, beating Kolzig. During the power play sequence, one of the Caps defensemen broke his stick and also blocked a shot with his ankle. It was virtually a five-on-three. Ray Whitney and big Joe Corvo got the helpers.

Alex Semin gave the Caps their second lead of the night at 16:13 on a power play, firing one top shelf from the high slot. Ovechkin, who had been knocked off his pegs by Eric Staal, and Tomas Fleischmann assisted.

3:43 into the second period, the Hurricanes tied it again on another power play goal. Joe Corvo's shot from the left circle was blockered down by Kolzig, but the rebound was too juicy. Cullen jumped on it at the left inside hash marks for his second marker of the game. Corvo and Ray WhitneyErik Cole and Corvo got the assists.

Carolina notched yet another power play goal at 5:56 to take the lead. Briefly. Ray Whitney's shot from the top of the left circle was blocked, but the big rebound was hacked at by Staal, then Cole. Staal and Whitney got the assists, but Matt Cullen deserves a tertiary assist. Seconds before the Whitney shot, Cullen made a sprawling move to prevent a Caps clearing attempt. He kept it in the zone, rotated it over to Corvo, then the Whitney shot.

At 8:47, the Caps knotted the score again when Brooks Laich beat Cam Ward with a wrister from the high slot. Ovechkin and Green assisted on the power play goal.

Eric Staal put the Canes back in front at 16:39. He jumped on a loose puck at the bottom of the left circle and shoved it in for what turned out to be the game winner. Tim Conboy and Andrew Ladd Sergei Samsonov and Tim Conboy got the assists on the even-strength goal. That goal gives Staal 30 for the season.

Andrew Ladd cleaned up some loose change at 3:50 of the third for his ninth goal of the season. Tim Conboy's shot from above the right circle was stopped by Kolzig, but Ladd was parked by the right post to shove in the rebound from point blank range. Conboy and Samsonov got the helpers.

Finally, Joe Corvo scored a power play goal at 7:44 of the final frame. It came on the front end of a high-sticking double minor. Corvo came out of nowhere to pounce on the rebound of Eric Staal's left circle shot. It was Corvo's third point of the night and his first goal in a Hurricanes sweater. He now has 32 (7/25) points on the season. Of those, five (1/4) have come in the six games he's played with Carolina.

Originally, Ray Whitney was credited for three assists, but later the scoring was changed so that he had two. Also, Andrew Ladd lost two assists in the shuffle. He went from a three (1/2) point night and being an "also ran", to having a one goal night.

I had named Whitney as one of my stars, but the scoring changes sort of rained on that. Tim Gleason didn't have any scoring points and ended up as a -1, but he should be given some love for his outstanding play in his own end. Five blocked shots!

On any other day, I would have no problem giving the third star to Alex Ovechkin. Three assists is a very good night. However, three Hurricanes players had three points apiece, and since they won the game, they got the official and the RBH stars.

THIRD STAR Eric Staal, CAR --- GWG, 2 assists, 3 hits
SECOND STAR Joe Corvo, CAR --- 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 takeaways, 2 blocked shots
FIRST STAR Matt Cullen, CAR --- 2 goals, 1 assist, 11/12 (92%) faceoff wins

Carolina has three games left on this homestand and 10 of their remaining 17 games are in the friendly confines. They have been a very dangerous team at home, going 6-0-1 in their last seven. They will be seriously tested on Tuesday when Martin Brodeur and the Devils come to town.

Patrick Eaves was rumored to have been slated for insertion in the lineup for this game. He did not play. He didn't practice on Friday and isn't ready yet. In post-game interviews, coach Peter Laviolette denied ever having said that Eaves would be ready. There is still no word on when he'll play.

Glen Wesley was injured in the first period and didn't return. There's no word on the type or severity of the injury. Just that he didn't feel right.

In other division news, Atlanta lost to Toronto. As if it wasn't already certain enough, I'd say that the loss will push Don Waddell's hand to deal Maid Marian Hossa to a contender.

There should be some exciting moves in and out of the SE division. There's still a chance that Carolina is a buyer, especially in light of Rod Brind'Amour's injury. The biggest moves, though, will be Marian Hossa out of Atlanta and Vaclav Prospal out of Tampa. The clock is ticking.

Canes-Caps have late afternoon date

Today at a really awkward time of the weekend day, Carolina and Washington will square off at the RBC Center. Heading into the game, Carolina has a four point cushion over the Caps, but the Capitals have three games in hand.

Carolina leads the season series 3-2 and has won the last two games between the teams.

In the five games between the teams, Alexander Ovechkin has been simply en fuego. He has six (5/1) points, including two two-goal performances. The last time the teams met, he was kept off the scorecard. That has been happening a lot lately. Ovechkin hasn't tallied a point, and is a -5 in the last three games. JP over at Japers' Rink thinks that this has nothing to do with the arrival of Ovie's new girlfriend, who he met over the internet. There's a correlation between her arrival in town on February 7, and his virtual disappearance from the scoresheet. Correlation, not causation. Who knows whether she's wearing him out in the sack, or if he's daydreaming about her during the game, but he's gone ice cold. He may have snapped a scoring slump with the ladies, but the Capitals aren't paying him for that kind of scoring.

Carolina can only hope that hockey's answer to Jessica Simpson shows up at the RBC Center sporting one of these:

Carolina will be without their captain for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. Rod Brind'Amour suffered a knee injury in the first minute of play on February 14 against the Penguins. Including that game, the Hurricanes are 3-1-1 without their Captain. In that time, Eric Staal has recorded seven (2/5) points. We'd really like it if Staal stepped up the same way Evgeni Malkin did when Crosby went down, but we Canes fans are pretty happy with what he's done.

This is a huge game for both teams. If Carolina can win this game outright, they can widen their lead over the Caps to six points, which takes the games in hand out of play.

Olaf Kolzig is calling this "the biggest game of the year." Mike from DC One-Timer is calling it "the most important game the Caps have played in the last 2 1/2 years." I'm guessing the Caps will have their game faces on. Will Carolina have theirs? One of the problems Carolina has had this season is consistency. They'll play an amazing game, a full 60 minutes of hockey one night, then come out flat the next game.

Eric Staal knows that this is his team now. He does all that "this is a team sport; it's not about one guy" stuff with the press, but he knows, and we all do, that it's on him now. He's capable of making it happen, and the rest of the guys are capable of stepping up their game in the face of adversity. Now is the time.

Carolina is 5-0-1 in their last six home games. Washington is 3-2-1 in their last six road games. The Caps will be playing on the front end of a back-to-back, while Carolina will be off until Tuesday.

We'd like to welcome DC One-Timer to the fray. As always, check out the excellent coverage around the Caps blogosphere from Off Wing Opinion, Japers' Rink, A View From The Cheap Seats, and from the owner himself, Ted's Take.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Miracle on Ice

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the most important event in United States sports history. It's not too far-fetched to say that it was one of the most important events in the history of this nation.
I'm referring, of course to the Miracle on Ice. The day the United States hockey team improbably beat the Soviet Union 4-3 in the semi-final of the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Soviets had won four straight gold medals and hadn't been challenged at all in the interim. They lost one game to Czechoslovakia in the preliminary round at the 1968 games and they were tied by Sweden in preliminary play at the 1972 games. They were the prohibitive favorite to win gold again. The United States was not projected to even qualify for the medal round.

Under the brilliant direction of Herb Brooks, USA hockey reinvented itself with an emphasis on training. They were built specifically to beat the Soviets.

