The Carolina Hurricanes competed in another 1-0 game, but this time ended up on the winning side. Cam Ward out-dueled Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and with the help of a very stingy defense, shut out the home team. Eric Staal netted the lone goal, and almost had 2 more. Staal has really been on top of his game the past few weeks.
I thought that the opening period was a bit flat. The Canes only had 4 shots on goal and 2 scoring chances. They did play excellent defense though and didn't allow any easy chances to the Bruins. Eric Staal nearly scored on a pass from Erik Cole but Tim Thomas robbed him by swiping at the puck right at the goal line.
The 2nd period started with Carolina buzzing. They kept the puck in the Boston zone for major segments of the period and came close to scoring a few times. Eric Staal nearly scored again as he hit the crossbar with a sweet shot. Shortly after that though, Staal would finally solve Thomas for the game winner.
The 3rd period was simply hard-checking, defensive hockey. Boston tried to throw some pucks on the net near the end, but Cam Ward stood tall and the survived the barrage. I think that the game was one of the better overall efforts in the defensive end for the entire team, all year long. Boston could only muster 19 shots on goal for the game. The Hurricanes had 17 in the 2nd period alone, and finished with 28.
Newcomer Sergei Samsonov had to hustle to get to the game on time. It was reported that he had a delayed flight and arrived just an hour before the drop of the puck. Ron Francis surprised him at the airport and picked him up. Which leads to a question....is there anything that Francis does NOT do for this franchise?
I thought that Samsonov played very well, especially considering that he had never played with his line-mates before and he had a very tough day of travel. Ray Whitney was a last minute scratch because of an illness, so Sergei was placed on the Rod Brind'Amour, Cory Stillman line. Chad LaRose was moved up with Staal and Erik Cole.
The Russian was able to help keep the puck in a good cycle pattern several times and also helped to generate a couple of good scoring chances. He had one extremely slick move which led to an open shot, but it was stopped by Thomas. I also noticed him playing tough defense a few times as well, something that I thought that he wasn't noted for. If he keeps hustling like he did tonight, this pick up could work out very well for the Canes.
After the game, Keith Aucoin was sent back to Albany. Brandon Nolan was sent back earlier in the day. It's tough to watch these guys come up and bust their guts for the team, but then just get sent back down again. Better luck next time guys!
Casey Borer better be staying in town for awhile. Is it just a coincidence that the defense has gotten back to the basics and played sound defensive hockey since he was inserted into the line up? I give the kid an A+ since his call-up from Albany.
Wade Brookbank apparently has impressed enough people that he is hanging around as well. I'm not sure why. He has dropped the gloves upon demand, but his fights are less than stellar. Maybe it's as Tripp Tracy has suggested, his presence on the bench alone is enough to deter any funny business by opponents. I'm not sure I buy that, but I'll believe it the next time the Canes play the Flyers or Rangers and they behave themselves.
One final word about the Sergei Samsonov acquisition. Many of us had a negative initial reaction to it, myself included. But after some thought, this really isn't a bad gamble. As I mentioned in my previous posting, he is not costing the franchise any draft picks or prospects. He is a bit expensive, but considering that Chicago has to pay half of his salary, and half the year is over, the remaining amount due isn't extreme.
Samsonov is in the same position that Anson Carter was in last year. If he doesn't perform, there won't be any decent NHL contract offers next year. Look what happened to Anson! (Where is Anson Carter, does anyone know?) Good luck to the newest Hurricane, Sergei Samsonov. Don't look back!