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Clicks and Clippings: Keeping on an even keel

You may have caught it last night when the interview was aired at intermission: Carolina Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal's three-minute sit-down with John Forslund is now up on CanesVision. Toward the end, Forslund asked Staal his thoughts on young Jeff Skinner. This is what the team's 26-year old franchise center had to say, especially relating to what it feels like to be an 18-year-old making headlines in the NHL:

You’ll have a great night and everything’s all hunky-dorey and everyone’s all pumped up and then the next night, things just don’t go well... It’s about taking the positives, and continuing to work and making sure that work ethic is there.

I’ve talked with him about just, y’know, not getting too high and too low. It’s so key, and it’s such a long season, that some things are gonna go your way and some things aren’t. If he can continue to have that smile like he does and that work ethic he does, then he’s going to be very good.

When I heard practice was cancelled this morning, I was hoping the whole team  was taking those words, as cliche as they sound, to heart right now. As Cory pointed out in his Five Observations earlier, despite being on the wrong side of .500 at 5-6-0, and that whole momentum-killing we-really-suck-at-face-offs issue, there are indeed some very pleasant surprises on the Canes roster now. Cory noted the improved (by a mile) play of Patrick Dwyer and Jay Harrison. I'd add Anton Babchuk's energy in the defensive zone, Tuomo Ruutu centering a line with Erik Cole and some other new guy, and surely no one thought Skinner would be this good this quickly. Seventy-one games to go. We're just getting started. Steady as she goes.

TV Programming reminder: Tonight WRAL-TV's Jeff Gravely's interview with Jeff Skinner will air on their local news (at 6, 10 and 11). This feature was originally scheduled for last Wednesday, just prior to the home opener last week, but was preempted by the coverage of the severe weather that swept through North Carolina at the same time.

After the jump links from the Canes and other local media, plus the usual tour around the NHL blogosphere.

Catching up on local Canes links


Tracking the Storm and the Hurricanes Report podcast returns 

Canes Looking for Faceoff Improvement - Tracking the Storm Blog More than the numbers, the impact has become clear on the ice. Two of the three Philadelphia goals this past Monday came immediately after lost defensive-zone faceoffs, as have others this season.

Carolina Hurricanes Official Podcast 11/01/2010 You can download for later or listen now to this 37 minutes of pucktalk on the Canes with insiders Paul Branecky and Kyle Hanlin, including their take on Skinner, Cam Ward, and the road trip.

News & Observer

Road rough on Canes - For the Canes, playing the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday at Wells Fargo Center offered yet another good, tough test in a season that already has had several. On this night, the Flyers simply were too good and a little too tough, winning 3-2.

Canes' Skinner is still learning - Ten games into his rookie season with the Carolina Hurricanes, Jeff Skinner has quickly learned the NHL is more than scoring dazzling goals on Broadway or showing off a winsome smile.

And from Mike Maniscalco on 620 the Buzz

John Forslund talks Canes offense on 620 the Buzz - Canes TV play by Play voice John Forslund told Mark and Mike that the Canes need to get offensive, the good kind of offensive Tuesday morning. 


October's Players of the Month


The NHL has named three players of the month and their rookie of the month. Buzzkill: None of them play for Carolina. Stamkos, Thomas and Stewart named NHL 'Three Stars' for October and then Capitals' Neuvirth named NHL Rookie of the Month for October. Note that two out of four highlighted players this month are here with us in the Southeast Division. 

This save by Michal Neuvirth on Eric Staal seems to be part of the reason he got the prize. As Paul Branecky pointed out by twitter: Maybe if Skinner had scored on him? Only wish the official had been better placed for this one to know for sure.


Because we all can't get enough of Jeff Skinner, 

The Fourth Period :: Rookie Watch :: No. 4 Skinner's first appearance in their top10. (Where the heck have they been?)

NHL's referee turnover a concern, plus 30 thoughts - Elliotte Friedman 

14. Of all the curveballs at last year NHL's draft, the least surprising to many teams was Jeff Skinner being selected 27 spots above his ranking. Now we all know why.



The Checkers


Game Preview of the Portland Pirates at Charlotte Checkers The puck drops at 7pm and you can listen using the links in the story. This is only the 3rd home game of the season for the Checkers. (sound familiar?) The Portland team (the Buffalo Sabres' affiliate) is very strong now, with an 8-2 record. The Checkers dropped their first game against them, in Portland ,by a score of 5-1. But that was before the recent roster moves.

Remember how intertwined these teams are this season. For instance: tonight will be the AHL debuts of Zac Dalpe and Drayson Bowman. In today's TTS blog linked above, they suggest that AHL-veteran (and NHL newbie) Jon Matsumoto may stay up in Raleigh to hold down the fourth line center spot,  freeing up Patrick Dwyer (who played games 23 games with the Rats last season) to stay up on Brandon Sutter's wing. Last, with the extent of Joni Pitkanen's injury from Philadelphia uncertain, we've been told there may be a call to Charlotte after their game tonight to send up reinforcements. The consensus seems to be we'll see Brett Carson returning, but that's just speculation for now. It's sure not like when they were up in Albany, is it?


Eye on the future


Justin Shugg is sure making a lot of noise: Majors’ Shugg Named OHL Player of the Week | Open Ice Hockey In three games Shugg scored five goals and three assists for eight points with a plus-minus rating of plus-4.