The economic and political climate in the United States at that time was, to put it kindly, rough. The dollar was weak, unemployment was high, we were in the middle of an enormous grain and fuel crisis. Our President, Jimmy Carter, had lost control of his country. We had 52 American diplomats being held hostage by extremists in Iran. The US Ambassador to Afghanistan was kidnapped and murdered by Islamists. In short, Americans did not feel good about themselves or their country domestically or abroad.

The US team made a surprising run through the preliminary rounds and found itself against the dreaded Soviets in the semi-final. Despite their hard work getting to that point, nobody thought that team USA had any chance to win the game. They had been demolished in a "friendly" game just a week before the games started.

On that Friday afternoon, a miracle happened.

I remember watching the game. Even before the game, NBC made the decision to air it during prime time on tape delay. This was, of course, before Al Gore invented the interwebs, so everyone was watching it as if it was live. Anyway, I was an eight-year old boy living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I watched the game and was mesmerized by it. Hockey was completely foreign to me at that time, but that game planted the seen in me. I knew, even then, that I would one day be a big-time hockey fan.
I remember for weeks following that game, sliding around the linoleum floor of the kitchen in my sock feet, pretending I was skating. I had fashioned a "puck" out of duct tape and used a yard stick as a hockey stick. Why not a broom stick? I don't know. I chased the "puck" around the kitchen, firing slapshots at the sliding glass door, shouting "USA! USA! USA!" and "Eruzione scores!" A few years later, I broke that same glass door throwing rocks at a trash can outside in the driveway.

That's one of my favorite memories of my childhood. Sliding around the kitchen floor pretending to be Mike Eruzione. I have very few vivid memories of Christmases and birthdays, but that one is never going away.

As an eight-year old boy, the political ramifications of that sporting event were lost on me. I don't think any of us, even the adults, knew right away just how important it was for the psyche of this country. It didn't take long, though. Finally, we had something to be excited about as Americans. To say that spirits were buoyed would be a massive understatement.
We were still in the middle of a hostage crisis. That situation got much worse before it got better. We were still in the middle of a fuel crisis and a farming nightmare. Unemployment was still sky-high and our confidence in our President and in ourselves was still very low. For a while, though, we forgot about all of that, and we were proud as hell to be Americans.

Carolina wins big game, Laviolette passes Brooks

On Thursday, the Hurricanes defeated the listless Thrashers 5-3 to widen their lead in the SE division. Atlanta came out as flat as they were when they played that awful game on Long Island. Carolina got a very well rounded game, getting goals from five different players.

Sergei Samsonov got the memo about the rules change concerning kicked pucks. His goal in the second period might have been disallowed under the old "distinct kicking motion" criteria, but was allowed under the new rule.

Scott Walker had a huge game, registering the game winning goal and two assists. Ray Whitney, Ryan Bayda and Keith Aucoin had the other goals.

With the win, Peter Laviolette has 220 NHL coaching victories, which allows him to pass the late Herb Brooks on the list of coaching wins by US-born coaches.

Speaking of Herb Brooks, today (February 22) is the 28th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice. Let's all take off our hats in honor of that.

Carolina will have another huge game on Saturday against Washington, with a chance to really distance themselves from the pelloton. All indications are that the Hurricanes will have Patrick Eaves in the lineup for the first time on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kick it!

The GMs had their meeting down in sunny Florida, and they walked away having made a couple of changes. One, a pretty big one, will take effect immediately.

No, the nets are not getting bigger. We're not going to see Esurance ads on player sweaters. We're going to see a drastic change to the rules about kicked-in goals.

We all know that a goal will be disallowed if there is a "distinct kicking motion" which propels it into the net. Rule 39.4 (iv), relating to video review, reads:
Puck directed or batted into the net by a hand or foot. With the use of
a foot/skate, was a distinct kicking motion evident? If so, the apparent
goal must be disallowed. A DISTINCT KICKING MOTION is one
which, with a pendulum motion, the player propels the puck with his
skate into the net. If the Video Goal Judge determines that it was put
into the net by an attacking player using a distinct kicking motion, it
must be ruled NO GOAL. This would also be true even if the puck,
after being kicked, deflects off any other player of either team and
then into the net. This is still NO GOAL

Rule 49.2 says pretty much exactly the same thing, but says that a puck that is first kicked, then touches any player's stick shall be ruled a good goal.

Anyway, this rule will be changed. From now on, a puck CAN be kicked into the net. According to Luke Decock's article:
As long as the player's skate remains on the ice, he can turn his skate or even slide his skate to redirect the puck. That guideline replaces the "distinct kicking motion" previously used for rulings.

Basically, this means that we will see fewer disallowed goals. Whereas now, the officials look for knee flexion and foot thrust to determine "distinct kicking motion", they'll now look to see only if the skate is on the ice. On the ice, good. Off the ice, no good.

I don't understand why the rule is being changed during the season. I guess the War Room is getting tired of getting calls about kicked-in goals.

Hurricanes snatch consolation point from the jaws of shutout

On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes were on the brink of being shut out by the visiting Bruins, but managed to earn a standings point.

For the entire game, Boston had just a little more jump than the Canes and carried a 2-0 lead into the final 70 seconds of play. Zdeno Chara scored at 4:51 of the first on a power play goal assisted by Marco Sturm and Marc Savard. From below the right circle, Sturm centered a pass that Chara got the re-direction on. A moment later, Thomas made a dazzling save on a Ray Whitney breakaway, and the tone was set.
The tone was also set by some fighting and other rough stuff in the early going.

Tensions eased in the second period, but the Bruins made it 2-0 on a Savard power play goal from the top of the right circle at 14:28. Dennis Wideman and Andrew Ference assisted.

In the third period, Andrew Ference and Scott Walker took back-to-back matching penalties after exchanging recipes with each other. While they were in the adjacent penalty boxes, they probably discussed everything from Russian literature to deep sea fishing.

In a scene that was reminiscent of the December 18 game against Toronto, the Hurricanes scored two very quick goals with the goalie pulled.

Ray Whitney got the first at 18:57 of the third when he took a pass from Andrew Ladd in the left circle. Eric Staal got the secondary assist.

Erik Cole electrified the crowd just 20 seconds later with a goal from the same spot Eric Staal had a nice wrap chance that was denied by Thomas at the right post, but Cole tucked in the rebound.

Cole had a wonderful chance to win in the overtime period, but couldn't make it happen.

In the shootout, two Bruins scored while the first two Canes came up empty. In the first round, Sturm missed wide left and Matt Cullen hit the left post. In the second round, Phil Kessel scored five hole and Sergei Samsonov's backhand shot was saved by Thomas. David Krejci scored glove side, and the bottom of the third wasn't necessary.

Carolina can be happy that they persevered and got a point out of nothing. For the second time in the last three games, they have rallied from two goals down in the third. This should be a confidence builder for a team that seriously needs any boost they can get.

Ryan Bayda, Bret Hedican and Erik Cole were all "questionable", but all played. Jeff Hamilton did not play. Defenseman Tim Conboy played on the fourth forward line in his stead, but only got four shifts.

Peter Laviolette has apparently told the team not to come to the rink at all tomorrow. The locker room will be closed. They need to stay home, rest up and be ready to play Atlanta on Thursday night.

By getting the one standings point, Carolina widened their lead in the SE to three points over Atlanta and Washington. Atlanta will be idle on Wednesday while the Capitals will be at home against the Islanders.

