The Hurricane's AHL affiliate Albany River Rats are back at home tonight, hosting the defending champion Hershey Bears in Round 2 of the Calder Cup Series. Down 2-0 in the 7 game series, the local buzz is predicting that some changes on the ice are expected after the team took a day of rest Monday. Forward Jiri Tlusty is day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1, and Stefan Chaput played his first game in four weeks last Sunday, coming off a wrist injury. On the defense, familiar-to-Carolina fans Jay Harrison is guilty of the most penalty minutes of the team paired with the worst plus/minus of -3 since returning from Raleigh. And this year's Hunt Award winner Casey Borer is shining with his league-leading +7 for the playoffs. Jamie McBain and Jerome Samson are at the top of the Albany chart for SOG, with 21 and 20 SOG in the post season respectively.
On the Bears' side of this game, Darren Dreger has tweeted that Hershey's best defenseman Karl Alzner has been recalled to Washington for game 7 due to a significant injury to Tom Poti (eye) in last night's game in Montreal. Alzner was +2, with 3 assists and 6 SOG in the 2 games vs the Rats this weekend.
After the jump, what they're writing about the game in Albany tonight, checking in with former, present and future Canes making news, and a few more links to the world of hockey.
Room for improvement - Times Union, Albany NY Albany to shake up lineup for key Game 3 of series
"They were frustrated," Coach Jeff Daniels said. "Those were two games in a row that we had the lead in the third period and weren’t able to hold onto it. A lot of it was our doing with the penalties and they’re a good team, so we’ve have to regroup here (tonight)."
Hershey Bears head to Albany with 2-0 lead | PennLive.com "We had our chances," Albany defenseman Casey Borer said. "We were leading in the third. We squandered it. We were in a good spot. Both nights we were in a good spot going into the third. We just couldn’t finish the job in the last 20 minutes. That’s what’s frustrating."
This [unrelated] news Albany's hockey fans have been hoping for: Devils to Albany -Times Union. The Devils' AHL affiliate will be arriving this summer, taking over the NY capital district's strong hockey market, and filing the void created with the Rats heading south to become the Charlotte Checkers.
"For me, he's been our biggest surprise, the way he's gotten better as the season has gone on," Coach Jeff Daniels said. "It's a lot of responsibility for a younger player. The message right from training camp was be a complete player. It sunk in with him. Chris has come in and opened our eyes from not being sure what his role was going to be to us being in the playoffs, and he's playing a big role for us."
The Flyers advanced beating the New Jersey Devils in 5 last week. Who is getting a lot of the credit? Peter Laviolette. Explaining what Laviolette brought to the team, this writer doesn't miss the chance to compare Lavi's inspiration to the disappointment that was Jacques Lemaire: Flyers believe in Laviolette's philosophy | Philadelphia Daily News | 04/27/2010 Coaches in the National Hockey League, like loaves of bread, have a short shelf life. They rarely last with one team for more than 3 years.
This piece, written before the Flyers had advanced to the second round, raised a name we know well: PhillyBurbs.com: Boucher knows series is far from over
Laviolette was asked to compare current Flyers captain Mike Richards with the captain he had in Carolina in 2006 - Rod Brind`Amour - when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. "When I had Roddy, he had played like a thousand games," Laviolette said. "Mike is young in his career plus they're different in who they are, in their makeup, how they prepare themselves and how they play. "This is no knock on Mike but Rod is the most devoted guy when it comes to taking care of himself. He leads from example that way. Big games are on the line now and Mike's clearly been our best forward."
While we're thinking about impending coaching changes, Coaching candidates for four open NHL jobs - The Globe and Mail Kevin McCarthy, Kevin Dineen, Boucher lead list of 14 minor-league and assistant coaches who could take over NHL teams.
The Capitals fans are reeling as they look to play game 7 at home tomorrow night against the unexpected force of the Montreal Canadiens' PK and some guy named Jaroslav Halak. A blogger who goes by HomerMcFanboy in this post, It’s now or never for Caps offered some armchair coaching for Bruce Boudreau:
For this reason alone Bruce, gritty forward Scott Walker needs to be in your lineup Wednesday night. Sit Fleischmann. Play Walker. Hell, start Walker and tell him you want him to hit one Habs player for every tooth in his mouth (that’s what? At least six or seven hits, right?)
