Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/09/09 at 06:40 AM ET
On Friday night at the RBC Center, the Hurricanes will host the Florida Panthers for the first time this season. It’s sandwiched between two Tampa Bay games and is the front end of Carolina’s second back-to-back of the season.
So far this season, Carolina has been unable to find the back of the net with a compass, a road map and a native guide. In three games, they’ve scored a total of just three goals. There are eight individual players throughout the league who have scored more goals this season than the entire Hurricanes roster. Hopefully tonight’s the night when the Canes figure out how to score.
Tonight, Carolina will be donning their third unis, the all-black outfit for the first time this season. They’re scheduled to wear them for 15 home games, and will probably wear them for at least one road game as well. Last season, the Hurricanes were 10-5-2 whilst wearing the third sweater, including 10-5-0 at home.
The mercurial Erik Cole has a broken leg and will be out until Thanksgiving. Tuomo Ruutu has moved up to the Staal line, with Sergei Samsonov on the other side. I liked this line quite a bit last winter, and I’m hoping that they’ll get the ball rolling offensively.
This is, again, an opportunity for Chad LaRose to get some big minutes on the second line. He was a major cog in the wheel last winter and spring, and I’m optimistically hoping for a 50-point campaign from him this season. Thus far he has fewer points (0) than even Cam Ward (1). I think that he and some of the other Canes forwards will get points tonight, but it has to start with Staal.
In the first two games, Carolina’s power play was nightmarish. 0-8 in the first game and 1-10 in the second. In their only win of the season, the Canes were 1-4 on the man advantage. Two for 24 is nothing to write home about, and I would bet that they’ve spent a lot of time on the power play in practice. If nothing else, I’d at least like to see them get more SOG during the power plays.
Joni Pitkänen missed the first two games of the season recovering from knee surgery. He played for half of the game on Tuesday before developing some soreness and tightness in that knee. His status is uncertain for Friday, and if he can’t go, Jay Harrison will. This has been another issue that’s slowed the Hurricanes here in the early going, but Pitkänen’s absence from the lineup is no excuse for poor performance by the PP units.
I’m still at a loss to explain or even understand the situation with Tim Conboy. The knuckle-dragging two-way player signed a two year contract last summer which included a one-way deal for this season. When Cole got hurt, Jim Rutherford and Paul Maurice put their faith in Conboy by putting him in the lineup instead of scratching him and calling up Drayson Bowman or Zach Boychuk from Albany. He ended up with more PIM (5) than TOI (3:20). I suspect that tonight will be no different. I’ll hold my position that he’s going to do better for the team sitting in the press box than in the penalty box.
After this game, the Hurricanes will head down to Tampa for the second meeting of this young season against the Bolts. Dating back to the 2007-08 season, Carolina has won eight straight against Tampa.
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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.