The "official" three stars went to Ray Whitney (third), Tim Thomas (second) and Marc Savard (first). I have it a little differently. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Anrew Ference, BOS --- 1 assist, 4 blocked shots
SECOND STAR Eric Staal, CAR --- 2 assists, 3 takeaways, 3 hits
FIRST STAR Tim Thomas, BOS --- 45 saves, win

Staal was very impressive in taking control of the game in the clutch situation, assisting both goals. This is exactly what the Hurricanes need from him now that Rod Brind'Amour is out for the season. This is his dress rehearsal for the day when the C becomes his.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Ryan Bayda becomes the flu's latest victim

Carolina Hurricanes third line left winger Ryan Bayda was sent home from practice today because he was sick. Here's the list of players already out of the lineup for tonight's game against the Bruins:

C Rod Brind'Amour (out for the season -- ACL)
LW Justin Williams (out for the season -- ACL, MCL)
C Chad LaRose (out for the season -- broken leg)
D Dennis Seidenberg (ankle)
W Patrick Eaves (shoulder)
D Bret Hedican (lower body)
D David Tanabe (concussion)

From the sounds of the reports this morning, LW Bayda will be unable to go, making the count eight.

In addition, the following players are sick with flu-like symptoms, but will probably play anyway, but will be unable to give 100%:
RW Erik Cole
LW Ray Whitney

There's a reasonable chance that Carolina could only have nine forwards available tonight, and that's counting Wade Brookbank.

Center Joe Jensen was called up from Albany on Monday, only to be hospitalized by illness during the game. He was reassigned to Albany, but sent home to bed.

This will be the first of six straight home games for the Canes, who have won four home games in a row.

Washington and Atlanta, who both trail the Hurricanes by two standings points, are idle tonight. Florida, who is four points back, is at Pittsburgh.

Puck drop is at 7:00. No local TV coverage.

Red Wing nation pushes collective panic button, then breathes collective sigh of relief

On Monday night, the Red Wings and Avalanche met for the final time this season. Both clubs were mired in losing streaks. Detroit ended their six-game losing streak, but suffered an injury to their Captain. Despite the "worst-case scenario" cryings from the Winged Wheel nation, Nicklas Lidsrom is only expected to be out for a week to ten days with a minor knee injury.

The Red Wings entered the game clinging to a narrow 18-point lead in the Central division and were able to give themselves some much needed breathing room with the win over their most hated rival. While they're happy to have won the game, they're more concerned right now with the fact that they have just become the only team in the history of the game to see one of its star players get injured.

After reading around some of the Wings blogs, it's clear that most of the "ZOMG, it's the end of the world!" posts were hastily written before details were available, but it still reeks of hubris to whine about a minor injury, as if that kind of thing can't possibly happen to the Red Wings.

Part of the uproar stems from the fact that Lidstrom was hurt by an Avalanche player, and some are viewing the hit from Laperriere to be dirty.
Part of the uproar also comes from the fact that the Red Wings blue line was already banged up going into the game. Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall are both out with injuries.

This is far from a "worst-case scenario". Rafalski is day-to-day with a sore groin. Kronwall is about a week away from returning from a shoulder injury. Lidstrom is not expected to be out for more than 10 days.

As expected, Aaron Downey went out and got some of that "frontier justice" stuff by going after Laperriere once in a fight and once in an open-ice hit. After the game, Downey, who has barbells for brains, delivered what has to be the quote of the year. From the Detroit Free Press:
"(W)hat you’ve got to do is, you’ve got to have a good head on your shoulder and you don’t want to put your team in jeopardy even though you’d like to go out there and run (Ryan) Smyth or you’d like to run one of their skill guys. Sure it’d be good to go out there and goon the guy, but that’s not hockey. Let’s play good, hard, passionate hockey like they did in the Roman times. I’m not going to run their guys to prove a point but you know what, I’ll go out there and get him back. Fair justice is fair justice."

Yeah. Who can forget that epic championship series between Capri and Naples back in 23 BC? Augustus Caesar had four goals in game seven alone.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Illness, Devils pound Carolina.

In a rare lunchtime game, the Devils trounced the Hurricanes 5-1 on Monday. This is the second time in as many visits to the Devils' new arena that the Canes have been thoroughly beaten.

With Erik Cole feeling the effects of the flu, Carolina had to make an emergency callup. Two weeks ago, they acquired forward Joe Jensen in a prospect trade with the Penguins. The Canes had no choice but to call him up, but things did not go well for him. Jensen became ill during the game, and by the time the game was over, he was so violently ill that he required hospitalization.

After receiving IV fluids and other treatment, Jensen was released and will fly to Raleigh to join the rest of the team.

Carolina will play host to the Bruins on Tuesday. No word yet on whether Cole will be back or if someone else will be called up to take Jensen's spot.

This is getting ridiculous.

The Bruins last played on Saturday, a 4-3 overtime loss at Toronto. In their last seven games, they are 2-4-1 and have been outscored 23-15.

Carolina is 4-3 in their last seven games, and have been outscored 22-16.

The two teams met last Tuesday in Boston. In a 3-2 Hurricanes victory, Sergei Samsonov had the game-winning goal against his former team.

Canes-Devils play matinee

Today is a federal holiday in the United States, which means weekday matinee games!

There are two matinee games on the docket, and the one I care about is between the surging Carolina Hurricanes and the Atlantic-leading Devils. The Devils have won three of their last four, and Carolina is on a three game winning streak.

Carolina is hoping to take a page out of Pittsburgh's book, and use the injury of their captain as inspiration. So far, the rest of the team has stepped up, but it's just been 1.99 games since Brind'Amour got injured.

The second wave of flu is still hanging around. Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason and now Scott Walker are all feeling its effects. Corvo and Gleason have been in and out of the lineup and there haven't been any callups, so I have to assume that they'll play.

Puck drop is 1:00. Set your DVRs.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Garnet Exelby loses his mind

In Saturday's game between the Islanders and the Thrashers, the Thrashers were down 4-0 in the third when Garnet Exelby simply lost his mind.

After getting checked into the boards by Blake Comeau, Garnet Exelby skated behind Comeau and went on a frustration-fueled rampage. First, Exelby speared Comeau in the balls, then choked him, then punched him. Take a look for yourself:

The punching would be fine, except that they were not engaged in fisticuffs.

Exelby was given two minutes for slashing, although clearly the infraction was "spearing". He was also given five for fighting and a game misconduct. This might be the only time I've ever seen a fighting penalty go to one player only. I guess that's where the game misconduct comes in, although there would have been one anyway if the initial call had been "spearing" rather than "slashing".

I hope the league takes a good look at this and sits Exelby down for more than the standard two games. His actions were malicious and outside the bounds of hockey.

There were about a million fights in the game between the Canucks and Oilers, and there was one nasty stick-swinging incident, but this is a little more disturbing.

For once, there's not a Flyers player doing something dumb.

Canes win barn burner, reclaim SE lead

On Saturday night, the Hurricanes defeated the Panthers 5-4 with a dramatic three goal outburst in the third. The win marked the third win in a row, which matches Carolina's longest winning streak of the season. It is also their fourth straight home win.

Atlanta played a horrible game on Long Island, getting beat 4-1. The Carolina win and the Atlanta loss means that the Hurricanes have sole possession of first place in the division. The Capitals won on Saturday, and they remain two points behind Carolina, tied with Atlanta. The Capitals have one game in hand. Florida is four points back. Tampa is eight points back, but have two games in hand. The division is still anybody's for the taking.

