Big brother took it to little brother last night, and 17,800 Caniacs aren't complaining. The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, and looked very good doing it. A couple of bounces went their way, bounces they certainly didn't get the previous game against the Habs. But bounces or not, for 2 solid periods the Canes pretty much dominated the game. Eric Staal looks to be the Eric Staal of 2006. He scored twice last night and has scored 3 goals so far in the first 2 games. Jeff Hamilton filled in very nicely for the injured Cory Stillman on the Staal/Cole line and had a goal and 2 assists. Andrew Ladd scored by using his pure strength in front of the net, out-muscling everyone else to the puck. He was also in front of the net, screening Fleury when Hamilton let loose his blast which found its way into the goal. Cam Ward was outstanding again. "Ward-o" had 33 saves on 34 shots and a couple of them looked brilliant. The only reason he did not get a shut out was because of a late 5 on 3 goal by Marc Recchi. It was a complete team effort and everyone contributed nicely. Even the defense accounted for themselves in a positive way. Coach Peter Laviolette tried some new pairings, mixing and matching the blue-liners at will and each of them responded favorably. Gleason and Wallin each played 19 minutes, yet it didn't seem that they were paired up much together during the game. Of course as we discussed earlier, Bret Hedican was ill and unable to play, so Dennis Seidenberg filled in for him and had an outstanding night! Dennis played a solid, physical, and positionally sound game. He pinched at the proper times and had 3 shots and an assist. He was credited with 2 hits and 3 blocked shots, but it seemed like he had more of both. He was primarily paired with Mike Commodore, who only played about 14 minutes. Commie is nursing a sore leg, but he handled himself suitably. Kudos to Mike, for sucking it up and playing hurt for the good of the team!
Tonight Carolina will take on the Washington Capitals up in DC. The Caps are coming off a nice win themselves, beating Atlanta 3-1 down in Georgia. Brent Johnson was in goal for that game, so it looks like the Canes will face Olaf Kolzig. Alexander Semin didn't play and is questionable for tonight. John Grahame is scheduled to be between the pipes for the Canes, giving Cam Ward a break. John Boy was nursing a sore leg himself earlier in the week, hopefully, that has cleared up. The rest of the line up will probably be the same as it was against the Pens. At least this back to back situation is even, because both teams played and traveled the previous night. No one can complain about this one.
One more note, someone needs to get poor Ray Whitney untracked. The dude can't seem to score if his life depended on it. He had a few good chances again which he mis-fired on last night. I must admit though, I'm not worried about Ray. Once he gets that first one, the flood gates will probably open.
(photo by getty images)