The Carolina Hurricanes lived up to their franchise name last night and crushed the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-1. It really wasn't as close as the score indicated! While the Canes were certainly on the receiving end of a couple of lucky bounces, they also worked very hard and earned most of their ample opportunities. They completely out-skated the Leafs almost the whole game. Believe it or not, Vesa Toskala actually had a few nice saves in the 1st and 2nd periods to keep the game close at the time. Leafs coach, Paul Maurice never took the starting netminder out of the game, perhaps not wanting to ruin the confidence of young backup goalie Andrew Raycroft, as well as his starter's. One must think that Toskala's confidence is about shattered at this point.
The Canes spread the wealth and finally displayed the awesome power of their balanced attack. Seven different forwards scored including leading scorer Eric Staal, who scored his 4rth goal in 4 games so far this year. Newcomer Jeff Hamilton scored his 2nd goal of the year, earning his keep on the point of the powerplay. Jim Rutherford is looking pretty smart for that free agent signing right about now. Justin Williams, Cory Stillman, Scott Walker, Ray Whitney, and Matt Cullen all notched their first goals of the season. The defense looked good including Bret Hedican, who sacrificed his body and blocked 2 consecutive shots on an early Toronto 5 on 3 advantage. The Leafs ended up scoring shortly there-after, but I wanted to be sure to mention that extra initial effort by Bret. He looked healthy out there. Dennis Seidenberg has really impressed me so far this year. I think he's been outstanding. Cam Ward looked as solid as a rock and has yet to allow an even strength goal this year! Great job Cam! It's amazing how when players skate hard and win battles, good things usually happen! The entire team earned this one, I won't single any particular players out for stars.
The scariest moment for the Canes was when Craig Adams and Trevor Letowski collided breaking the puck out of their own end. Letowski took the brunt of it and had to take a few minutes to shake off the cobwebs. He had his jaw on ice most of the remainder of the game while on the bench, but to his credit he did take a few shifts afterwards while he was obviously still in pain. It reminded me somewhat of last year in Pittsburgh when he was knocked unconscious by Colby Armstrong. Keep your head up Trevor! (The paper this morning said that the collision involving Letowski was with Matt Cullen and Scott Walker. I thought Craig Adams was involved, but I could be wrong.)
I think this game is a good indication of how well the team can play when they are at the top of their games and things are going well. Cory Stillman's return was a huge factor. The dude has ice water in his veins and is always calm, cool, and collected with the puck. The power play certainly looks much better with him in there. Speaking of the power play, it was 4 out of 7 last night. Maybe all that extra work is finally paying off? While I don't expect the team to play this well every night, hopefully they can use the experience to boost their confidence and put a few more decent performances together in the near future. They will certainly need to be sharp again on Thursday as their next opponent, the Ottawa Senators, have yet to lose a game this season. But let's savor this victory a bit longer and worry about the Sens tomorrow. Great game Hurricanes!