Time-Warner Cable of Greensboro really didn't want me to watch hockey. As I sat down to watch the game, I discovered that my Center Ice package wasn't working. Every channel had a message -- "This channel is temporarily unavailable". Also, the NHL Network was displaying the same message. Then, because my computer is all messed up and the Canes don't have radio coverage in Greensboro, I had to rely on NHL.com for "realtime" updates. It's not the best in the world, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Finally, a few hours later, I got to see the highlights on the NHL Network.

Wade Brookbank, Sergei Samsonov, Eric Staal, Trevor Letowski and Ray Whitney all scored for the Canes. Brookbank, Samsonov and Letowski all got tip-ins by working hard and crashing the net. Staal worked his butt off for his goal after getting knocked down behind the Panthers' net. The game winning goal by Whitney was set up beautifully by a cross-ice backhand pass from Joe Corvo. In two games played, he has two assists, and he's looked pretty good.

Nathan Horton scored twice for the visiting Panthers, including once on a penalty shot.

This was the 14th time in a row the Panthers have lost at the RBC Center. This time, they can't blame the officials. Carolina had a goal disallowed. Florida had a penalty shot goal. They can't blame the "diving" Canes. They have nobody but themselves to blame for blowing a two-goal lead in the third period. The defense allowed some weird angle shots to get through, and Vokoun gave up the juicy rebounds, and Carolina was putting themselves in the right position to get the odd rebounds and tip-ins.

Since I didn't see the whole game, I can't possibly come up with three stars. I'll have to rely on the "official" stars.
THIRD STAR Sergei Samsonov, CAR -- G
SECOND STAR Eric Staal, CAR -- G, A
FIRST STAR Ray Whitney, CAR -- GWG

Clearly, Andrew Ladd needs some love. He had two assists, and he's got seven (3/4) points in his last five games. With Brind'Amour and Williams out of the lineup for the season and Cory Stillman traded away, Andrew Ladd is one of the guys who will have to step up. So far, he's seizing every opportunity. Clearly, the onus is on Eric Staal to be "the man", but everyone else is gonna have to get bigger.

Coming down the stretch, Carolina has a good chance to help themselves. They have an overwhelming majority of their remaining games at home, and for the first time all season, they'll regularly have more than one day off between games. This homestretch in the tight SE race will be tough. Injuries are working against Carolina, but the schedule is working with them. If they can dig deep and find some of that "whatever it takes" stuff, they'll be in the driver's seat for the homestretch. I think they can.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cullen back in lineup

According to Rachel Carter over at the N&O, Matt Cullen will be in the lineup tonight against the visiting Panthers.

He has been working with optometrists and other specialists to try to correct the blurred vision that he was experiencing after his "nose" injury in late December. The Hurricanes never said the words "concussion" or "post-concussion", but the prevailing non-professional opinion is that he suffered a concussion.

One of the things they worked with to help Cullen is skating with a smoked glass visor. Like the one Luke Skywalker Jeff Hamilton uses. There's no telling how much we'll see Cullen or whether he'll wear anything other than his normal visor.

Patrick Eaves has not been activated and will continue to pile up the man-games lost to injury by the Hurricanes.

No word on Joe Corvo or Tim Gleason, but the 6'6" defenseman Joey Mormina was reassigned to Albany, which is a good indicator that one or both will be available.

In other key matchups in the tight Southeast division, Tampa will be taking on Washington while Atlanta plays outside the division against the Islanders. Carolina will be rooting for the Bolts and Islanders to both win in regulation. Of course, the Hurricanes need to take care of their own business, but with some help, they could open a small lead.

Busy day at the RBC Center

The Hurricanes share their arena with the NC State Men's basketball team. A couple of times a season, there will be a basketball/hockey twi-night doubleheader. Today is one of those days. NC State finished their basketball game at about 4:45 and the Canes game starts at 7:00. The ice needs to be ready well in advance of that for the skatearound.

The changeover crew busts their collective butt to pull up the basketball floor, reconfigure the lower seating bowl, remove the buffer between the ice and the basketball floor, reinstall the dasher boards and the glass, put up the protective netting, then adjust the temperature of the building. Unless I'm terribly mistaken, the temperature is maintained at 68 degrees for a basketball game and 63 degrees for a hockey game. There are other details too, but this is a lot to accomplish in less than two hours. I think they once did the whole thing in under 45 minutes.

I don't want to think about the nightmare that the parking lot becomes while they empty it and refill it in quick fashion.

Right now, I'm keeping an eye on the RBC Center webcam, which updates once every 60 seconds. It's pretty enthralling.

Injury list: the return of the hogs

Last season, I used a bit of humor to demonstrate the depth of Carolina's injury woes. This season, Carolina has again been bitten hard by the injury bug, and I'll use the same trick to demonstrate.

The Canes have NINE! players currently injured. Rod Brind'Amour, Chad LaRose and Justin Williams are done for the season. It's looking more and more unlikely that David Tanabe will return. The good news is that Joe Corvo, Tim Gleason, Patrick Eaves and even Matt Cullen are "possible" for play tonight. No word on when Dennis Seidenberg will return from his ankle injury.

19 Hurricanes players have missed games due to injury or illness. Even newcomers Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves have already missed games. Here's the laundry list, complete with pig graphics:



The following players are no longer with Carolina, but lost these man-games while they were here:

In addition, these players are lost for the season. Tanabe's total is listed as 25 because he hasn't been ruled out for the season, but it doesn't look like he's gonna return. It mas as well say 47 games. For LaRose, Brind'Amour and Williams, the totals reflect the fact that they'll be done for the rest of the regular season:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Carolina's injuries

I just did an informal count of Carolina's man-games lost to injury this season, and I came up with 197. Last night, Brind'Amour wasn't counted in the tally since he played in the game, but he missed one game earlier, and he will definitely miss the remaining 22 games. So will Chad LaRose and probably Justin Williams. Add those 66 to the mix, and Carolina will have lost a bare minimum of 263 man-games. It doesn't seem likely that David Tanabe will ever return from his concussion, and Matt Cullen's return isn't likely to be soon. Patrick Eaves is still a few games away. There's no certainty about any of those, but for sure there will be 263 man-games lost, plus whatever else happens down the stretch.

It's likely that Carolina's total will be 300 or more, which is what I guessed yesterday.

The year Tampa won the cup, they lost 45 man-games to injury. That's it. They managed to stay impossibly healthy again the next year, but since then they've had their share.

I don't know about the totals for the other teams around the league, but I would imagine that this 197 so far has to be near the most in the league.

Tomorrow, I'll have a fully detailed post about the injured players. Just like the one I did last season. For now, here's a sneak preview. Players currently injured are indicated in bold:

Erik Cole : 8 games
Andrew Ladd : 19 games
Trevor Letowski : 2 games
Scott Walker : 23 games
Ray Whitney : 3 games

Joe Corvo : 1 game
Tim Gleason : 1 game
Bret Hedican : 12 games
Nic Wallin : 14 games
Glen Wesley : 3 games

Matt Cullen : 16 games
Patrick Eaves : 2 games
Chad LaRose : 7 games (done for the season)
Dennis Seidenberg : 16 games
David Tanabe : 25 games
Justin Williams : 24 games (done for the season)
Rod Brind'Amour : 1 game (done for season)

Cory Stillman : 3 games
Mike Commodore : 17 games

In addition, I think there was a time when some of the Carolina call-ups got injured or sick, but the above listed 18 players are full-time NHLers.

