Though the answers have been all over the map since the Carolina Hurricanes began to stumble badly in the last couple weeks, the questions continue to get more difficult and the need to solve them feels increasingly urgent. The buck stops with Jim Rutherford, who has been quiet since Monday last week when he told Chip Alexander:
"Now, if we're talking again in a six- or-seven game losing streak, I'll probably be in a different frame of mind and answer those (coaching) questions differently. Let's get back on track. If not, I'll look at all the situations differently."
The dwindling ice-time given to the youngest members of the team has gotten so conspicuous that it's set off alarm bells indicating that the pressure on the coach is intense. Most of us seem to agree, it won't be long before something's got to give.
Point: Canes' youth not being served - Brian LeBlanc, Canes Country What in the world had Zac Dalpe and Zach Boychuk (and, for that matter, Jiri Tlusty) done to earn a total of ten minutes of ice time among the three of them? ★★★★★
Counterpoint: Next Day's Notes: Flyers-Hurricanes - Kurt Dusterberg, HurricanesBeat.com As much as I believe Boychuk has earned the chance to play on an NHL scoring line, I don't disagree with Maurice either. With Carolina in 13th place, there is no margin for error. Maurice's job, first and foremost, is to get the Hurricanes to the playoffs — not to develop Boychuk on the fly. If that means Boychuk must wait until someone falters, so be it. ★★★★
Wednesday night's game vs the Canadiens will not be broadcast locally by FSN, so plan on heading someplace with Center Ice if you want to watch it live. Hopefully, it'll be available in English.
UPDATE 5:45pm Post-practice Audio from Paul Maurice With 7 games in the next 11 days, looking to the next one vs Canadiens [6:29 mins]. Soundbytes: Got Patty Dwyer "going", Jussi is not quite 100%, Boucher more confident now than 48 hours ago, trying to stay positive, crawling our way back to .500 in this stretch.
- Brent on the Hunt - Michael Smith, Tracking the Storm "I haven’t even had the chance to put it in the water, which is a sin, almost," Tim Brent said. "Brand new boat like that sitting there. I go out and sit in the driver’s seat and pretend." ★★★★
- Canes to run into Cole, Habs on road - Chip Alexander, Canes Now Of Erik Cole, Maurice said, "We'll try to get a matchup we think can skate with him out there and try to deny him the puck, but I would expect he will be at his finest."
Wednesday morning UPDATE: Cole adjusts in Montreal - NewsObserver.com (fleshing out the tweets in full sentences) ★★★★★
"My answer is that everyone needs to relax," Cole said. "Eric is the type who puts a lot of pressure on himself at the start of each year and wants to come out the gate really, really hard and be the guy to carry the team...
"Maybe this year, with me not there or whatever, it's different. But Eric will be fine."
Chip caught up with Cole after arriving in Montreal a little while ago and relayed his conversation by tweet via @ice_chip
Just talked to Erik Cole. He said he had not heard that Eric Staal was playing the wing. Found that interesting. Cole said Staal "always puts pressure on himself at the start of the year to come out of the gate really hard ... and carry the team." Cole said he has had to adjust to Habs' systems, that it's more "read and react." Said with Canes, "I was going, going, going." Cole said playing Canes in Bell Centre will be different than being with Oilers and playing at RBC Center. That was an emotional return.
About last night
- Game Analysis: Flyers At Hurricanes - Cory Lavalette, Canes Country Patrick Dwyer breaks through; top (Cam Ward) to bottom (fourth line) question marks.
- Dwyer's 2 goals not enough to lift Canes over Flyers - Chip Alexander, NewsObserver.com "I think we gave them too much time and too much space," Brian Boucher said. "I don't know if that is a sense of giving them respect or what (but) I think after the (goaltender) change we snapped out of it and started to be a bit more aggressive and started playing with some urgency."
- Dwyer shows his skills in Hurricanes' 5-3 loss to Flyers - Peter Koutroumpis, Raleigh Examiner.com Matching up against opposing teams’ top lines, Dwyer’s quickness and ability to read the play has made him one of Carolina’s top defensive specialists who lays body checks, digs for loose pucks, and has the ability to score when presented with the opportunity.
- For a look at just the numbers: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Philadelphia Flyers Scoring Chances - Shutdownline.com Jay Harrison actually played well against the Jagr-Giroux-Hartnell line for the most part and it's a nice rebound from him after the shellacking he took against Pittsburgh. Bryan Allen & Jamie McBain are turning into a solid pairing as they kept the Briere line in check for most of this game and came out in the black with scoring chances.
