Canes Give Their Fans a Lump of Coal: Canadiens 5, Hurricanes 1

The Montreal Canadiens came into the RBC on Wednesday night and demolished the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-1.  The visitors scored a powerplay goal just 1:29 into the game and chased goalie Cam Ward less than 10 minutes into the period as they built a 3-1 lead before the home team knew what hit them.  By time the period was over, the score was 4-1 and the game was as good as over.

The Habs would score again in the second period on another powerplay goal, the second time that defenseman Aaron Ward was in the box while a powerplay goal was scored for the opposition.  

Ward did not see the ice again after that penalty and finished with just 7:23 of ice time. 

Coach Paul Maurice juggled the lines a bit and finally seemed to take some players to task for their lackluster play.  Rod Brind`Amour and Scott Walker only had two shifts in the second period and none in the third. Both finished the game with about five minutes of ice time.

Eric Staal was moved off the first line and started the second period with Patrick Dwyer and Jussi JokinenBrandon Sutter, who showed more hustle and determination than any other Hurricane, was moved to the first line and centered Ray Whitney and Tuomo Ruutu.

The changes did not cause any immediate results, but there were several close chances.  Jussi Jokinen was moved to center and Staal was moved to wing.  Will the team continue with that experiment?  How about having Staal play with Sutter as center?

At this point, any change seems worth a try.

Brandon Sutter scored the only Carolina goal of the game and showed great hands when he knocked in a rebound off of a Tim Gleason shot.  The youngster was sniffing around the net all night long and seemed to generate the most chances on the team.  

Head Coach Paul Maurice apparently agreed and said that Sutter was the best player on the ice for the team last night and he showed great leadership.

The coach also said that he took Cam Ward out of the game because he hoped that he could stop the first goal and expected him to stop the third.  The third goal was scored when Sergei Kostitsyn beat Joni Pitkanen down the ice and tipped a Tomas Plekanec pass through Ward's 5-hole.

All fans can do now is wonder why the Hurricanes were out-hustled in their own rink?  Why they would come out flat when they are dead last in the league and keep telling everyone who is listening that they have not given up on the season yet?

As Maurice said in the press conference, the team needs to show it on the ice.  All the talk in the world is not going to change this train wreck of a season.  They need to show up and actually out-work the team they are facing, and they sure did not do it on Wednesday night.

Next up Saturday night will be a hungry Flyers team with a new coach and a new goalie, Peter Laviolette and Michael Leighton.  They just won 5-2 in Tampa Bay as Leighton made 31 saves on 33 shots.

Game Notes:

  • This was one of those games where the shots on goal stat was meaningless.  The Canes out-shot the Habs in every period and ended up with a 47-25 advantage.  Only scoring 1 goal in 47 shots is unbelievable, especially when Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak did not need to break a sweat.
  • Brandon Sutter was tied with the team lead and had seven shots.  Tuomo Ruutu also had seven while Matt Cullen and Joni Pitkanen each had six.
  • Cam Ward finished with four saves on seven shots.  Replacement Many Legace fared a bit better and made 16 saves on 18 shots. 
  • Tim Gleason came close to dropping the gloves, something he simply can not do because his face is still healing.  Mike Maniscalco and John Forlsund were wishing in the post game that someone would have taken the initiative to start a fight, (other than Gleason), to try to spark the team.  The Canes were flat and seemed to stay flat.
  • Andrew Alberts played in his 300th career NHL game.  He leads the team with 124 hits which is currently fourth highest in the NHL.  This includes a team high six from last night.  Ruutu is next on the team with 109.
  • The team had about 25 seconds of a two man advantage, but failed to score.  They ended up 1-5 on the powerplay while the Habs were 3-5.  The powerplay is now rated 29th best in the NHL.  The penalty kill has dropped to 21st.
  • Matt Cullen and Jussi Jokinen had good nights in the faceoff circle.  Cullen was 13 of 18 for 72% while Jokinen was 10 of 14 for 71%.  The team finished up at 60%.
  • Pitkanen led both teams with 29:38 of ice time.
  • Attendance was 14,820 and many had left before the end of the game.  Those numbers are sure to go down unless the Hurricanes put forth better effort than they did for this game.
  • Cory made a good note.  Staal did not take any faceoffs tonight, possibly because of a hand or wrist injury?
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