Tomorrow, look for a fully detailed post about this.

Canes win big game, lose Captain

On Thursday night, the Hurricanes defeated the visiting Penguins by the score of 4-2. Incidentally, I predicted this final tally, and won four shots for my soothsaying awesomeness.

On a much darker note, Carolina may have won the game and reclaimed first place in the Southeast division, but they have lost their Captain. On the first shift of the first period, Rod Brind'Amour sustained an injury to his knee which turned out to be a torn ACL. He's done for the season. By the time this season is done, it's likely that Carolina will have 300 or more man-games lost to injury. I'll get to work on finding an exact number, but I'm guessing that it's somewhere at or above 200 already. Justin Williams, Chad LaRose and now Rod Brind'Amour are done for the season. Matt Cullen has been on the IR for some time and his return is not looking that great right now.

On top of all that, the Hurricanes are dealing with a second bout of the flu. After six or more Hurricanes had the flu back in January, it looks like it's reared its ugly head again. Tim Gleason and newcomer Joe Corvo have contracted the flu and sat out on Thursday.

No matter.

The Hurricanes played with the hand that was dealt them, and they played it well. With no less than four AHL-quality players already in the lineup, they lost Rod Brind'Amour in the game's first minute, but rolled with the punches and emarged with an impressive 4-2 win over a weary Penguins team.

The game was not a part of my season ticket package, but a friend of a friend hooked me up with some corporate box seats with free food and booze. It rocked. So there I sat in a corporate box with two friends of mine who are both Penguins fans and a complete stranger (the one who hooked us up) who is a Sabres fan. I enjoyed.

We got an extremely late start on our drive, but I was very impressed with the Sabre fan's ability to make a one hour drive take about 38 minutes. We missed the first minute of the game, and Brindy's injury.

Erik Cole got the good guys off and running at 3:13 with a tip-in of a right point shot from Ray Whitney. With Jordan Staal in the penalty box for kneeing, Carolina won the faceoff and Whitney's shot was directed in by Cole. Jeff Hamilton got the secondary assist.

Public Enemy #1 Brooks Orpik evened the score at 13:00 of the first. He uncorked a shot from the outside hashmarks of the left circle, and it beat Ward cleanly. Colby Armstrong and Jarku Ruutu got the helpers.

In the second frame, the Penguins took the lead at 2:38 when Evgeni Malkin notched his 33rd goal of the season. His shot from the left circle apparently caromed off Frantisek Kaberle's stick. The goal was unassisted, but I thought Ryan Malone and Sergei Gonchar deserved helpers.

At 10:36, Eric Staal got the equalizer while his little brother was in the box again. Ray Whitney's point shot was tipped by Andrew Ladd and stopped by Dany Sabourin, but Staal picked up the loose change in the low slot and wristed it home. Originally, the helpers went to Whitney and Kaberle, but in the end, Ladd was given the primary assist and Whitney the second.

The third period was all Canes.

Ray Whitney put the home team in the lead at 3:49 of the final stanza when he made a really nifty maneuver through the slot and beat Sabourin for another power play goal. Maxim Talbot (not Jordan Staal) was the party in the box feeling shame this time. Eric Staal and Frantisek Kaberle got the assists.

At 11:39, Ryan Bayda (who is one of many Albany River Rats call-ups) notched his first goal of the season by firing one in off the right post and in from the slot. Scott Walker and Glen Wesley assisted on the even strength goal.

Earlier in the day, I commented to my Penguins fan friend that the Hurricanes power play was listless. I even said to him that they could do whatever they wanted to us and we wouldn't capitalize on our power play chances. Boy was I wrong. Carolina cashed in on three of their six chances.

To start the game, Carolina was already missing three key defensemen and two forwards. Then they lost Brind'Amour for the season. They still put up one of the best outings of the season against an admittedly tired team. Carolina put 46 shots on net, blocked an amazing 22 shots and laid out an eye-popping 32 hits.

The "official" three stars went to Frantisek Kaberle (third), Eric Staal (second) and Ray Whitney (first). I didn't quite see it that way. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Glen Wesley, CAR --- 6 blocked shots, 4 hits
SECOND STAR Ray Whitney, CAR --- GWG, 2 assists, 2 takeaways
FIRST STAR Eric Staal, CAR --- 1 goal, 1 assist, 59% faceoff wins

Eric Staal is going to have to do more of what he did tonight. He took the game on his shoulders. He took the faceoffs that Brindy would have taken, and he won them. He scored a key goal and assisted on the game winner. From this point forward, with the Captain out of the lineup, the team is Staal's.

When the Canes and Penguins met last week, Jordan Staal had one assist and Eric had nothing. This time, Eric had the much better game. Eric's goal came while Jordan was in the box, and Jordan was in the box for one of Carolina's other goals. He finished with an abysmal 24% (4 out of 17) faceoff win percentage.

On a different day, I'll plan to post about how I think Canes fans need to get over the Orpik hatred.

On another different day, I'll plan to updated the Staal v Staal v Staal points race.

On another different day, I'll plan to outline the Hurricanes injury woes.

I'll probably get to those posts in reverse order.

For now, the Canes are happy that they're in first place, but devastated that they've lost their Captain for the remainder of the season.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On Patrick Eaves

One of the parts in the four-player swap the other day, the one that I like the most, is Patrick Eaves.

In Eaves' short NHL career, he has tallied 71 (38/33) points in 157 games. Not too bad for a 23-year old kid playing in the shadows of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.

Carolina fans might not remember it, but Eaves scored his first NHL goal in dramatic fashion against the Hurricanes. The Canes will hope that he scores many for them.

Eaves has something in common with Erik Cole. Both players have suffered a fracture of the C-5 vertebra. Cole's came on March 5, 2006 when he was boarded by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Eaves' happened on December 7, 2002. He was accidentally closelined by a teammate's stick and missed 20 games of his freshman season at Boston College.

Eaves was a 2005 Hobey Baker award finalist, and was the Hockey East player of the year that same year.

He is recovering from a shoulder injury, and skated in practice today. He is not expected to make his Hurricanes debut until at least next week.

Eaves will be donning the number 44. The only other Hurricanes to wear that number have been Kent Manderville (1997-1999) and Niklas Nordgren.(05-06). Manderville tallied 29 (10/19) points in 214 games for the Canes while Nordgren registered 6 (4/2) in 43 games.

Mike Commodore will be wearing Eaves' old 44 sweater in Ottawa.

Canes and Sens swap players

I went out of town Monday for a very short business trip (and a night of ridiculous depravity) , and I missed a very big thing. Carolina sent winger Cory Stillman and defenseman Mike Commodore to the Senators for young winger Patrick Eaves and defenseman Joe Corvo.

There's an unseen ramification of this which I don't like, and I'll get to that later.

A friend who is a Penguins fan, not knowing that I was on the road, called to ask me what I thought of the deal. "What deal?" I feared that he was going to say that Erik Cole was part of some lame package, but this one I kind of like.

Immediately, I thought that Stillman is (a)slumping big-time (2)a UFA-to-be, and (III) getting up there in age. The Canes get a much younger guy with a ton of potential. I've seen him play a few times, and I've seen him pot goals against the Canes. I know what he can do. I'm pretty excited about this addition. For the future, I mean. For now, even a slumping Cory Stillman is better than an injured Patrick Eaves. Still, I'll take the kid.

I'm more excited about Joe Corvo. Carolina gives up a decent stay-at-home kind of defenseman who is given to taking bad penalties late in the game. In return, they get that puck-moving defenseman they've been wanting. They get a guy with a heavy shot that he's not afraid to use, but they also get a guy who makes some outrageously dangerous passes. One of my rubs against Commodore has always been that he's often too busy checking the rear-view mirror instead of going after loose pucks in the corner. He brings a level of intensity and on some level, some brawn, but absolutely no offensive upside. In that respect, Corvo, albeit four years older, brings more. Both players make lots of mistakes, but Carolina gets what they need. Corvo is signed thru 2010, whereas Commodore is a UFA-to-be and is due for a big raise. Corvo was unhappy in Ottawa, largely because of the overly scrupulous media. He'd been asking to be dealt to an American team, and he's gotten his wish.

The Senators are adding some scoring punch to (presumably) their second line, but they're losing some scoring from the back end. They're also getting a couple of guys who have won the Cup. Carolina adds some offensive production and some puck movement from the blue-line, but they give up one of their leading scorers. When the salaries for this season only are figured in, the Senators save about $500k, but they'll have to pay Commdore big bucks next season.

When it's all said and done, both teams benefit, and it's pretty hard to say who benefits more. I'm happy with what the Canes got, and moving forward, they'll probably have the better end if they re-sign Eaves.

Here's the unseen ramification. Mike Commodore wasn't just a fan favorite and a general goofball. He was Chad Sharpie LaRose's best friend. Poor Chad isn't going to have anyone to hang out with anymore. Something tells me that Joe Corvo isn't going to fill that role.

In Tuesday's debut with Carolina, Joe Corvo recorded an assist on the game-winning goal. Patrick Eaves is recovering from a shoulder injury and won't play until next week at the earliest. Cory Stillman had an assist for the Senators in his debut on Tuesday. Mike Commodore was a non-factor.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Get well, Richard Zednik. Scary incident at HSBC.

While I was busy watching UNC extend its 53-year home winning streak in college basketball against Clemson, I missed a grisly scene in the Sabres-Panthers game.

Richard Zednik was cut in the neck by the skate blade of teammate Olli Jokinen in the third period of action with the Sabres leading 4-3. Zednik was cut deeply and was bleeding profusely, but skated to the bench under his own power.

The players on both teams and the fans stood in stunned silence as the game was delayed for 15 minutes. Longtime Sabres fans must have been reminded of that horrible incident with Clint Malarchuk back in the Aud in March of 1989. With reference to that, Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret said "I'm afraid I have (seen that much blood), but I don't like to recall it."

Thankfully, the medical staffs of both teams worked to stop the bleeding before rushing him to a local hospital. As of now, he's in stable condition.

I have issue with the fact that the game was resumed. According to what I've read, the indications are that referee Bill McCreary gave Jacques Martin the option, but I don't think there should have been any question. The game should have been suspended or called. I'm sure the Panthers players would have been okay with even ending the game right then. I don't think any of them, or any of the Sabres for that matter, could focus completely on finishing the game.

There's no telling what this will mean to Zednik's season or career, but all of that is secondary to his health right now.

What makes this even more frightening is that it happened just one day after linesman Pat Depuzzo was cut in the face by Steve Downie's skate in Philadelphia.

RBH wishes all the best for a full and speedy recovery for Zednik.

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.

Canes reclaim first place with road win in DC

On Friday night, the Hurricanes climbed back into first place with a 2-1 victory over the Capitals. With 25 games to play, Carolina has a narrow one point lead in the Southeast division. The good news for the Hurricanes is that 15 of those games are at home and they have a lot of space between games. In the first half of the season, Carolina played most of their games on the road, and they had a bunch of "three games in four days" scenarios.

The game was deemed (by me, anyway) as a "must-win". A loss would have put Carolina three points back of the Caps and in fourth place in the SE.

Coming out of the all-star break, Coach Peter Laviolette told the boys to play as if the next seven games were a playoff series. Five games into this "series", the Canes are 3-2 with road games tonight at New Jersey and Tuesday at Boston. After that, they will have eight out of nine at home.

In the first period of action on Friday, there was a lot of intensity. Two fights, lots of hitting, and some scoring for the good guys.

Erik Cole scored an eye-popping goal to remind us who that #26 guy is. At 3:56, he finished a play that can only be compared to that shootout goal that Peter Forsberg scored in the 1994 Olympics. He was sprung with a pass off the right wing wall, turned on the jets, avoided some backchecking, dragged the puck from his backhand to the forehand. Brent Johnson, who got the mystery start in place of Olli the Goalie, bit on that move, sliding all the way to his right. Cole pulled it back to his backhand and one-handed it in the empty net. I've seen Rick Nash do that in a shootout. We saw Jussi Jokinen do it twice in shootouts. I've never seen a player make that shot in live action. The goal made the #1 play of the night on NHL Network. Enjoy the highlight:

Officially, it was Cole from Cory Stillman and Frantisek Kaberle at 3:56. Milan Jurcina was the defenseman Cole blew past, and he made a last-ditch effort to poke the puck away, but he lost his stick in the process. Although no referee was indicating penalty, if Cole hadn't scored, he might have been awarded a penalty shot. As he finished the play, Jurcina's stick slid across the ice. Whether it was thrown or just got loose, I don't know, but it doesn't matter anyway.

Cole was more than a goal scorer in the first period. He laid the wood to Alex Ovechkin a couple of times. At the end of it all, he had four hits.

At 14:47 of the first, Carolina's 2004 first round pick Andrew Ladd potted his sixth goal of the year to make it 2-1. Sergei Samsonov led the way with the Canes on a 3-on-2 break. Rod Brind'Amour was with him on the right wing and Ladd was coming down the middle. From the right circle, Samsonov just put a hard shot on net. The juicy rebound went right to Ladd in the low slot where he basically just put his stick on the ice to get the goal. This would prove to be the game winner.

The second period was pretty much a wash after Carolina dominated the flow of the first period.

Cam Ward lost his shutout bid at 9:44 when Alex Semin finished a hard-working play to cut the lead in half. The Caps were dictating the flow of the third, and they had some great sustained pressure deep in the Carolina zone. After working hard behind the net, Semin went out to the right circle. There was a ton of traffic in front. Semin shot, then followed his own shot with a stuff in from near the right post. The goal was unassisted.

There were some nervous moments coming down the stretch, but Carolina held on for the regulation win.

For only the eleventh time all season, Alex Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet completely.

The "official" three stars went to Cole (third), Semin (second) and Cam Ward (first).
I have it differently. The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Andrew Ladd, CAR -- GWG
SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR -- win, 33 saves
FIRST STAR Erik Cole, CAR -- goal, 4 hits, 2 blocked shots

Carolina will be in the Devils' new building tonight, playing the fourth of five straight road games.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Arena naming rights in the NHL

About a week ago, I warned that I was going to write a very boring and pointless post about the naming rights on the arenas in the NHL. Here it is.

It all got started a few weeks ago. In a span of one minute, I saw a TV ad for Scottrade, then heard a radio ad for Nationwide insurance. Those are two companies with naming rights to NHL arenas, and it got my brain churning. Truth be told, I was already sort of thinking about this anyway, but it got the ball rolling.

There's something funny about that Nationwide ad, though. Next time you hear one of their ads on the radio, pay attention to the disclaimer at the end. Part of the disclaimer is "Coverage not available in all states". Nationwide insurance, then, is not available nationwide. Go figure.

