The Hurricanes lost to the Flyers tonight, 6-3. What went wrong? I think quite a few things did, but in my opinion the major problem was a lack of discipline. Justin Williams showed no discipline as he continually chirped about penalties until he was finally given a 2 minute unsportsmanlike call on top of an interference call that he had just received. In all, Williams had 8 minutes in penalties which of course is unacceptable, bad calls or not. At some point a player needs to realize that the refs are looking for him and he needs to just shut up and play. Justin didn't seem to realize that tonight until it was too late. Cam Ward also showed a lack of discipline when he tried to pass a puck weakly up to center ice. The pass was intercepted and ended up in the net, a gift wrapped tally for the Flyers.
The first period started a little tentatively, but I thought that it went okay. One memorable moment was when Bret Hedican laid a very nice hit on Sami Kapanen. Welcome back to Raleigh, Sami! Rod Brind'Amour scored a sweet powerplay goal and the Canes led at the end of the period, 1-0. The Canes actually held a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal, but it didn't seem like that much of an advantage at the time. In the 2nd period the intensity picked up. Philly caught up in the shots on goal department and also took control on the scoreboard as the period ended with the Flyers up 2-1. The 2nd period was also when Williams had his meltdown as he spent 6 minutes of the period in the box.
The 3rd period was a wild one. The Flyers started things off with a powerplay goal, (on Wardo's miscue), but the Canes answered with one of their own on a very nice shot by Eric Staal which found the upper corner of the net. The Flyers scored the next goal, but the Canes were able to take advantage of another ensuing powerplay as Matt Cullen tipped in a Cory Stillman shot from the blueline. At that point the score was 4-3 and it was still anyone's game. The Flyers got called for yet another penalty, and after the beginning of the powerplay Mike Richards accidentally hit Cory Stillman with a high stick. It looked as though Stillman was pinching his face trying to make it bleed, but alas, it was just a 2 minute infraction. The penalty gave the Canes over a minute of 5 -3 action. They were able to get set up and move the puck around, but they never got a decent scoring chance off. At one point with about 20 seconds left in the 2 man advantage, the puck was frozen for a faceoff and Laviolette sent in Matt Cullen to play the point. Eric Staal assumed that Matt was in to take Jeff Hamilton's spot and moved over toward Hamilton, but Cullen motioned for Eric to get off the ice. Visibly unhappy with that news, Staal skated to the bench and slammed the door shut as he closed it. I believe that substitution was a major mistake by Lavi because Staal was having a decent night and had already scored one nice goal from the point on an earlier powerplay. In the meantime, Hamilton was having a shaky night and had several soft passes intercepted during the game. Regardless, Staal is the highest paid player on the team for a reason, he needs to be on the ice in crucial situations. Sure enough as fate would have it, Hamilton was set up for the last shot on the 5-3 from the left side of the ice and broke his stick on his shot attempt. The Flyers cleared the puck and in essence, won the game when they killed that 2 man advantage. That was the defining moment of the game.
I think that it was an entertaining game to watch, despite the disappointment. There were some good hits and things got a little chippy at times. There were some good plays as well as bad ones. I think everyone can take some of the blame for the loss, including the coach. Some random thoughts...
You can tell that Biron and Staal dislike each other. Biron was called for a penalty once as he hit Staal after Eric was pushed into him. Number 12 was slow to get up and Marty took exception to it.
Chad LaRose was chirping all night. He's another one that I wish would concentrate more on skating than running his mouth. (sorry Chuck Norris of hockey fan club!)
In the meantime, the 5.2 million dollar per year man, Scott Hartnell, the most expensive agitator in the game, lived up to his chippy reputation. He also scored his 2nd goal of the year on an empty netter at game's end. I wonder if his first goal of the year was also on an empty netter? I'm glad the Flyers are wasting their money on that dude. He's not even worth half of what he's getting paid and I said so right after the Flyers signed him to that ridiculous contract last summer. We'll see if he gets 10 goals this year.
Kevin Weekes was the "alumni of the night" during the Canes 10th anniversary "moment". I hate to say it because Weekes had some great moments for the Canes, but Cam reminded me a lot of Kevin tonight. I saw plenty of sloppy puck handling, juicy rebounds, and what seemed to be a lack of concentration at times.
Carolina's home ice advantage is quickly evaporating as their home record now stands at 6-4-1. Perhaps they prefer to play on the road? Tampa Bay comes to visit on Friday night and that game is now crucial for several reasons. The rest of the division is catching up in points plus the Bolts have owned Carolina, not only this year but in recent memory. The points would be nice to get in order to maintain the division lead, but the confidence factor is even more important against this team.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating!