Clicks and Clippings: Winding down in Carolina

We must be near the end: Eric Staal gave some lucky fan the shirt off his back, at the RBC Center, April 3, 2010. via LTD.

No more speculating on the what-ifs. The Carolina Hurricanes season will officially be done on Saturday, April 10th. With two games left, against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday in Raleigh, and the final game Saturday in Boston to take on the Bruins at 1:00pm, the players may now focus on less desperately urgent challenges. Maybe it's just improving their season stats, convincing management they are ready to be NHL players, or serving as the spoiler for two teams who (as of today) do not have a lock on the second season themselves. 

Here's what they're writing about the Hurricanes today:  

All we have is a tweet from Bob McKenzie on this from about 1:30 this afternoon: "Carolina puts Tim Conboy on re-entry waivers." I'm guessing he's coming up for the injured Joni Pitkanen, who left early in the game last night and missed practice today. But then Erik Cole, Manny Legace, and Brian Pothier were also missing in action today. Unfortunately, still no update on Legace's sudden departure with a lower-body injury during the second period in Tampa.

UPDATE on the Tim Conboy move from the Albany Times-Union

The ‘Canes lost defenseman Joni Pikanen to injury Tuesday night...Albany Coach Jeff Daniels said the plan, if Conboy clears re-entry waivers, is to have him play Thursday night against Montreal in Raleigh, and Saturday afternoon against the Bruins in Boston, then return to Albany on Sunday.

With versatile forward Jussi Jokinen sitting at or near the top of the roster for goals and points, he's getting some well-deserved attention. Former Tampa Bay Lightning wing Jussi Jokinen finds success with Carolina Hurricanes - St. Petersburg Times TAMPA — Jussi Jokinen had to admit there was something special about getting his 30th goal Tuesday against the Lightning, the team that put him on waivers and finally traded him last season.

Another player with a big night in Tampa? Drayson BowmanGoals Boost Bowman's Confidence - Tracking the Storm Blog The game between Carolina and Tampa Bay was not the most meaningful. However, Drayson Bowman’s two goals in that contest carry significance.

After the game the Hurricanes tweeted this impressive statistic on our Captain. I'd sure love to know the other seven:

Staal's first goal tonight made him one of just eight NHL players to score 25 or more goals in each of the last five seasons.

Listen to these Audio links, from last night with Paul Maurice,  Drayson Bowman,  Eric Staal,  and Jussi Jokinen . 

So, yes we're winding down, but from all the rest of these stories, it seems the Canes are also well on their way to "winding up" for the 2010-11 season,  after the jump.

Fan-fun events for the week:

For the season's final episode of Canes CornerJussi Jokinen will be the in-studio guest of Mike Maniscalco tonight, Wednesday at 6:30pm on 99.9 the Fan. You can stream it here.

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Tomorrow, Thursday from 11:30am to 1pmHurricanes to Host Fans at "Caniac Cookout" The Carolina Hurricanes will host the first-ever "Caniac Cookout" on Thursday, April 8. A unique opportunity to eat barbecue sandwiches, catch up with Tuomo Ruutu, Alexandre Picard and Tim Gleason, and then take a bounce around in the moon walk, before heading back to the office. (Weather permitting - outside the RBC Center). Or you just might want to hang around for this:

Also, Thursday at 12:30 the Hurricanes will be making a big "surprise" announcement. All fans are invited to attend the presser, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be in attendance. Jim Rutherford told the N&O this morning that we should expect an announcement regarding Raleigh's bid to host the NHL 2011 All-Star Game, though about the only untold secret left is if the big story is actually pertains to the games for 2012 or 2013. Yeah right. (This writer attempted to be snarky about this before he remembered that we know how to rock the house with the best of 'em.)

Thursday at 7:30pm. There's a hockey game with the Canadiens - the last one at the RBC Center for the season. Note the later start with TSN picking it up, as is Versus in limited markets. Montreal may need to win to clinch (depending how the Rangers do playing the Maple Leafs in NY tonight). 

Saturday, starting at noon, is the Canes Country Final Game viewing party at Backyard Bistro. Blog founder and hockey-guru of us all, Bob has confirmed he will be in attendance, as will yours truly, hockeymomof2. (Sad to report that Cory Lavalette has a previous obligation and can't join us. But we're hoping that perhaps for Draft Day in June he'll be willing to MC an event for us, on what may be a historic day for the Hurricanes franchise - stay tuned!)

Facebook

Have you noticed a new Widget for Facebook over to your right.? In the ongoing efforts to improve your enjoyment of the SBNation blogs, the folks upstairs have made it so Canes Country now has a fully-integrated facebook page. With one click you can become a fan, and you'll find notices of our posts appearing on your wall. You can also select the Facebook logo at the top right of our homepage to connect this blog to your facebook page, allowing you to easily share anything you post here, on the blog, to your facebook wall as well. Cool.

Looking back and ahead:

Canes Made it Interesting - Tracking the Storm Blog While the disappointment is still somewhat fresh, the team still has an appreciation of how they rebounded from the season’s dismal start.

Hurricanes' head trainer Pete Friesen spoke with Chuck Kaiton about plans for the players during the off-season including his concerns for opening the season in Finland. Kaiton's Corner - Pete Friesen (You can mark your calendars: his 5k is set for September 12th.)

