Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 01/03/09 at 03:55 PM ET
With a 2-1 win over the Blues on Friday night, the Hurricanes moved out of a two-way tie for the eighth spot in the East and into sole possession of seventh place, leapfrogging Buffalo and Pittsburgh in a single bound. Both teams have a game in hand, and both will be in action this afternoon. Carolina will be in Tampa tonight, hoping to fortify their position.
Carolina’s top line of Eric Staal flanked by Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruutu had their second consecutive five point night. Staal scored the game’s first goal while Ruutu and SerSam had two assists apiece. On New Year’s Eve, SerSam had 2/1 while Staal and Ruutu had one assist each. Tonight, they will have a chance to have another very productive night against a bad Tampa team. There are no easy games, but the Bolts are just not very good.
Good things happen when the big line produces. The Canes are 10-0-1 when Staal scores a goal, 4-0-2 when SerSam scores, and s slightly less impressive 6-4-1 when Ruutu scores.
On the other side of the ice, the Bolts are not so impressive when the “MVP” line produces. When Vincent Lacavalier scores a goal, the team is 6-3-3. When Vaclav (who I refuse to call “Vinny”) Prospal tallies a goal, they are 3-1-3. Here’s the real shocker. When Martin St. Louis scores, they are a miserable 2-7-2.
SerSam’s next goal will be the 200th of his career. Here’s to hoping that he gets it tonight. Frantisek Kaberle may or may not play in his 200th Hurricanes game tonight. Word on the street is that Nic “The Secret Weapon” Wallin is close to returning from injury. If Wallin is good to go, Kaberle is the obvious man out.
Joni Pitkänen will be playing in his 300th NHL game.
Tonight, Carolina will hope to get the ball rolling early. Their anemic power play is improving, and Tampa’s defense is hurting badly. Matt Smaby, 2005 first rounder Vladmir Mihalik and 2006 first rounder Ty Wishart have all been called from Norfolk on emergency basis. Collectively, they have 22 games of NHL experience.
Incidentally, Carolina lost Patrick Eaves to an “upper body” injury last night and they have recalled right wing Pat Dwyer from Albany. Dwyer has scored 17 (7/10) for Albany this season and has been called up twice already this season. In a total of 12 Hurricanes games, Dwyer has one goal and was a valuable penalty killer. Eaves’ injury had been reported as a tweak of his oft-injured shoulder, but nothing to be alarmed about.
“It’s muscular and we just hope it settles down…We’re not expecting it to be long-term.”
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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.