It's a "Brand New Day" in the Caniac Nation today. The Carolina Hurricanes went from the depths of an 8-1 loss to bitter rival Buffalo, to the heights of a 4-0 shut out over the Atlantic Division leading New York Rangers! You've got to love sports! How can a team look so inept one night, and look so efficient two nights later? Maybe a day of rest, some extra effort, and a shot of confidence helps? The Canes played one of the best games they have played all year, using a complete 60 minute effort by everyone to pretty much dominate the Rangers. It was certainly a team victory, as every single player contributed in some way. While Cory Stillman scored 2 goals and Scott Walker and David Tanabe each added one, in my opinion the real story of the game can be found on this event summary sheet which shows that the team had a total of 36 hits! I'm going to start keeping track of these, because I have to believe that is about the highest the team has had all year. Eric Staal led the way with 6, Erik Cole had 5, and Dennis Seidenberg led all defensemen with 4. Seidenberg also was credited with 2 blocked shots. The team had a total of 14 of those. There was backchecking, forechecking, and hustle all over the ice. The game was a pure joy to watch! Cam Ward didn't exactly have to stand on his head, but he made several solid saves when he needed them and he was aggressively playing on top of his crease, challenging shooters all night long. The Rangers were able to sustain some pressure here and there during the game as Chris Drury hit the post twice, but Wardo kept his cool and continued to look confident and sharp.
While many fans, sportswriters, and bloggers, (myself included), have complained about their recent inconsistent play, amazingly enough the team still has a comfortable 8 point lead in the division and is only one point out of the Eastern Conference lead. It's hard to complain about the end result, taking the goal differential over the previous 9 games into consideration or not. Imagine if this team was able to get on a hot streak and play like this a few games in a row?
Carolina opened the scoring at the 5 minute mark of the 1st period when Chad LaRose kept the puck in the Rangers zone on a nice defensive play. He moved the puck over to Matt Cullen who made a really slick pass to Scott Walker who had a step on the defense and was able to slip the puck into the net to give the Canes a rare early lead. The Hurricanes scored again late in the 1st period when Cory Stillman rifled a puck toward the crease. Matt Cullen was originally credited with the goal as he was standing right there, but the scoring was eventually changed and it was awarded to Stillman. About half way through the 3rd period, David Tanabe attempted to make a diving play on a puck but was called for a tripping penalty, even though it appeared that he hit the puck first before tripping the Ranger. Karma struck swiftly though as David was able to steal the puck and break into the clear immediately after leaving the box. He made the shot look easy as he roofed a nice snapper making the score 3-0. Cory Stillman closed out the scoring a couple of minutes later with Staal and Williams getting the assists.
Next up for the Canes is Tampa Bay on Thursday night. Will the same team show up that dominated play last night? They will probably need to because the Lightning have always posed to be a major problem for Carolina in Tampa. But that's another problem for another day, more about that later. Happy Tuesday!
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