Some fan-love from the Canucks' fans for Andrew Alberts after being benched for some bad penalties early on in the playoff series vs the Kings. Alberts goes from villain to favorite in Canucks' win - Vancouver Canucks
Uncertainty for Matt Cullen. Fox Sports > Spector > Uncertain Summer for Senators. GM Bryan Murray has attempted to re-sign Anton Volchenkov and is believed interested in keeping Andy Sutton and Matt Cullen, but with Volchenkov in line to receive perhaps as much as $5 million on the open market, plus Sutton and Cullen in line to receive significant raises themselves as UFAs it's quite possible all three could be signing elsewhere in July.
Wuzzup in Newark?
Great analysis on Lemaire's retirement over at SBN blog In Lou We Trust : Jacques Lemaire Retires - What He Did as Coach of the New Jersey Devils & What Next Upon announcement of his retirement today, John Fischer has his reaction and summary of Jacques Lemaire's coaching in 2009-10 while providing a few thoughts on possible replacements.
The Hockey News: Ken Campbell: New Jersey no longer a model franchise What was once a dominating franchise that could repair itself from within now has to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to regain that touch.
This eulogy from Intent to Blow on the Demise of the Devils had me giggling: Devils shake defense-first stereotype by not playing any | Intent to Blow:
Still, Devils Captain Jamie Langenbrunner said getting the defensive monkey off the team’s back was important."It’s a big achievement for sure," he said. "People always say we play ‘boring hockey,’ you get sick of hearing it. Now they can just say we play sh$%ty hockey.
Brandon Sutter: NHL trophy winner in the making?
A hockey stat-geek shows us what numbers correlate to the best defensive forward in this story. Why should you care? Brandon Sutter gets some notice. The Selke finalists: a microstatic look - The Copper & Blue Modern statistical methods provide interesting insights into the relative merits of this season's three Selke Trophy finalists.
And The Hockey News' Adam Proteau recognized "Two-minute" Sutter's Lady-Byng-ian season with his ballot.
Canes to play a KHL team in St Petersburg?
Darren Dreger: NHL, KHL closing in on deal for exhibition games Further to reports over the weekend, the NHL is moving closer to solidifying an agreement with the Kontinental Hockey League to play two exhibition games next season in Russia. Add this to Jim Rutherford's comments at the end of the season, and it looks like the Canes will be facing off against this KHL team as pre-season exhibition match next fall: The Official SKA Ice Hockey Club Website | Homepage.
Also found some bulletin board material here. Sergei Zubov: "SKA could defeat any NHL team" - KHL news
Question for you: How do you all feel about our Hurricanes playing in a non-NHL preseason game?
Another name to watch
At the Hurricane's Prospect Camp at the Reczone, July 2009, Brian Dumoulin (black jersey, now at Boston College) and Matt Kennedy work through their drills. (via LTD)
Last, in the OHL playoffs, the Windsor Spitfires (think Taylor Hall and Cam Fowler) came back from 0-3 in the series vs the Kitchener Rangers to win and advance to the next round vs the Barrie Colts. Barrie is now the home of the Canes' prospect Matt Kennedy who was drafted in the 5th round in 2009. Kennedy played for the Canes Prospects team who won the tournament in Traverse City, Michigan last fall and, at 20 years old, he was subsequently invited to training camp here in Raleigh. Cut by the Canes, Kennedy returned to his OHL team, the Guelph Storm, and was since traded to Barrie. Another big young winger we may need to keep an eye on.
His numbers: Matt Kennedy with Barrie Colts, in his 8 playoff games, he has put up strong scoring numbers of 7-4-11 and looks sharp at a +13.
An important chapter of Kennedy's story was a bad hit he received in January, described in this piece (glovetap to Cory for the find!): National Post: Colts looking for wins not payback in OHL finals During a mid-January meeting between the two clubs Spitfires forward Zack Kassian leveled Barrie’s Matt Kennedy with a vicious check, which resulted in a charging major and game misconduct. Kassian was subsequently suspended for 20 games while Kennedy suffered a concussion and missed two weeks of action.
Finally, a look at NHL Business news: the Good, the Bad and the Funny
KuklasKorner : Versus attracting Key Demographics Due to the momentum of NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, VERSUS garnered its most-watched April in primetime in network history.
Troubling NHL numbers - The Globe and Mail Reports indicate that as many as six teams needed advances on television and/or revenue-sharing money to pay the bills
Down Goes Brown: The NHL partners with Facebook Another winner!