Draft News (as in: it's starting to get real)

Seguin tops CSS's final rankings; Hall second Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin is the top-rated North American skater in Central Scouting's final rankings. Plus this analysis piece:  All things equal, scouts favor center over wingWhy Tyler Seguin over Taylor Hall? For Central Scouting, it came down to a difference in position.

TSN.ca: 2010 NHL Draft Lottery Odds plus now we have confirmation of the precise time of the Draft Lottery: 8pm Tuesday, April 14thIt will be shown on Versus. (Finally, Versus covering something we care about!)

Calvin Pickard leads Canada’s World Under-18 entry - NHL.com  Twenty of the 22 players selected for the team are eligible for the League's June 25-26 selection extravaganza, including a number who will hear their names called early in the draft. The tournament will be played April 13-23 in Belarus.

Albany

Bowman scores first two NHL goals as Canes win - timesunion.com - Albany NY And from the comments, the Rats' fans are eagerly awaiting the return of Drayson Bowman,  Zach Boychuk, Jamie McBain, Bryan Rodney and Jay Harrison - expected at practice next Tuesday. I take it they may be the only ones without a tee time Sunday?

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AHL sensation of the week  Zac Dalpe at Hurricanes Prospects Camp last July (via LTD)

The Hockey News: The Hot List: Raising the stakes In this week's rundown of players we can't wait to see more of, we look at some of the juniors and AHLers who've stepped up their games.  Top of their list: Zac Dalpe

Samson Making Case for NHL - Tracking the Storm Jerome Samson may not have the pedigree of some of the Hurricanes’ other prospects, but he’s doing everything he can to make up for that.

I should have linked this site earlier. With free video postgame highlights, here you can sign up for the league-approved way to watch AHL games online: Albany River Rats highlight videos. Special mention to this link to see the Dalpe Hat trick last Saturday.

For those wondering whatever happened with that tryout contract for Mike McKenzie? Here [Game sheet] is his professional debut: 

Twitter / Gino Reda: Shout out to Mike McKenzie ...(Bob's son). Beauty assist in his AHL debut last night (Albany). Apple clearly DID fall far from that tree.

Albany's River Rats clinched a playoff berth last weekend, but last Saturday was the final "Regular Season" home game after a long history in New Yorks Capital Region. The Times Union covered the event featuring long time owner, Walter Robb.

Alumni

The Bruins Blog — Seidenberg’s season over The Bruins' announced that defenseman Dennis Seidenberg underwent successful surgery and will be out at least 8 weeks. 

Kings' Justin Williams getting back up to speed - latimes.com Justin Williams ' Stanley Cup ring, his prize for a splendid performance with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, is usually tucked away in a safe to preserve its brilliant gems and his shining memories of his best NHL season.

Of those the Hurricanes traded since the season started, Niclas Wallin, Matt Cullen, Scott Walker, Joe Corvo, Stephane Yelle, and Andrew Alberts are all headed to the playoffs. Even Michael Leighton, picked up by the Flyers on waivers, (and now out with an injury), seems likely to get there. Who is the one player left out, you ask? Aaron Ward

Frozen Four

Frozen Four Bracket and TV schedule Semifinals will be tomorrow, Thursday April 8th, starting at 5pm, with the second game (BC vs Miami) at 8:30pm, both on ESPN2. Championship on ESPN Saturday night, 7pm.

BC’s Brian Dumoulin on point - BostonHerald.com (Mar 26, 2010) with this glowing review of Cane's 2009 draft pick:

"[Dumoulin]’s had an incredible year for us as a first-year defender, which I think is the hardest position to move into in Hockey East as a freshman," BC Coach Jerry York said about his All-Rookie defenseman. "He leads the league in plus-minus (plus-24 in 27 HE games), but his offense game is really developing. He looks very comfortable with the puck."

Around the NHL

Not to rub salt in the wounds, but see Pierre LeBrun's overview of how the Second-half standings reveal who's hot, who's not heading into playoffs - ESPN . Yes, the Hurricanes are an outstanding 9th (top 30% in the NHL).  Bigger news: finishing 2nd in the East. 

Remember the Devils Captain, Jamie Langenbrunner getting scratched in Raleigh last weekend? Maybe more to it than "resting" for the playoffs. Langenbrunner mystery remains unsolved - NYPOST.com After the Devils' 3-0 victory over the Thrashers last night, he was nowhere to be foundWith no comment to media, what's eating Jamie Langenbrunner? - Puck Daddy gives us his take.

Trouble in Alberta, with Calgary Eliminated: Is Darryl Sutter Safe? | Hockey or Die The Calgary Flames were eliminated from playoff contention last night with a loss to the Sharks and an Avalanche win over Vancouver. There are a couple of games left to play, but their season is for all but over at this point, and that’s prompted criticism of the Sutter-run team. 

Finally,

Having traded the Canes' blooper-video regular Niclas Wallin to the Sharks this season, we may not get to enjoy these kind of highlight moves as frequently. Wrong way! Video - NHL VideoCenter:  Keith Ballard attempts to bat the puck out of the air and away from his net, but he knocks it into his own goal instead.  

And a little context here: The sad ballad of Keith Ballard vs. goalies continues - Puck Daddy  So sad. So funny.

Hope to see everyone Saturday!

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