Last night the Canes lost their first exhibition game of the season to Nashville, 4-1. Let me start this post off by saying that obviously, I didn't watch the hockey game. I was out of town yesterday and last night, so I didn't even get to listen to it, (because it wasn't on XM). By the way, can someone please tell me why XM radio doesn't start broadcasting pre-season games until next week? Oh well, that's a different rant for a different day.Â It's very difficult for a writer to critique a game that he didn't even see, but I'm going to make a few assessments about this game anyway based upon the Yahoo box score and John Forslund's live blog. Yes, Forslund will be blogging live from each of the away games this pre-season at his new blog at WRAL! That's good news! First off, the Canes out-shot the Preds for the game 40-30, so that indicates that the effort was there. Also, according to Forslund, the power-play looked much better tonight. The Canes lone goal was scored on the PP. But, after scanning the scoresheet, I see that Trevor Letwoski had 2 penalties and was minus 2 for the night. I didn't have to watch the game to figure out that he didn't have the best of games. Justin Williams had 3 penalties while Tim Gleason had a 10 minute misconduct major! It seems like penalties could have played a major role in this game! Dear John Forslund: If you are going to take the trouble of providing an "In Game Blog", please don't leave out the "minor" details of what a player did to earn a 10 minute misconduct penalty! That's a little unusual, especially for a Hurricanes player and one would think that it would be at least mentioned in an "In Game Blog". Oh well, we'll have to guess for now how he earned that one.
Obviously, goalie Chris Mason was on his game and won this one for Nashville. Allowing 1 goal on 40 shots is outstanding work. John Grahame on the other hand allowed 4 goals on 30 shots, which is not so outstanding. While Forslund mentions that there was nothing Grahame could have done about that first goal, he doesn't say anything about the 3 allowed in the 3rd period. Does that mean that they were soft goals? One was short-handed and another was on a "connect the dots" perfect play. Maybe they were not softies. Either way, it would seem that Carolina needs Grahame to step up and play better. Every time that I have witnessed an exhibition game or a scrimmage this year that Grahame participated in, Leighton has outplayed him. Does that mean Leighton is better? Not necessarily. We all know that goalies can run hot and cold, but for the most part last year, John-boy didn't impress anyone either. He's continuing his "unimpressiveness" again so far this year. Grahame does have a better career stat sheet than Leighton does, but that stat sheet is not going to win games for Carolina.
Someone asked me tonight, can the Canes send Grahame to Albany of they wanted to? The answer is yes, they sure can! He would have to clear waivers first, (which would be no problem because I can't see another team picking up a 1.4 million dollar back-up goalie with a losing record and abysmal save percentage.) The main problem with assigning him to the AHL for the Canes is that they would be wasting 1.4 million dollars, because Grahame has a guaranteed contract. He will receive that much money no matter where he plays. Plus the team would have to pay an additional 500K for his replacement. (Leighton) They would have to be extremely unhappy with Johnny to flush that kind of money down the toilet. But there is precedent, it's not like the franchise hasn't done something like this before! Remember when they soured on Arturs Irbe? They didn't just send him to the AHL, they banished him all the way to the ECHL, yet continued to pay him his 2.1 million dollar salary! That was a complete waste. Could similar drama be unfolding here once again? I expect Grahame to make the team no matter how poorly he plays this pre-season, but I would think that he will be on a really short leash once the season starts. Come on Johnny. The Canes need you to "be good", or you'll be gone!
Men at Work