Welcome to the new hit show: Ex-Canes Gone Wild. No, this is not a Vegas burlesque show - although I’m sure some of our readers wish it were - but instead we are talking about how two former Hurricanes had their way with the Canes last night. The Minnesota Wild flexed their muscles in route to a 6-2 victory which featured both Matt Cullen and Eric Staal (twice) scoring while chasing their former Cup winning teammate Cam Ward from his net.
So many times this year we have seen this story. The Canes do not show up to play and get their rear ends handed to them. There is no in between with this team. When they are clicking they can go out and beat any team in this league and actually look like a playoff team. Then they quickly remind you why there will once again be no postseason hockey in Raleigh this year with games like last night.
Jordan Staal was facing his brother in what is still a majorly emotional time for him, and Justin Faulk was playing his only game in his home state. Seems like this would be not only motivation for both of them, but for the entire team to rally around their Captains. Nope.
The glimmer of a playoff spot fading to black should be motivation right? Nope.
But the theory that if a player doesn't show up he will be benched for hungry players in Charlotte absolutely must be a motivator on a team... right? Yeah...nope (although this one really falls on Ron Francis’ shoulders).
No better words can sum up all of this better than this one from Brett.
The two most valuable players on the Hurricanes made themselves known tonight, as Derek Ryan and Phil Di Giuseppe were the only Canes players who scored.— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) March 7, 2018
* Sigh *
Lights, Camera, Action
Back to that ex-Canes gone wild thing. Did Eric not hear that his beloved old team is facing their best chance at a playoff spot since 2011? Could he not take pity on us and Jordan and just keep his ridiculously good season in wraps for a game? Apparently not. Eric opened the scoring for the game and would also pot the Wild’s 5th goal on a partial breakaway. The irony in all of this is that Eric Staal had become totally ineffective with Carolina, and they then (justifiably) traded him, yet now he is exactly the type of player the Canes need.
To add salt to the wound Matt Cullen would follow this up by scoring his ninth goal of the year putting Minnesota up 6-1.
MATT CULLEN SCORCHES ONE HOME! WILD UP 6-1! pic.twitter.com/aZ7E2rHNZg— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 7, 2018
The irony here is that Cullen, again, is exactly the type of player the Hurricanes need! He would be the perfect fit for a third/fourth line center and he brings the determination and leadership of Justin Williams every game.
Can we swap Victor Rask and Derek Ryan for Staal and Cullen... Please? We will even throw in Marcus Kruger for good measure.
But seriously, four of the five remaining players still on the ice from 2006 just faced off against each other and there was a clear advantage to one side. Staal and Cullen have found life and showed off by running Wild on Carolina.
We all know Scott Darling is going to get thrown to the wolves tomorrow night right? Similiar story lines for him, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Teuvo Teravainen, and potentially Joakim Nordstrom all returning to play in Chicago. While the last three will want to win this one will fall more on Darling than anyone. His palms will be sweaty, knees weak, arms shall be heavy. I’m guessing he’ll be nervous but surely won’t be calm and ready. He’ll open his five hole, goals come pouring in. He’s choking, everybody in Chicago is joking. The clock runs out, season over, blow!
Now snap back to reality, we’re still probably going to watch him fail against his old team but, hopefully, there will be no more terrible raps to go along with it. (Ed. note: truer words have never been written.)
The Canes are four points back of the second wild card spot, but more importantly they are two points back of Florida who has three games in hand over everyone in the race. Somehow the Hurricanes need to put together a long winning streak. To even get to just 92 points, which puts them somewhat in the ballpark, they would need to get 23 points in 15 games. Is it possible? Well, yes, especially if they can somehow put together a streak of points in 10+ games.
But is it likely? I’m going to take bets on seeing Stormy and Caroline flying together in the sky before I take bets on the Canes getting in to the playoffs at this point.
Moral of the Story
The scandalous Ex-Canes had their way with the current Canes while all Caniacs are seeing the glimmer of hope fading to a near non-existent point. It’s an ugly story that has plagued the Canes all year and it is all center around two words: consistency and determination. There are pieces missing to this team and Ron Francis has to do something to fix them this offseason and that will require more than just cherry picking off the Canes next opponent. As for that upcoming game, unfortunately I will be working, but I surely hope someone will keep me informed while Scott Darling loses himself.