Some of the arena names raise a few eyebrows and a few snickers, but I promise you that some of those names aren't as funny as they seem at first. Most have very strong ties to their local communities, even if the name suggests otherwise.

  • ANAHEIM--Honda Center. The Japanese automaker has US headquarters in Torrance, CA.
  • ATLANTA--Philips Arena. The Dutch electronics manufacturer has a distribution center in Atlanta.
  • BOSTON--TD Banknorth Garden. The Canadian bank Toronto-Dominion does business in the northeastern US as TD Banknorth. The US company has its headquarters in Portland, Maine. This name has little to do with Boston.
  • BUFFALO-- HSBC Center. The Hong Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation is globally headquartered in London, but does its US business out of Buffalo.
  • CALGARY--Pengrowth Saddledome. Pengrowth is a huge oil and natural gas company based in Calgary.
  • CAROLINA-- RBC Center. The Canadian banking giant has its US headquarters (known here as RBC/Centura) in Raleigh.
  • CHICAGO-- United Center. The airline has its world headquarters in Chicago.
  • COLORADO-- Pepsi Center. The soft drink company founded in North Carolina has a regional office in Greenwood Villiage, CO, just a few miles from Denver.
  • COLUMBUS-- Nationwide Arena. The insurance company which does not offer plans nationwide, is headquartered in Columbus.
  • DALLAS-- American Airlines Center. The airline is headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth.
  • DETROIT-- Joe Louis Arena. One of the few remaining sports & entertainment complexes that is free of corporate tags. The legendary boxer for whom the arena is named was from Detroit.
  • EDMONTON-- Rexall Place. The pratcically defunct US-based pharmaceutical company is operated in Canada by the Katz Group. This group is based in Edmonton, and they just arranged the purchase of the Oilers.
  • FLORIDA-- Bank Atlantic Center. This bank is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • LOS ANGELES-- Staples Center. The office supply chain is headquartered in Framingham, MA. They have 20 Staples stores in the Los Angeles area. Unless I'm missing something, that's as deep as the connection gets.
  • MINNESOTA-- Xcel Energy Center. Xcel, the energy company which serves eight US states is based in Minneapolis.
  • MONTREAL-- Bell Centre. The Canadian telecommunications company Bell Canada is based in Montréal.
  • NASHVILLE-- Sommet Center. The arena is named for a group of companies called the Sommet Group. The group is based in Franklin, TN, just outside of Nashville.
  • NEW JERSEY-- Prudential Center. The financial services company is located in Newark, NJ.
  • NEW YORK ISLANDERS-- Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The building is in Nassau County, NY, and is publicly owned.
  • NEW YORK RANGERS-- Madison Square Garden. The original Madison Square Garden sat at the north end of Madison Square Park on the corner of 26th Street and Madison Avenue. The current MSG is on 7th Avenue, is no longer adjacent to Madison Square Park, but the name remains. Plans are in the works to build another new arena, the fifth. This is one of the few buildings without a corporate name.
  • OTTAWA-- Scotiabank Place. After the Ottawa-based software company Corel failed to renew their sponsorship, the Torontop-based Scotiabank bought the naming rights. This is one of a few that seems backwards or wrong in some way.
  • PHILADELPHIA-- Wachovia Center. This is one of the few that is a victim of corporate buyouts. Between 1996 and 1998, the building was named for CoreStates Bank, which was a Philadelphia-based regional bank. The bank was purchased and it merged with FirstUnion, a Charlotte based bank. After that, First Union was bought up by Wachovia, which is also based in Charlotte. Although it seems goofy, there are still ties to Philadelphia. You just have to look hard to see them.
  • PHOENIX-- Jobing.com Arena. Named for an employment website based in Phoenix.
  • PITTSBURGH-- Mellon Arena. Mellon was a money management firm based in Pittsburgh. It has been bought and merged with the Bank of New York. No word on if it will be renamed.
  • SAN JOSE-- HP Pavilion. The computer hardware giant is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.
  • ST. LOUIS-- Scottrade Center. The on-line discount brokerage firm is based in St. Louis.
  • TAMPA--St. Pete Times Forum. Named for the newspaper.
  • TORONTO-- Air Canada Centre. The Canadian Airline is based in Montréal, but Toronto is its largest hub.
  • VANCOUVER-- General Motors Place. The US-based automaker has its Canadian headquarters clear accross the country in Ontario. As far as I can tell, there aren't any GM manufacturing plants in Vancouver or anywhere else in BC
  • WASHINGTON-- Verizon Center. When Verizon purchased Ashton, VA based MCI Telecom in 2006, they also took over the naming rights for the MCI Center.

    At the end of the day, the only ones that don't make any sense at all are the Staples Center and General Motors Place. Most of the others have a very strong connection between the name of the arena and some company with major business in the area.

    Carolina will have another day off on Thursday, and unless there's a major trade, I don't anticipate writing anything that has anything to do with actual hockey.
  • Preds survive Hurricanes, tornadoes

    After defeating the Hurricanes 1-0 on Tuesday night, the Predators and their fans were told that they couldn't leave the arena due to tornado warnings. NHL.com reported that thunder claps and tornado warning sirens were audible. Mid-way through the third, with the game still knotted at zero, there was some talk that perhaps they would evacuate the building and suspend the game.

    In my game recap, I mistakenly reported that the Capitals had leapfrogged Carolina into first place in the SE division. What I messed up was that the standings had already been updated. As of now, Carolina still has a tenuous one point lead in the division and the Caps have two (not one) games in hand.

    They will use one of those two games in hand tonight against the Flyers. Carolina fans will be reluctantly pulling for the Flyers.

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008

    Carolina loses game, LaRose, SE lead

    On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes and Preds ended up locked in a goaltending duel. The red light only came on once during the game, and the home team emerged with a thrilling 1-0 victory.

    The first two periods were, frankly, mundane. I had very little reason to even stir as I sat on the couch. I could have been reading, or doing my taxes, or working a cryptoquote or whatever. Neither team was able to mount any sustained pressure against the other. Both goaltenders were stopping everything and not giving up rebounds.

    In the third period, Nashville had a clear advantage in time of possession and the puck stayed in Carolina's end for nearly the entire 20 minutes. Cam Ward really shone in the final frame, turning aside some high-quality chances.

    The impasse ended when the former Sabre JP Dumont finished a three-on-one rush. The time of the goal was 11:59 of the third, and it was assisted by Jason Arnott and Alexander Radulov, who had a six-game goals streak heading into the game.

    That goal would be the only one.

    The shutout means that Carolina hasn't scored a goal in 111 minutes and 33 seconds. It also means that they are 0-4 on the road against the Central Division. They lost 4-1 to the Blue Jackets, 5-2 to the Red Wings, and suffered the same 1-0 fate at the hands of the Blues. Their chance to save face will be March 12 against the Blackhawks.

    Chad "Sharpie" LaRose suffered a freak injury in the first period. On his first shift, he was going hard after a loose puck behind the Preds net. He couldn't stop and went hard, feet-first into the boards the same way Sidney Crosby did. He has suffered a broken leg and will be out for several weeks. Cue Brandon Nolan.

    Carolina got one bit of good news on the bad night: Atlanta lost in regulation. However, the Capitals won their game, which puts them one point ahead of Carolina in the standings, and with a game in hand.

