Not only did the Carolina Hurricanes play their first game without long time captain, Eric Staal, the Canes also had to go most of the game with just nine forwards as they ended up falling to the St. Louis Blues, 5-2 on Sunday in front of 15,102 at the PNC Arena.
Jay McClement, who was previously injured, Kris Versteeg and Riley Nash all left the game sometime after the first period leaving lots of room on the Carolina bench much of the game. The assumption is both Versteeg and Nash could be close to being traded.
Jordan Staal said that he could not remember playing so much of a game with just nine forwards before. "It was definitely a weird game", he said.
After the game, Staal was barraged with questions about his brother's trade which was finalized just before game time. (see video below)
It was a weird game in many ways as General Manager, Ron Francis spoke to the media during the second intermission. He basically said that he and Eric were too far apart on term and that he could not afford to lose an asset like that and get nothing in return. Staal waived his no-trade clause to join the Rangers and Francis was grateful for that.
The Canes came out with some jump initially and after falling behind 1-0 early, took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room after the first period.
Jeff Skinner zipped in a shot off of a Ron Hainsey pass then they switched roles as Skinner got the puck to the defenseman at the blueline and Hainsey sent a blistering shot past Blues' goalie Jake Allen.
Skinner played a very good game in celebration of his 400th career NHL contest.
The Blues would light the lamp just 20 seconds into the second period to tie it, then dominated long stretches after that. They were able to put up 20 shots on goal in the second period alone, the highest the Carolina defense has allowed in one period all season.
In all they got 40 for the game compared to 34 for the Canes.
Bill Peters said after the game that the loss of Staal certainly affected his team.
"I think that has to be a factor for sure. That's reality, right? It definitely plays a part in it." The coach seemed to get a little choked up at the end of the press conference when asked about his personal relationship with his former captain.
For those wondering who will be captain next, there is a long time to worry about that, said the coach. They will wait until next training camp to make that choice.
Carolina will next face New Jersey on Tuesday night in another important game. The Devils are the team immediately ahead of them in the standings. Trade deadline day will be over by then and hopefully the Hurricanes can gather some warm bodies for that game if they do make more trades. We will be following that here at Canes Country.
- Skinner had a game high eight shots on goal. Phillip Di Giuseppe had seven.
- Brad Malone won 88% in the faceoff circle, (7 of 8)
- Jaccob Slavin had four blocked shots and also had a team high 24:24 of ice time.