Red and Black Hockey
On Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes won the front end of a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs by the score of 6-4. Carolina had been pretty anemic of late, particularly on the power play, but they scored a season high six goals including three power play markers to take the two standings points.
Six different Hurricanes scored goals and nine different guys had at least one assist. In all, ten guys had scoring points, including rookie Dwight Helminen, who got a goal and an assist in his third NHL game. He also earned the official first star of the game.
This was just the second time that Carolina wore their new third sweater uniform, and the first win.
Unfortunately, the Canes had to add one more player to the list of injured men, as Patrick Eaves left the game during the second period with an undisclosed illness.
On Saturday, the Hurricanes returned home after a long trip to face a team just starting a long road trip and deep into a losing streak. Unfortunately for the Canes, Edmonton was able to put an end to their losing ways and the visitors came out with a 3-1 win. In the process, Canes forward Matt Cullen joined the injury list. Today is Cully’s 32nd birthday, but he’ll have to spend it in the pressbox with five other injured Canes.
Today, the Hurricanes will be facing the Edmonton Oilers. It’ll be the first time since October 13 that they’ve played at home. Thankfully, I got a personal phone call from Scott Walker to remind me that today’s game was a 3:00 matinee. Okay, so it wasn’t so much a “personal call” as a recorded message sent out to all season ticket holders, but there’s no need to split hairs.
Carolina returns home after a successful six game roadtrip, during which they earned eight of a possible 12 points (3-1-2). After winning their first four games, the Oil have lost five games in a row. This is the second of seven straight road games for Edmonton, who won’t return home until November 13. Being on the road for that long sucks, but the Oilers got a little bit of rest and home cooking this weekend when they stayed at Erik Cole’s home in Raleigh. On Friday, he and his wife Emily hosted the entire team for dinner at the house he still owns in Raleigh.
Cole was a fan favorite here, and his homecoming will be bitter-sweet for everyone.
On Thursday night, Carolina will wrap up their longest roadtrip of the season when they visit St. Louis at 8:30 eastern time. They have been forced onto the road, as they are every October, because of the North Carolina State Fair, which has its fairgrounds adjacent to the RBC Center.
On Tuesday, the Canes played a pretty good game in Montrßal, earning one standings point in a shootout loss I neglected to blog that game, but each team had one cheap goal and one good goal. The game went to shootout and Saku Koivu was the man.
Carolina has gone 2-1-2 so far on this road trip, locking up six of a possible ten points. Tonight, they will face a team who has elevated its status from perennial laughing stock to early contender. In the meeting of the two teams last season, Manny Legace pitched a 1-0 shutout for the Blues.
Rod Brind’Amour is riding a two game point streak. Other stats after the jump
On Sunday afternoon, we learned a few details about the injuries on Saturday.
Defenseman Joni Pitkänen suffered a meniscus tear in his knee. He’ll undergo surgery in Raleigh on Monday and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
Center Brandon Sutter suffered a concussion and was released from a hospital on Long Island. He will spend some time with his family in New Jersey before coming back to Raleigh sometime next week.
Meanwhile, the Islanders are exercising their right not to disclose injury information, but they have reported that goalie Rick DiPietro will visit a doctor to have an undisclosed injury examined. It’s unknown how long he’ll be out, but they’ve called up a reserve goaltender. It’s an ongoing saga there with Ricky and his health, and here’s the latest.
Carolina will recall Dwight Helminen from Albany to replace Sutter.
A lot has been made of the devastating hit that Doug Weight laid on Carolina rookie Brandon Sutter last night. There are a lot of different opinions out there, and I thought it would be appropriate to offer my opinion. Not just as a Carolina Hurricanes fan, but a hockey fan.
What happened happened. Sutter was trying to make a fancy move, playing the puck off the boards to himself. He reached for the puck and put his head down for half a second. That’s all it took. He never saw Weight coming, and Weight had no way of anticipating that Sutter would lunge, lowering his head. Add the speed of the play into the equation, and it’s just a really unfortunate play.
In just about any other league, a penalty would have been called. Regardless of intent, a player has to be responsible with his shoulders and elbows, and he must not hit a player above the shoulders. The NHL doesn’t have any specific rules on blows to the head. By the letter of the law, this was a clean hit. It wasn’t interference, it wasn’t charging. It was just a huge open ice hit.
Some Canes fans, including one prominent blogger are upset with Doug and wish there would have been some form of frontier justice. I can’t board that train. Then again, some folks still haven’t let go of the Orpik/Cole incident.
On Saturday, the Hurricanes needed some big-time heroics from goaltender Cam Ward to hang on to a 4-3 victory. Although he was on the bench for the two previous games, he wasn’t the least bit rusty. He made 57 saves, including a stop on a penalty shot with less than one second to play in regulation. He was easily the game’s first star by anyone’s account. Except, of course, the Islanders radio network, which picks the “official” three stars. Somehow, they left Ward off the card entirely. Although the game ended well, it wasn’t all pie and cake for Carolina.
The Hurricanes got off to a good start, pushing off to a 2-0 lead early in the first. The last time the Hurricanes led a game 2-0 was March 28 of last season in a 7-1 win over the Thrashers. Throughout the second and third periods, the Canes committed one penalty after another, putting themselves perpetually on the PK. The good news is that the defense responded well to that, killing seven of eight penalties. But there was bad news They gave up a shorthanded goal, and they lost two players to injury.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes lost 4-1 to the Penguins. Carolina led though two periods, but things went very badly in a hurry for the Canes, and in the end Brandon Sutter’s first NHL goal was in vain. The game went from awesome to crappy in about two minutes. Unfortunately, a good portion of North Carolina was unable to see for themselves.
I live in Greensboro, which is about 70 miles from Raleigh. I have never had a problem with Fox Sports South. Unfortunately, I and a lot of other viewers had a major problem on Thursday. We were unable to watch the Canes because our game was replaced with the feed to the Nashville Predators game.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes will play the third of six straight road games when they travel to Pittsburgh. Carolina has been off since winning in Anaheim on Saturday, and they elected to spend that time in Raleigh rather than setting up shop in Pittsburgh. For some time now, Carolina has opted out of the morning skate when they’re on the road, but this time, they added a new twist to the itinerary. Rather than travel to Pittsburgh one day early, they flew out this morning, allowing the players to spend an extra night with their families.
The maneuver has been met with a lot of “whatever” and “it is what it is” comments.
Traditionally, Eric Staal would have had dinner with Jordan the night before the game and stayed with him. Instead, they won’t see each other until game time.
Carolina hasn’t made any roster moves to make up for the three injured forwards, so I expect them to dress seven defensemen tonight and double shift Staal a lot.
After two games with the big team, the Hurricanes have decided to return their 2008 first round pick Zach Boychuk to his junior team. Since he played in less than nine NHL games, his contract hasn’t kicked in yet. He will return to the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the Western Hockey League.
The 19-year old was second on Lethbridge last season with 72 (33/39) points and was tops with 21 (13/8) points in the WHL playoffs.
Boychuk is underage and ineligible for AHL play, and according to NHL rules, he can’t be brought back up this season. From today’s N&O:
The first year of his entry-level contract now rolls over to next season; the Canes cannot recall him or send him to Albany (AHL) until Lethbridge’s season ends.
Scott Walker, Tuomo Ruutu and Justin Williams are all still out of the lineup with injuries, and Boychuk’s departure leaves one fourth line wing position available…
About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.