- This aired during the Sunday matinee vs the Dallas Stars (November 6) Zach Boychuk with Mike Maniscalco [6:19] talking about playing on the 4th line, Tim "the Deerhunter" Brent and what to expect prior to the road trip last week. ★★★★
- CORRECTED LINK: Eric Staal took time with Maniscalco [5:25] Sunday, following the Penguins game, and which aired last night. About the move to wing, the World Trade Center tour in NYC, and Jeff Skinner's dynamite start. ★★★
- Jeff Skinner leads the NHL for Penalties drawn - BehindtheNet.ca. Checking back on a stat we took note of last year, the current "Penalties drawn per 60 minutes played" as calculated by the site where all hockey stat geeks begin. Skinner leads with 3.7, then Rick Nash, Dustin Brown, Matt Duchene, Evander Kane, Mike Cammalleri all below 3 per 60. Second best on the Canes? That's Tuomo Ruutu tied for 8th at 2.4.
- Can Ovechkin reinvent himself? - Chuck Gormley, CSNWashinton.com Alex Ovechkin is on pace to finish with 38 goals and 38 assists. Is that enough? Or does he need to adjust his game?
- And a similar quandary for Eric Staal described by yours truly here at Red Light District: What's eating Eric Staal? Staal, at his best, is a powerful "North-South" skater with blazing speed and a wicked shot. But I’ve never heard anyone praise him for his vision, hockey sense or finesse. When you’re as fiercely competitive and have the size, strength and shot to get the job done, thinking outside the box simply hasn’t been necessary.
Radical Realignment in the works?
Ed Snider says "total realignment" is on the way | ProHockeyTalk What Snider means by that is that he believes the NHL will adopt a four conference setup, much like has been discussed already. ★★★
Here's a visual showing a possible throwback configuration: Realignment revisited: Time for four divisions? - Carolyn Christians, RLDHockey The most radical plan under consideration was to return to just four rather than six divisions, perhaps with a bit of nostalgia for the days for when the divisions were named for League's founding fathers (Lester Patrick, James Norris, etc) rather than points on the compass.
And while we're talking about maps and relocations: NHL Back In Hartford In Five Years: Crazy Or Brilliant? - Rick Green | CT Confidential ★★★ (via@RangerRick)
Checkers (and 'blades) news
- Charlotte Checkers Weekly Report, Nov 14 - Paul Branecky The Checkers concluded the longest road swing in their two-year history with a record of 5-4-0, good enough to keep them atop the Midwest Division. ★★★★
- The Goalie Guild's top 30 prospects which lists Charlotte's Mike Murphy at #14 (up from 16) with Justin Peters not making the cut.
- Another great one from the ECHL: Everblades ‘under the sea’ hockey jersey is goofy, sadly snark-proof - Puck Daddy ★★★
- Carolina Hurricanes Depth Analysis, Fall 2011 - Cory Lavalette, Hockey's Future The organization's prospects in the system, Fall 2011 ★★★★
- Playing for Canada’s heroes - The Waterloo Record Interview with Ryan Murphy last Thursday ★★★★★
"I don’t remember too much of the hit," he said. "I do remember little tidbits. I remember coming off and telling the coaches I wanted to go back on." Murphy played one shift before Kitchener coaches sent him to the dressing room. "It was all my decision to go back on," he said. "I guess the coaches thought I looked out of it and sent me off."
- Cross scores with 2.8 seconds left to lift Boston College over Northeastern - U.S. College Hockey Online "Brian Dumoulin got [the puck] and that’s where he’s a special player. Most guys would have panicked," said Cross of the winning goal. "He somehow had the clock in his head, looked over to me and I just got it off quick."
- Who's your daddy? Doesn't matter - Vancouver Province Sons of ex-NHLers Keegan Lowe, Reinhart and St. Croix don't trade on their names ★★★
- Howe has point about policing + 30 Thoughts - Elliotte Friedman, CBC Sports ★★★★★ is always a must-read, but I'll highlight this one about a former Cane getting noticed for his work as a new NHL coach:
26. Scottie Upshall on Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen: "He's like having an extra captain out there." You can see the difference in this team. Mentioned in one of last year's blogs that Dineen despises divers. He's told his players he will not tolerate it.
- Tomorrow night will be the first time the Canes have played against a very familiar face clad in his new and unfamiliar jersey.
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From last night, in the wake of the Lucic/Miller controversy: Video: Erik Cole runs Jhonas Enroth, as Lindy Ruff predicted - Puck Daddy