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The Carolina Hurricanes dropped one to the Florida Panthers last night, 4-2. I'm not going to blame the loss on the refs and I'm not going to say that the Canes should have won it. Quite frankly, at the end of the day I thought that the Panthers deserved to win the game. They took advantage of their powerplay opportunities and the Canes didn't. While the Hurricanes certainly played well enough to win and held a 2-1 lead half way through the 3rd period, I felt like they certainly didn't have their "A" game most of the time. I also felt that they played more into Florida's hands and played Florida's game, not their own.

Now having said all of that, I think that referee Brad Watson should be banned from ever reffing again in the NHL. He obviously allowed hype, the press, and complaining from a year ago, to dictate how he called this particular game and in my opinion, that should never happen. Suddenly for the first time all year, he called 2 diving penalties on the Canes in the same period and we're supposed to believe that it's a coincidence? The call on LaRose was highly questionable and the one on Williams was outright lunacy. Both diving penalties negated obvious, legitimate infractions by the Panthers. So, somehow it's fair to reward Olli Jokinen for boarding Chad LaRose because Chad fell wrong? The "holding" penalty on Nathan Horton was a mugging, simply because Horton was upset about a clean hit on him just previous to that. So it's fair to negate the mugging because Justin Williams fell awkwardly or didn't fall properly? When professional hockey players have to worry about how it looks when they fall while they are being tackled, the game has really evolved into total theatrics which is something the league is supposedly trying to get away from. Okay, so maybe those were just really bad calls. Bad calls happen every game, against every team, so what's the big deal? The big deal is that Watson allowed the media's perception and hype to dictate how he made his calls. If he enters a game with a preconceived notion of how he's going to call a game or what he is specifically going to look for before the game even starts, then how is he to be considered an objective or fair referee? How can he be trusted? While all refs make mistakes, his "mistakes" were made because of premeditated intentions, and that is unacceptable in any sport! There is a reason why juries are sequestered. Maybe the NHL should do that with referees as well? Brad Watson, you sir are a piece of crap!

There's not really much else to report about the game. It wasn't the most exciting that I have ever watched, but that goes without saying because the Panthers were involved. Peter Laviolette played 7 defensemen and that turned out to be a wise move because Nic Wallin re-injured himself and left the game early. Dennis Seidenberg played in his place and played pretty well. Bret Hedican was able to go and looked no worse for the wear, sore knee or not. The Canes first goal was scored on a very nice play as Erik Cole passed to Ray Whitney who made a perfect shot. The 2nd goal was another thing of beauty as Cory Stillman banked a long pass off the end boards to Eric Staal who rifled the puck over to a wide open Erik Cole. The play was very similar to what Stillman did on Long Island, except that this time Staal fed the puck to Cole instead of the reverse. Rod Brind'Amour's 9 game point streak is over. One thing that is very concerning is Carolina's penalty kill. It's been atrocious the past few games, and they really need to start working on it. After allowing 5 goals against the Habs and 3 more last night, it must be near last place in the league. Time to get back to the basics!

One more word about Brad Watson. Stop reading the papers and call the game as you see it!! That's all I've got for now.

Joe Jackson