The NHL rumor mongers are out in full force and of course the Hurricanes are right in the middle of them. But first things first, Frantisek Kaberle has been cleared to play tonight in Montreal! This will be the first game of the season for Frank, and he couldn't have picked a better time to feel well enough to return to play, even if he had planned it. The Carolina power play has reached a new low and needs all the help it can get. The News and Observer reported that the Canes had scored on only 5 of the last 51 attempts. That's about 8% for all you non math majors out there. Last year Kaberle racked up tons of assists playing point on the power play and I'm sure the Canes are hoping he still has some of that magic. The problem? In my opinion Frank is going to be out of game shape, his timing will probably be off, and he'll need some games under his belt before he can be very productive. Don't expect the return of Kaberle to immediately turn this team around, Caniacs. I think it's going to take time. But it's still great to have him back, the sooner the better!
Speaking of time, 10 Canes spent what was originally scheduled to be time off on Sunday, on the ice at the Reczone instead practicing said power play. Maybe they read the News and Observer story as well? Kaberle was one of the 10 players honing his skills, so he was getting acclimated already. Certainly an adequate power play is important if not vital to winning games. Not only does it deflate the crowd when time after time the man advantage is squandered, it takes it's toll on the confidence of the team as well. In looking back at the past few games, I can see how the team's 5 on 5 play deteriorated later in the game after they couldn't score on the power play. They become frustrated and then the next thing you know their whole game goes south. Not only that, but it emboldens the other team after the Canes can't score repeatedly on a power play. They can get more physical and take more chances, then they get more confidence. It's no coincidence that the power play has been invisible during these past 4 games, and the Canes lost each one. They go hand in hand. Fix the power play and the Canes will start winning again. Simple, right?
Now to the juicy rumors! First of all since Kaberle was reactivated, the Canes needed to move someone else from the roster to make room for him. They accomplished this by sending Anton Babchuk to Albany. I believe he's the only defenseman they could send who would not have to clear waivers. This move doesn't mean that a trade is not imminent though. Yesterday, Rutherford was quoted in the N&O blog as saying that he turned down 2 trade offers during the day because he thought that the price was too high and he still had faith that the team could improve on it's own without the possible cost of making a trade just for the sake of making a trade. Translation? 1. He's still trying to motivate the team. Start bustin your butts guys or someone is moving down the road soon! 2. He's got one trade offer that he likes, but it's not quite there yet. He makes this public claim that he's actually had "2" offers, thinking that the one offer he really had will get a little better if they think there is competition for the same player. He's negotiating in public, not a bad strategy. Either way if the Canes lose again tonight in "Habland", the bluffing will come to an end and a deal will soon be made. I would bet on that. Hopefully, the Canes will win tonight and put these rumors to rest for a few days, anyway!
This will be the first game this season that the entire roster is available for coach Laviolette and there are no significant injuries. The game tonight starts at 7:30, but there is no local television, it's only on center ice. Good luck to the Canes, they need it!