Clicks and Clippings: Life goes on

This Win-Loss tally of 0-3-0 of the past week is hardly the push Carolina Hurricanes' fans were hoping for as the team continues to labor just below the playoff cut, their season record seemingly stuck at or near .500. Lately one website has been getting some notice that gives the statistical take of the Carolina Hurricanes Playoff Chances. Those chances, purely based on numbers, currently stand at less than 25%. While it's certainly still early, it seems many of us have the sense there's a dark cloud hovering which represents a season ending in early April. A three-game losing streak will do that to you, especially after those last two games at home were filled with inconsistencies from both the teams and the officiating. 

So, first I've got a survey of what the Carolina team is saying about its next set of hurdles. Then I've got a look at some really sad-sack stories from each of the Canes next three opponents. Because, in fact, it really could be worse. Much worse.

Adding Offense Begins with Power Play - Paul Branecky, TTS Blog In order to do so and improve a unit that is ranked 27th in the league with a 15.5 percent conversion rate, Maurice said he would look at giving different players more of an opportunity on a set third grouping.

Crunching some numbers to show how badly goals have gone missing, Canes continue search for offense - FS Carolinas Going back to a 2-1 loss to Nashville on Nov. 20, Carolina has netted just 32 goals in 15 games. So the attack-minded approach they entered Sunday’s game with was absolutely necessary to have a chance at beating a team like Washington. 

From the Sunday News & Observer, an in-depth piece on the team's "identity". Nothing comes easily for Canes - NewsObserver.com Early in December, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason surmised the team was still coming together and seeking a collective identity.

"Obviously, we work extremely hard," goaltender Cam Ward said. "We're a little bit of a loose group that likes to have fun, but when you're a loose group you've also got to be focused from the drop of the puck, and that's one of the areas we can still improve upon.

"But we've shown we've been able to stick with it when we put our minds to it and are able to overcome some obstacles. When we face adversity, we can raise up."

 

After the jump, the wrap-up of Gleason on Perreault,  sad tales of the Canes' next three opponents, links and video from the WJC tournament in Buffalo, and why Detroit must be wondering what they did to anger the hockey gods so.

Canes Now - Canes' Gleason discusses 'The Hit' 

"It was just one of those things," Tim Gleason said. "You obviously never intend to go out and hurt somebody ... but I just tried to follow through with my check and I will continue to do so. The call was made and that was the call they thought was right. So life goes on."

This post went up last night right after the game, and if you haven't already, take a look to understand the frustration felt around these parts. Video: Tim Gleason's controversial ejection after hit on Perreault - Puck Daddy 

Finally, some careful analysis of the incident and the rule book from Stu Hackel, (formerly of the NYTimes Slap Shot hockey blog, now at his new blog over at SI.com)  Red Light: Making sense of Gleason’s hit on Perreault.  

It was a shot that sure looked like it targeted the head - despite Hurricanes TV analyst Tripp Tracey's contention - but was not punished under the new Rule 48 that prohibits blindside or lateral blows to the head.

What do you think?

 

This next week

 

While the data is a little old, here are your Aggregated NHL Power Rankings: Week 11 over at From The Rink This week, Carolina's schedule includes the 27th, 28th and 29th ranked teams, and the news around them hardly suggests that holiday cheer permeates the mood of their players or their fans.

 

At TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (Tuesday, 12/28, 7pm)

Eastern Conference Rank 13th,  Record: 13 - 17 - 4, 30 pts, 79 GF, 103 GA (-24 differential) Last 10: 5-5-0, Streak: WON 1

Played in the middle of The Boxing Day Blizzard of 2010 last night, Leafs end skid, dump Devils - The Globe and Mail "I don't know how many fans come to their games anyway," Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. 

Remember, the last time the Leafs played at home, December 20 vs the Atlanta Thrashers, there were waffles on the ice

The storm was so bad the Leafs did not fly out after the game, getting back to the nearby hotel around 3am. Their flight is now scheduled to arrive back in Toronto at 8pm tonight having wasted the day in Newark.

 

At OTTAWA SENATORS (Wednesday, 12/29, 7:30 pm)

9th in the East, Record: 16 - 17 - 4, 36 pts, 86 GF, 108 GA,  (-22 differential) Last 10: 5-3-2, Streak: WON 2

Good news: Impressive win over one of the best teams in the league. Sens best Pens |  Ottawa Sun On Boxing Day, the Senators delivered a knockout punch to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Ottawa goaltender Brian Elliott made a career-high 44 stops and defenceman Erik Karlsson had two goals and an assist as the Senators earned a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh in front of 20,146 fans at Scotiabank Place.

