Happy New Year's Day everyone! I apologize for my lack of entries the past few days, but I've been out of town and finding the time to do some mobile blogging proved to be quite elusive, more so than I thought it would be! I missed the Buffalo and Anaheim games, so I really can't comment with any authority about them. In Buffalo it seemed we had a great 1st period holding the Sabres to only one shot, but the rest of the game seemed to be all Buffalo. While Rod Brind'Amour and Mike Commodore downplayed any significance to the fact that the Canes lost the 4 game season series to the Sabres in quotes after the game, it certainly doesn't give the Caniac nation warm and fuzzy feelings inside knowing that we lost every game we faced this season to our new arch rivals. Hopefully if we meet in the playoffs, things will be different than they were during the season.
Before the Anaheim game the Hurricanes honored Rod Brind'Amour by holding a mini-ceremony and awarding him some handsome gifts which included a gold-plated hockey stick, some crystal, and a portrait of him as a rookie with the Blues, Alternate Captain with the Flyers, and lifting the Cup as Captain of the Hurricanes. It was definitely one of the highlights of the year and I missed it! This game marked the return of David Tanabe who reportedly played a solid game and also threw in a couple of assists. By all accounts it sounded like the Canes brought their A game and even though the Ducks were the fresher team because they had the previous night off while the Canes were battling Buffalo, the Canes were able to match Anaheim's intensity and energy. Final score, Carolina 4, Anaheim 2!
Last night's game was another weird one. The Hurricanes out shot the Flyers 42-19, but still lost! Robert Esche played a fine game in goal for the Flyers, but this has happened before to the Canes. They seem to go through spurts of games where they are dominating play, but are not able to cash in on their scoring chances. Either they are just missing, their timing is just off, or something else is just not right. As a fan, I just keep telling myself that eventually these chances will go in. Even though Cam Ward allowed 5 goals on 19 shots and certainly has been sharper in net than how he looked last night, I can't really pin the loss on him either. The power play still needs some fine tuning but other than that I think the Canes have to put this game behind them and move on to the next one.
Some other random thoughts:
Refereeing 101... How can the refs allow constant cross checking in front of the crease where guys are getting battered and knocked down left and right, but call a tick tack holding or hooking or tripping call when one player touches another with his stick or hand? It happens almost every game. I can't help but think that many of these games all across the NHL which have gotten out of hand at the end were because of inconsistent calls during the game. Last night was no exception as Justin Williams leveled Afanasenkov in the last 26 seconds of the game in pure frustration which sent Hatcher and Eager in for retribution. Even Laviolette got his first bench minor of the year for "abuse of officials" near the end of the game. All this because the refs swallow their whistles for some calls and not for others and are maddeningly inconsistent.
Inquiring minds want to know... Ever wish you could ask the coach some questions? I have a couple, as well as a couple that readers have asked me in emails. Why did John Grahame start the Sabres game and not Cam Ward? While it's perfectly understandable that we need both goalies to play so one doesn't get over worked or tired, it would seem to me and many other fans that the Buffalo game was much more important than the Anaheim game. Shouldn't we play our best goalie in the most important game? Cam Ward was red hot, why not play him against a conference rival, in a game that most directly affected the standings and our positioning in the playoffs because of a 4 point swing rather than just 2? The Anaheim game was against a west coast foe and other than the obvious need for 2 points, it was a meaningless game as far as trying to build some type of confidence over a rival who we may need to play again in the playoffs.
Another question is why did Craig Adams play on the Staal/Cole line instead of Cory Stillman last night? This makes no sense to me other than maybe Cory was being punished for some reason or is injured again? While Craig deserves praise for his constant hustle and desire, there is no way on this earth that he should be playing on one of our top scoring lines. I would love for someone to explain to me the reasoning for that move.
Last night marked game 41 for the Canes, and they are at the mid point of the season. Tomorrow I'll look at where I think we are so far this year and also look at tomorrow night's game at Pittsburgh. Go Canes!