Yesterday, Jim Rutherford decided that he would "let it be" concerning the Hurricane's roster while last night the Canes decided to "let it be" in the 3rd period against the Senators. Let's talk about the game first. It was a typical home game, typical for the past couple of months anyway. There was a lot of sloppy passing, sloppy receiving, and sloppy stick work. There were some good moments though as I thought most of the team did skate hard and showed decent effort during the first 2 periods. They were able to build a 2-1 lead by the end of the 2nd, but then came the ugly 3rd. The Canes were out shot, out worked, out smarted, and totally dominated by a Senators team who played like they really wanted to win. The Sens went on to score 3 goals in the period and won the game 4-2. John Grahame played a good game and made 31 saves, but to no avail. On the other side of the ice Martin Gerber only had to make 23 saves and really wasn't pressured hard more than a couple of times. I didn't think he looked as sharp as Grahame did, but he may as well have taken a nap in the 3rd period because the puck was in the Carolina zone most of the time.
After the game, coach Laviolette broke his previous shortest press conference record of 30 seconds by making a brief 20 second appearance. He was quoted as saying "We are just flat. I mean we are sleeping. We get outskated, outbattled. You're not going to win games like that". So what do you do about it Peter? The team's home record is abysmal this calendar year. From the New Year's Eve, Flyers loss to the disappointment last night, Carolina is an exasperating 5 wins and 11 losses at home. What's even worse is that those lowly 5 wins have all come against bottom feeders. The only teams that the Canes have beaten at home so far in 2007 are Washington, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Florida, and the Islanders. I should take that back, the Islanders used to be bottom feeders but they rose above the Canes last night into the final playoff spot. That home record is nothing more than embarrassing. The good news is they get to play Ottawa again tonight this time in Canada's Capital. Let's hope they maintain their focus on the road, because they have very little at home right now.
All right, enough about the game last night. There is something positive to report. At least Jim Rutherford didn't waste any more draft picks to make a trade yesterday before the deadline. I think we got a heck of a deal in getting Anson Carter for a 5th round pick. Who else should we have picked up? There were very few players who moved yesterday that got me excited. Of course everyone wanted Guerin and Bertuzzi, but few teams could afford them, including the Canes. Smolinski might have been interesting, but I don't think he's worth a 2nd round pick. When you compare his 14 goals to Carter's 10, I just don't see the value in making that trade. The Boyes/Wideman deal was an interesting one and should benefit both teams. Boston made a couple of moves, including getting the rights to Aaron Ward. They must have really been concerned with their defense. The Ryan Smyth to the Islanders deal was shocking to me. Poor Edmonton fans will be sweating bullets until he signs a new contract this offseason and if he does sign with them again next year, they will have literally stolen 2 prospects and a 1st round pick from Garth Snow. Maybe the Snowman knows something the rest of us don't? I can't see how Buffalo helped themselves by dumping Biron and adding in Conklin. They better hope and pray Miller doesn't get hurt or go cold or we'll be hearing the whining all the way down here in Raleigh. They also added Zubrus, but again...that's not exciting to me. I don't excite easily, do I?
I know many Caniacs are upset that JR didn't add anyone or that he couldn't move an excess defenseman. Let's get realistic for a moment. First of all, Carolina's prospect cupboard is bare. Prospects that are worth anything, anyway. There is no doubt in my mind Rutherford tried to move a defenseman. Not only are they wasting away being scratched every game, but the Canes are flushing money away paying them every week for sitting in the pressbox. Rutherford's been saying in public that he's been trying for over a month to make a trade. But what is he going to get for Andrew Hutchinson or Dennis Seidenberg? Perhaps another 4rth line player or fringe AHLer? Someone else to scratch every game? I would bet dollars to doughnuts that JR tried to throw one of those defenseman in the Anson Carter trade and Columbus refused. They would rather have the 5th round pick! Seidenberg was healthy scratched in Phoenix and now he is here, nobody is going to be knocking on Rutherford's door for that. Hopefully Seidenberg and Hutchinson will improve, but they just aren't worth anything now. As for other members of the defense, Anton Babchuk refused an assignment to the AHL, that killed his value. David Tanabe isn't going to bring any return even if the Canes wanted to trade him. He is a free agent at the end of the year, free to go wherever. He's just not been good enough, long enough to generate much interest as a valuable rental. Letowski is another player impossible to trade. The Canes could waive him and I bet he would go unclaimed because of his high salary and minimal production. Also, the Canes need to hold onto their draft picks now. After trading so many last year for Weight and Recchi, they can't afford to do it again this year or it will kill their prospect system. Another factor to keep in mind is that there is no silver bullet to save this team anyway. They are not just one or two new rental players away from suddenly being great again. Rutherford brought them in a warm body to replace Cole while he is hurt. They can't rely on Rutherford to solve all their problems, they must look within at some point and sink or swim with the core group that have signed big dollar, multi-year contracts. Those are the guys who have to turn this thing around, not Jim Rutherford or rental players. That is just my opinion but I'm sticking to it for now!
Last night Katherine Fritsch sang both anthems and did another wonderful job. But the Canes undefeated streak for games in which she sang was unceremoniously ended. According to the lineup sheet, Holly was supposed to sing. Apparently she took ill and Katherine got the call at the last minute. Way to go Katherine and get well soon to Holly! Also, today is the last day to vote in the "Living Room Live" competition. Good luck KK!
Tonight's game starts at 7:30 and the pressure just keeps mounting for the Canes. They can't afford to drop back much further in the standings. Can they put together 60 solid minutes of good hockey? Tune in to Fox Sports South and find out. Good luck Canes!