Bad news: However, Ottawa also lost their top centerman, Jason Spezza, for several weeks with a shoulder injury: Spezza gone for long term | Ottawa Sun

 

vs NEW JERSEY DEVILS (Saturday, 1/1, 7pm, in Raleigh)

15th in the East, Record: 9 - 24 - 2, 20 pts, 61 GF, 112 GA  (-51 differential) Last 10: 1-9-0, Streak: LOST 5

Last night's loss to Toronto was the second game under the Devils' new interim former retired/returning coach Jacques Lemaire, who arrived last Thursday, in what appears to be Lou Lamiorello's last ditch effort to save the sinking Titanic. The game included a second period skirmish between multi-gazillionaire enigma Ilya Kovalchuk and Leaf's cursed captain, Dion Phaneuf. Lemaire was not impressed:  Devils coach Jacques Lemaire: We don't need Ilya Kovalchuk to fight | NJ.com. Others referred to it as the Worst Fight of the Year.

Today came the first real practice under the new boss: Fire & Ice: Devils Lemaire puts team to work Lemaire must be starting to understand what John MacLean was going through with this group This is the Devils’ first full practice since Lemaire took over as head coach on Thursday. They are 0-2 under Lemaire, including a 4-1 loss to Toronto on Sunday, and were outscored 9-2 in those two defeats. Tom Gulitti's final tweet from the Devils' practice is pretty graphic: 

After being beat by Patrik Elias (after others also scored) in one on one drill, Martin Brodeur smashed his stick to pieces on crossbar.

 

Like I said, Canes fans, it could be worse.

 

World Juniors Championships: Day 1

Last night's featured game in Buffalo was the defending Champions from the US vs the teens from Finland and included all four of the Canes prospects. Team Finland tied the score at two goals a piece late in the third, but Team USA went on to win it in overtime.

The very first goal for Team USA came late in the opening period, on a power play, with a blast from Justin Faulk from the blueline. Brian Dumoulin impressed many and was paired with Faulk as his defensive partner. Finland's Rasmus Rissanen (drafted in the later rounds by the Canes in 2009 and who participated in the NHL club's training camp here in September) finished with an impressive +2 in the losing effort.

Some basic numbers here: USA vs Finland: Game sheet followed by a couple recaps:

Well… That Was Close : The United States of Hockey I was not in the least surprised in the way the game went. I know there were some that thought the U.S. would blow the barn doors off of the Finns, but anyone that’s seen international hockey before knows that this was a stereotypical Finnish-style game.

Julie Robenhymer: USA Defeats Finland 3-2 in OT - includes a video interview with Faulk

A quick story from last week over at Canes Now - Faulk, Dumoulin 'pumped' about selection, in which we learn that they're not only a D-pairing in Buffalo, Justin and Brian are also roomies.

Finally, video highlights, with USA in white, and Finland in Suomi blue. Faulk wears USA #25, Dumoulin #4. For Finland, Rissanen is in #8, and Tommi Kivisto in #4. 2011 WJC: Finland vs. USA - 12/26 

 

The next game for Team USA will be Wednesday at 8pm, shown on the NHL Network. You can check on the full game schedule for the Americans (all of which will be televised on NHL Network) on the Canes Country Calendar.

Finally, some WJC history featuring a familiar Canadian teen goal tender who only came into the Hurricanes' system last spring.: Forsberg, Subban, Pogge top all-time WJC roster  - NHL.com 

Justin Pogge -- In his only WJC appearance, Pogge shut out Russia to help Canada win the gold medal at the 2006 tournament. It's only the third time a shutout has been registered in the gold-medal game since the current tournament format was adopted in 1996, and was Pogge's third shutout of the event, the most ever for a single tournament. He also had a 151:50 shutout streak, the second-longest in WJC history. His six wins at the '96 WJC are tied for the second-most at a single event.

 

Injury updates

 

In Detroit, Dan Cleary Out With Fractured Ankle - NHL FanHouse. This just happened last night. Before the Christmas holiday, the fans in red had even worse news: Wings reeling after Datsyuk injury - The Globe and Mail Irreplaceable Russian left-winger breaks his hand. Remember veteran Mike Modano is also out for months recovering from sliced tendons in his wrist. When you add it all up, that's a lot of challenge right there.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa returned last week and now we hear Patrick Kane likely to come back tomorrow night for Chicago | ProHockeyTalk

And back here in the Eastern Conference: Sabres lose Derek Roy for the season - The Globe and Mail Buffalo leading scorer to miss four to six months after tearing left quadriceps tendon

Repeating this from above, but relevant to this heading: Spezza gone for long term | Ottawa Sun 

Finally, a glimmer of hope for the third of the Staal brothers: Jordan Staal Skating Again - PensBurgh

Interestingly enough, Staal isn't ruling out a potential return in the Winter Classic, but part of me thinks that is just wishful thinking.  If he's not 100 perfect now, where does he expect to be in four days?  I don't see it happening personally, but if there is one player in the league that makes you doubt even the most definitive judgment it's Jordan. 

 

Home sweet home

Now for something completely different, a Christmas tour of Rod Brind`Amour's home north of Raleigh with cameos from his wife and kids. Beautiful family.


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