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Tired - Blue Jackets 4, Hurricanes 1

The Carolina Hurricanes traveled for the 2nd game of a back to back on Saturday night and probably could have been a bit tired as they lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1. The Canes could only muster 7 shots on goal in the opening period and 6 in the second and fell behind 3-0. They tried to make a game of it in the third as Eric Staal scored his 20th goal of the season, but that was the only puck they could get past goalie Pascal Leclair.

The Jackets finished the scoring with an empty net goal by Kris Beech, who was set up on the play by Nikolai Zherdev. The enigmatic Russian sniper had a career night against Carolina. He scored 2 goals, had an earlier assist, and had a hand in every Columbus tally. What was all the news about earlier this year when the Blue Jackets were trying to trade the supposedly lazy winger?

There's not much to analyze about this game, but since it's "my job" I will throw out a couple of questions and observations anyway....

As predicted by this blog, Wade Brookbank only played about 2 minutes of the contest and that was as a forward, not as a defenseman. This leads to question one, why send Brandon Nolan back to Albany for a defenseman if you end up playing the recalled defenseman as a forward? Seems like a waste of time and travel expense for everyone involved. Besides, couldn't the forward play better at that position then the defenseman?

Jim Rutherford might have been trying to toughen up the squad with the likes of Brookbank, but if Peter Laviolette doesn't buy into the idea that an enforcer has value, then what's the sense? This team has gone about 2 years without an enforcer and before that Jesse Boulerice was healthy scratched more than he wasn't, prior to when he was traded. Even when he was suited up, there were games that he wasn't on the ice for more than a minute of total ice time. The GM and coach don't seem to be on the same page regarding this.

Cam Ward was replaced after the 2nd period and John Grahame only faced 3 shots in the third. When asked why he changed netminders after the game, Laviolette responded, "Everyone has to get better. Everyone!" While Ward didn't necessarily look sharp in the game, I wouldn't have called any of the Blue Jacket's goals soft. The AP described Zherdev's goals as "spectacular". Is Ward to blame for the multiple breakaways and defensive breakdowns? Maybe some other players need to be benched as well?

Tonight the Canes play in the annual New Year's Eve game against the New York Islanders at the RBC. The game is number 41 and will put the team at the season's mid point. I'll have an update early in the afternoon and will hopefully have the starting goalies and the rest of the lineups for both teams if that information is made available by then.

Tommy Lee - Tired