Red and Black Hockey
Tonight, Erik Cole and the Edmonton Oilers will play their first game of the season, at home against the Avs. I will be among the Caniac nation keeping an eye on our boy.
The Oilers fans have high hopes for him, as well they should. Cole spent six seasons here in Carolina electrifying fans with his speed, skill, creativity and toughness. Cole scored 129 regular season goals for the Canes and six playoff goals, all of which came in 2002. By far and away, the biggest goal he’s ever scored was the game-tying goal in the Miracle at Molson. If Cole doesn’t score that goal, the Habs would have gone up three games to one in the Eastern semifinals. Instead, the Canes tied it, forced overtime and won. That absolutely killed the Habs. Carolina won the next two games easily to win the series, then beat Toronto in six games en route to losing the Stanley Cup to Detroit in five games.
For the second time in as many nights, the Hurricanes dug a hole for themselves in the first period. For the second time, they climbed all the way out. This time, they needed overtime to do it, but they beat the Lightning 4-3.
On Friday night, Carolina got scoring from a bunch of unlikely sources. Tonight, they brought out the big guns. Matt Cullen had one marker, Rod Brind’Amour had one, and Eric Staal had two, including the game-winner.
Carolina was very sluggish and undisciplined early on, but as the game wore on, they were the team with all the jump and none of the penalties.
Carolina opened their 11th season on Friday with a wild game against division foe Florida and a 6-4 win. It wasn’t pretty, but two points in the standings look good any day of the week.
The Hurricanes stumbled out of the gates, giving up two goals in the first six minutes of the contest, but settled in nicely with goals from six different players and assists from seven different players. At the end of it all, Tim Gleason earned the game’s first star with three assists.
Recap and notes after the jump
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Tags: brandon+sutter, carolina+hurricanes, florida+panthers, frantisek+kaberle, game+recap, joni+pitkanen, tim+gleason
With opening night puck drop just a few minutes away, I wanted to introduce a feature to RBH. Every weekday at work, I do something just for fun. I write our daily specials on a chalkboard, and on that board I also predict the outcome of some NHL games. Today I have made four predictions. Yesterday, I made four, and none of them were perfect.
For today, I’ve picked
- the Canes to beat the Panthers 4-2
- the Sabres to beat the Habs 3-2
- the Blackhawks to beat the Rangers 4-1, and
- the Devils to beat the Islanders 2-1.
I’ll write a full game recap and evaluate my picks after the game.
The unbearably long wait is finally over. Tonight is opening night for Carolina and 12 other teams. Thousands of hockey fans in Carolina will be cutting out of work early, or skipping work altogether. The RBC Center parking lot will fill up early and the sweet sweet smell of propane and grilled meat will be thick. Cold beer and loud music will be coming from every tailgate. Friendships will be renewed and new ones will be forged. The sun will be shining and the birds will be singing. It’s hockey night in Carolina.
Unfortunately, I won’t be there for opening night. Instead, for the first time since 2001, I’ll be watching the home opener from RBH headquarters.
Earlier, Paul wrote about a scheduling problem in the City of Tampa. It seems that some professional baseball team from the Bay area is participating in some post-season tournament, and one of their games is scheduled for the same time as the Bolts home opener against Carolina on Saturday.
Under normal circumstances, the city would just cope with it, as Detroit did when both the Red Wings and Pistons were simultaneously playing home playoff games on the same night last summer. Or they might petition the league to move the start time of one or the other game. In this case, Carolina has veto power on bumping up the start time of the hockey game because they will be on the back end of a back-to-back, and the proposed start time of 5:00 would be just 19 hours after the end of Friday’s game. Carolina said “thanks but no thanks”, and certain people have been rubbed the wrong way.
Carolina is used to having grenades lobbed its way by the press from the Sunshine State, but this is getting really silly.
On Tuesday, the Hurricanes announced their final roster cuts. Defenseman/Right Wing Tim “We Got us a Great Big” Conboy, left wing Trevor Gillies and winger Joe Jensen have been sent to Albany, putting the roster at 25 men. Justin Williams and Scott Walker are on the injured reserve, so that unofficially puts them at 23, where they need to be for opening night.
It hurts a little bit to see Conboy sent down, as he has been a RBH favorite, but he was injured during camp and didn’t get much of a chance to play. He will most likely have a few cups of coffee this winter, but he’ll begin the season at the AHL level.
The big news here is that free agent try-out Dan LaCouture has made the final roster, as has 2008 first round draft selection Zach Boychuk. In all likelihood, Boychuk will play in nine or fewer games, then be returned to Lethbridge of the WHL. He is still recovering from surgery and hasn’t been cleared for contact yet, so he’ll be a scratch on opening night. It looks like the lines will look like this:
Today, I expected to hear some news about final cuts made to the Hurricanes roster. Instead, I came home to learn that forward Scott Walker will be out of the lineup for the next six weeks. Walker, who has become more of a hothead with every passing month, injured his left hand in a fight during last Sunday’s preseason game in Philly. He had surgery today and will miss the first quarter of the season.
Things were starting to look a little better on the injury front, but this will throw a wrench in the opening night plans.
No cuts have been made, and the roster stands at 28, but free agent tryout Dan LaCouture was signed to a two-way one-year contract today. The 31-year old has played in a total of 326 NHL games with five different teams, and has been out of the NHL since 2006-07. According to all reports, he came into camp in terrific shape and has impressed the coaches all along.
At this point, anyone’s guess is just as good as mine, but here’s my updated projections for the opening night lines:
After losing the first three exhibition games (and looking bad doing so) the Hurricanes rattled off three straight wins to finish the preseason. Carolina will start playing games that count on Friday with a home game against the Panthers.
Eric Staal and Ray Whitney scored today for a 2-0 shutout over the Preds. Cam Ward went the distance, making 31 stops with both teams pretty much fielding the “A team”.
For the first time all preseason, Rod Brind’Amour played. He skated 19 shifts for a total of 15:04 of ice time. He took just 13 of the faceoffs, compared to 17 taken by Brandon Sutter. This was pretty much the plan: to use him sparingly.
As expected, the Hurricanes and their top pick Zach Boychuk came to terms on Saturday on a three year contract that is exactly the same as the one Brandon Sutter signed in March.
As the signing came on Boychuk’s 19th birthday, it was a pretty sweet birthday present. From the N&O:
I’ve had some good presents in the past but I don’t know if any can top this one… I’m excited.
Exciting indeed. I think I got a watch for my 19th birthday.
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.