Here's a little more on those games in Mississauga Article: Shugg triggers Majors winJustin Shugg with a 4-point night. (The Saints' #1 Goalie Anderson was replaced at first intermission by Justin Peter 's little brother Anthony who's having a heckuva season in back-up himself). I like how the writer goes with this vivid descriptor: "the ever-dangerous Shugg". has posted the highlight video of Shugg's week on their front page - if I can figure out how to isolate it I will, but for now you'll find it here.

And when you're aiming for an invitation to the Team Canada World Juniors selection process, you can never score enough goals, thus Shugg notched two more in a matinee today, the Majors winning 4-1. This brings Justin Shugg's stats on the season, in 14 games played, to 11G, 10 A, 21 Pts. +10 plus/minus rating and 10 PIM. Not to get ahead of myself, but at this pace he'll surpass Jeff Skinner's numbers last season (which were 50G-40G-90P, in 65 games played)

Nineteen-year-old Finnish defenseman (and Canes training camp invitee this year) Rasmus Rissanen will be on Everett (WA) Silvertips Radio tonight at 9 Eastern. More here.

College notes: Division I Men's Poll :: November 1, 2010 Boston College at #1, UMinn Duluth moves up to #3. Canes defensive prospects Brian Dumoulin (BC, 2nd round, 2009) and  Justin Faulk (UMD, 2nd round, 2010) are both key players on these winning teams.

Another little blurb on Faulk: UMD Bulldogs - Men's Hockey Rookie defenseman Justin Faulk's power play goal -- a blast from the high slot -- at 3:51 into the final period of play vs Bemidji State...... UMD is now 6-0-2 overall

Mark Alt Bio -  University of Minnesota Men's Hockey - highlights some decent achievements so far in the season by the Canes' second rounder from June, Mark Alt. We also learn this "hockeymom-approved" news about the runner-up for Minnesota's "Mr Hockey"

[Alt] graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and was a National Honor Society member.


The Alumni

The Secret Weapon returns, to the delight of the local San Jose press: Revisiting that mayhem-filled 5-2 victory over the Ducks as McLellan gives his players the day off | Working the Corners 

Niclas Wallin knew exactly how long it’d been since his last goal — 89 games — but that may be because that little detail is included for every player in the game notes distributed to the media. Or maybe he just keeps track of such things.


And cruising around the weekly power ratings, I found this in comments at NECN (New England's sports news). 

22. Minnesota Wild (4-4-2, last week: 26) The Wild need to keep tapping into whatever has Matt Cullen cranking away with nine power-play points in 10 games this season. Cullen's efforts have Minnesota scoring on 30.2 percent of their power plays – good for second in the NHL.


In the context of "Keeping on an even keel"...


when your problems are worse than a 5-6 record and a below-freezing faceoff percentage.

Having spent four months recovering from a cut to the foot that subsequently became deeply infected, Penguins' Jordan Staal breaks hand in 'freak' incident - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review A frustrated Jordan Staal left practice Monday morning favoring his right hand after a puck hit it during an otherwise innocent drill.

University of Denver player with broken neck talks to North Dakota opponent who injured him - The Denver Post While recovering from three fractures to his C2 vertebrae today in a Minneapolis hospital, University of Denver center Jesse Martin reached out to the player who inadvertently ended his season. Here's the replay of what happened, if you can stand to watch it.

Foster redefines playing through pain - from the Vancouver Sun, talking with NHL veteran defenseman Kurt Foster and his wife, who's newborn daughter died only five days after she was born last May. They're turning their grief toward reaching out to other parents who have dealt with similar losses.

"It's my first and only tattoo -- I use it as a tool that when I'm on the ice if something happens and I'm mad I look down at it and realize I need to move on," said Kurt Foster, 29. "It's like she's telling me to not worry about the bad pass I made or the poor play -- to focus on the present and not worry about the past."


A lot less heavy, and more about hockey:

This piece from Justin Bourne drew some ire over at Puck Daddy today: Bourne Blog: Why I hate hockey agitators and phony pests - Puck Daddy My question to Canes fans: Does Carolina now (or historically) have this type of player at the NHL club level? We hear Chad LaRose is a pest, but is he "this guy"?

This also seems really relevant to the conversations of Carolina fans: Figure skater teaching hockey players "how to skate" Three minute video from CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.



The Caniac Nation - behind the scenes

Loved this feature talking with the Storm Squad's veterans about why it works in Carolina: After Oilers' backlash, cheerleaders defend their place in NHL - Puck Daddy We wanted to hear from the ladies in question, so last week we reached out to Maggie and Lauren, two members of the Carolina Hurricanes' "Storm Squad," to have them defend presence of cheerleaders inside NHL arenas.

Hard Hits feature: Tailgating - Caniac Cuisine No one does hockey tailgating like the locals 

NHL 2010-11 Goal Celebration Ranking: Eastern Conference - Puck Daddy The Hurricanes are chosen at #1 - though no one knows yet if there's a new track this year (hint: two home games, zero goals). LTD points out that the horn is a holdover from the franchise's origins as the Hartford Whalers. Even better.

Finally, faces in the crowd: Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason at the Garden [Video]  MSG's Al Trautwig talks with the two popular NFL personalities during the first period at MSG during the game Friday.