The Canes smashed the "Bananas" last night , 6-2, extending their streak to 7 consecutive games where they have earned points. On the flip side of the coin, the Sabres still have yet to win a road game this season. They lost 2 more players to injury last night and it looks like they might have a few of the same problems that the Canes faced last year, injuries, complacency, and bad penalties. I thought Ryan Miller played decent enough, but he quite simply needs more help in his own end. Carolina exploded with 43 shots on goal and any goalie will have trouble being successful facing that many shots.
For those of you who checked back and didn't see an update, I apologize. I didn't have a chance to post late last night and it was just one of those days today. (no lunch break..ouch!) But enough of that, back to the game last night. Without getting into a full blown summary, I'll just briefly touch upon some observations and opinions.
I was a bit worried during and after the 1st period, even though the Canes scored that early goal. They just seemed out of synch and I mentioned to someone that Staal and Cullen didn't seem to be having good games. Of course going 0-3 on the powerplay didn't help ease my concern. The 2nd period picked up and Carolina looked more like what they have looked so far this year. It was still a tight game though, and Cam Ward made a couple of nice saves when they were needed. The 3rd period was obviously all Canes, and the scoring started with a diving Eric Staal getting the puck in the net with pure desire and effort. That was the Eric Staal from 2005-06, the player who refused to be denied!
It was another significant game for several of the Canes. They had 6 different goal scorers, again showing off their balance and depth. Bret Hedican had a career game and practically bested his entire scoring output from last year in one night with a goal, 2 assists and a plus/minus rating of +5! Needless to day, he was 1st star. Even though Staal started out slowly, he finished with 3 points and made a few nice plays on defense. I really love his game so far this year. Jeff Hamilton had another beautiful goal while playing the point on the powerplay. I'd hate to throw my body in front of that rocket of a shot to block it! His shot reminds me of Anton Babchuk's, except Anton would rarely shoot his bazooka in games and his shot was rarely on net. Hamilton has no fear and has deadly accuracy. Whitney, Williams, and Brind'Amour all looked awesome. The defense as a whole had a few anxious moments, but for the most part they held in there together and also played well. Mike Commodore had another nice physical performance and Glen Wesley remains the master of stopping rushes. He's just a joy to watch and it's hard to believe he's the "elder statesman" of the team. Even though so many players had good games, my unsung hero award is going to Keith Aucoin. That dude seemed all over the ice last night, and he had 2 beautiful scoring chances that Miller was barely able to stop. Most importantly, his hustle to hold the puck in the zone right before Staal's goal was the key to that play. For all his trouble, he got a high stick to the face by goon Andrew Peters near the end of the game, but he seemed no worse for the wear afterwards. It's hard to believe he only played 6 minutes, but nice work Keith! I think more minutes will be coming Friday.
I'll sign off for now but will have more before the game tomorrow night against the Habs. Ciao!
Goo Goo Dolls