Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 01/09/10 at 01:37 AM ET
This season has been a house of horrors for the Canes. Not only have they been losing a lot of games, but they’ve been losing a lot of players too. For Friday night’s game against the Avalanche, six skaters were from the American League. For Sunday’s game against the Senators, we’ll need to make that seven.
Back in late October, the Canes traveled to Denver where they lost a rollercoaster game to the Avs. In that game, Tuomo Ruutu was given a boarding major, game misconduct and a two game suspension for running Darcy Tucker from behind. Ruutu was taken to task for this, and he won the battle but lost the war.
Carolina won the game 2-1, just barely finding a way to deny Cam Ward his first shutout of the season. There were some really good things in this game. Losing Tuomo Ruutu to injury is not one of them. The Hurricanes will now have to make another call down to Albany, where the cupboard is beginning to run bare.
Just a few minutes into the game, Darcy Tucker challenged Ruutu to a bout of fisticuffs. This was expected, and Ruutu complied as any honest hockey player would. The fight didn’t last long and Ruutu had the upper hand. Unfortunately, he also had a broken hand. He went to the room immediately and apparently left the arena in street clothes just a few minutes later. The official deliberately obtuse word is “upper body injury”, but we all know it’s his hand. I was in the arena, and word quickly spread that he would not be back. If this is indeed a broken hand, he’ll be out for some time and may have to miss the Olympics.
If Ruutu has to be withdrawn from the Olympics, it would swing the door wide open for Jussi Jokinen, who deserved to make the Finnish team on his own merits.
What’s more certain is that it’ll create an immediate opening on the Hurricanes roster. They’re already without Erik Cole, Eric Staal, Scott Walker, Chad LaRose and Sergei Samsonov. Now add Tuomo Ruutu and there’s six top nine players out with injury. Staal’s situation is a family matter, and he still won’t be available on Sunday, so the Canes get to make another call to Albany.
Drayson Bowman is the most likely candidate for call-up, He’s got 13 (6/7) points for the Rats this season. Mike Angelidis has the same stats and is another possibility. Tim Conboy has a one-way contract and would have to be put on re-entry waivers if he got the call. Anyway, he’s not anybody I want to see in a Hurricanes sweater ever again.
Still another possibility is the Quebec-born Stephane Chaput, who was a late-round draft pick in 2006. He’s got 21 (7/14) points for the Rats.
The Canes won Friday’s game, which is great and all, but the injury to Ruutu is just one more bad thing to add onto the pile of horrible things.
Cam Ward played really well, missing a shutout by just 15 seconds. Carolina’s defense and especially the penalty kill played very well. Ray Whitney had two goals including a highlight reel outside-in move in the first period. Matt Cullen was really good. Rod Brind’Amour looked like a hockey player instead of a traffic cone. Aaron Ward played a very nearly mistake-free game and managed to look like an NHL defenseman at times. There were definitely good things.
Eventually this humongous list of injured players from the top six will shrink. These players will become healthy. The problem is that this season is pretty much already wasted. The flip-side is that the Rat Pack have gained good NHL experience and will hit the ground running next season when some of them will be expected to be every day players.
Carolina will stay at home and face the Sens on Sunday. By then, we may know more about Ruutu. Staal won’t be expected back until Tuesday (at Toronto) at the very earliest.
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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.