    Carolina will have a chance to make it better as their five game road swing continues in our nation's Capital on Friday night. They will have the opportunity to climb back into first place. If they lose in regulation, they will fall even further behind.

    The three stars of the game Tuesday are pretty easy. The hard part is ordering them. The official stars went to Cam Ward (third), JP Dumont (second) and Chris Mason (first). I'm gonna give my boy more credit than that. The RBH three stars:
    THIRD STAR Jean-Pierre Dumont, NAS --- GWG
    SECOND STAR Cam Ward, CAR --- 33 saves
    FIRST STAR Chris Mason, NAS --- 31 saves, shutout

    There is no doubt about it. Carolina is in a "must-win" situation on Friday. Washington will be using their game in hand tomorrow night against the high-flying Flyers in Philadelphia. Obviously, Canes fans will be rooting for the Flyers.

    On another note, it was 72 degrees today, but it's still WAY too early to think about planting tomatoes.

    Canes visit Bubba

    On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes will visit Bubba for the second of five straight road games. They are coming off a 4-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

    This will be the fourth game in the Central division road game series. So far, Carolina has lost on the road to Columbus, Detroit and St. Louis. While these out-of-conference games are generally regarded as "not as important", Carolina will need a win to avoid falling into second place in the Southeast Division.

    The last time Carolina met the Predators was in the year of the Cup. Carolina won in overtime and Tomas Vokoun had a major meltdown afterwards, launching his goalie stick into the protective netting behind him. Of course Vokoun is no longer a Pred, and Josef Vasicek doesn't play for either team anymore.

    This will be Scott Walker's first return to Bubba since he left the Preds in the summer of '06.

    Speaking of the Preds, some idiotic rumor monger (you know which one) is trying to suggest that the Canes are looking to ship Erik Cole to the Preds for Kevin Klein +. Sorry, but I'm not buying that, unless the "plus" means Martin Erat. Klein, who is most famous for starring in "A Fish Called Wanda", "Dave" and "The Ice Storm", has played in only 16 NHL games. This season, he has appeared in 11 games and has recorded two assists. He has been a healthy scratch for the last 11 games, and was scratched for 24 straight games earlier in the season. Although he sort of falls into the "puck-moving defenseman" category that the Canes are looking for, he's just not NHL-ready. Carolina would have to get much more in the "immediate impact" department to make a Cole trade make any sense. Radulov is right out. There are no other forwards who would make any sense.

    I'm just not buying this as a trade deadline thing. Much more likely would be for something to happen with Colorado and J-M Liles.

    Nashville will be playing the third of four straight home games, and they have won the last two.

    For some excellent Preds coverage, please visit On the Forecheck.

    Puck drop will be 8:00 Eastern time, and the game will be broadcast nationally on Versus.

    Saturday, February 02, 2008

    Staal v Staal again tonight

    Tonight the Hurricanes begin a two week, five game road trip in Pittsburgh. Puck drop will be at 7:30. It will be the third meeting this season between Eric and Jordan and it will be the eleventh matchup this season between any pair of Staal brothers.

    In five total games against his brothers, Eric has scored 3 goals and 1 assist. The Hurricanes are 3-1-1 in those games.

    In seven total games against his brothers, Jordan has not scored any points. The Penguins are 3-3-1 in those games.

    In eight total games against his brothers, Marc has recorded three assists. The Rangers are 4-4 in those games.

    Including tonight, Eric and Jordan play two more times. Eric and Marc play one more time. Marc and Jordan play three more times.

    Here's the head-to-head breakdown plus the schedule of remaining games:

    ERIC v MARC (Eric 1/1 - Marc 0/1)
  • December 3 @ NYR -- CAR 4 - NYR 0. Eric had an assist.
  • December 26 @ NYR -- NYR 4 - CAR 2. Eric had a goal, Marc had an assist.
  • January 29 @ CAR -- CAR 3 - NYR 1.
  • February 28 @ CAR -- TBD

    ERIC v JORDAN (Eric 2/0 - Jordan 0/0)
  • October 5 @ CAR -- CAR 4 - PIT 1. Eric had two goals.
  • October 19 @ PIT -- PIT 4 - CAR 3 (SO).
  • February 2 @ PIT -- TBD
  • February 14 @ CAR -- TBD

    JORDAN v MARC (Marc 0/2 - Jordan 0/0)
  • October 23 @ PIT -- PIT 1 - NYR 0.
  • November 11 @ NYR -- NYR 4 - PIT 2.
  • November 17 @ PIT -- NYR 4 - PIT 3 (OT). Marc had an assist.
  • December 18 @ NYR -- NYR 4 - PIT 0. Marc had an assist.
  • January 14 @ PIT -- PIT 4 - NYR 1.
  • March 18 @ NYR -- TBD
  • March 30 @ PIT -- TBD
  • March 31 @ NYR -- TBD
  • Canes beat Leafs in OT

    On Thursday night, the Maple Leafs came in and suffered the same fate as last time they visited Raleigh. Carolina took advantage of an overtime power play to win the game 3-2.

    Jiri (internet porn star) Tlusty got the Leafs on the board at 3:20 of the first. Mats Sundin made a nifty drop pass to Tlusty, who banged it it off the post. Hal Gill got the secondary assist.

    At 13:19 of the second, Timmay Gleason fired a shot from the right point that somehow found its way in the net. It caromed off a couple of players, and there was some review to see if it had been re-directed with a high stick. The final ruling was that it had last hit Leafs defenseman Ian White. Scott Walker and Sergei Samsonov Ray Whitney got the assists.

    At 3:29 of the third, there was another controversial play. Again involving a Tim Gleason shot. He took a shot through heavy traffic from the high slot. Walker had collided with Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala, but there was no interference call made. Walker tipped the puck in, and they again reviewed for a high stick, but again, it came back as a goal, which was consistent with the call on the ice. Gleason and Bret Hedican got the assists. This would later be fodder for a Chairman Mo tirade.

    It looked like the Leafs had tied it when Jason Blake was involoved in a tight play on the goal line. The call on-ice was that the puck never crossed the line. Replays were not conclusive enough to overturn the call, but it sure looked like it might have crossed the line, then been brought back by Ward. This would later be fodder for a Chairman Mo tirade.

    In the waning seconds of the game, the Leafs' captain notched an overtime-forcing goal. Darcy Tucker took a shot from an impossible angle below the right circle. He was doing exactly what you're supposed to do in that situation. He fired it at the net and hoped for the best. Sundin was there, and the shot went off his skate and in. Again, there was a review to see if it had been kicked in, but the goal was rightfully allowed to stand.

    2:34 into the bonus frame, Nik Antropov was whistled for hooking Cory Stillman. Really, it was more like a slash, but either way, it was a stick foul. This would later be fodder for a Chairman Mo tirade.

    At 3:20, Ray Whitney found Rod Brind'Amour alone in the slot, and Brindy potted the game winner from there. Cory Stillman got the second helper.

    Artropov lost his marbles at this point. He came out of the penalty box, launched his stick at the referees and stomped off to the locker room. He was slapped with two game misconduct penalties. The "abuse of officials" carries a mandatory three game suspension.

    The official three stars were Walker (third), Gleason (second) and Brind'Amour (first), but I can't quite do it like that. The RBH three stars:

    THIRD STAR Mats Sundin, TOR --- 1 goal, 1 assist
    SECOND STAR Rod Brind'Amour, CAR --- GWG
    FIRST STAR Tim Gleason, CAR --- 1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 4 blocked shots, 4 hits


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