Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/03/11 at 11:28 PM ET
On Sunday, Carolina had a chance to put their destiny into their own hands. Regardless of the outcome of the Rangers/Flyers game, if the Canes had beaten Buffalo in regulation, they would have moved ahead of Buffalo and into the playoff mix. More importantly, they would have put themselves in a situation where they could control their own playoff destiny. Things didn’t go well. They went badly. Not catastrophically bad, but it wasn’t good.
The Rangers won their game in a shootout, and that hurts the Canes. However, t’s potentially an advantage to the Canes that it was a shootout win. Carolina lost their own game to Buffalo, 2-1 in overtime. The consolation point is small consolation, but it might actually play a huge role on the final day of the season.
Carolina now finds themselves two points behind the Rangers and three behind the Sabres with three games remaining for each team. Although it isn’t a mathematical impossibility, catching the Sabres is extraordinarily improbable at this point. To catch the Rangers, Carolina’s “magic number” is eight. Any number of points that the Rangers fail to earn and points that the Hurricanes earn totaling eight will catapult Carolina over NYR.
The Rangers have three remaining games. All at home. They have the Bruins on Monday, the Thrashers on Thursday and the Devils on Saturday. Carolina’s schedule is a lot tougher. They host the Red Wings on Wednesday, they visit Atlanta on Friday, then they host the Bolts on Saturday.
If the Rangers lose in regulation on Monday and the Canes pick up a ROW on Wednesday, it’ll be back to where Carolina can control its own destiny by winning out.
In Carolina’s loss on Saturday, both Sabres goals were from no-name blueliners. Each got his first marker of the season. Chris Butler scored in the first period. In the overtime session, Marc-Andre Gragnani, who had only appeared in five games this season, got a pinball-type goal that bounced off at least two Hurricanes players before going in the net. Ugly goals and pretty goals all look the same in the box score, though.
Carolina’s only goal came in the second period off the stick of Eric Staal. It was a lucky bounce that went high in the air and, almost in slow motion, fluttered over the shoulder of netminder Jhonas Enroth. I thought that it was Chad LaRose’s goal on a tip, but I guess they said that the deflection was off a Sabres stick in front of the net. Enroth played extremely well and deserved the win. He was forced into action when Ryan Miller was injured last week by a puck to the collarbone. He’s definitely held his own against Washington on Saturday and Carolina on Sunday. Hats off to him.
I’ll say the same thing that I always say, and it makes me unpopular among the Caniacs and Canes bloggers: I had no problem, and have never had a problem with Sabres fans. There are a lot of transplants down here, and they turn out in good numbers and they cheer for their team loudly. There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Nobody’s ever been rude to me, and I’ve never witnessed any acts of violence or anything like that. In the 2006 ECF, I saw some Sabres fans smashing the giveaway pint glasses in the parking lot, but you kind of have to expect that when you give away a glass, people are going to break them. I’ve seen Buffalo fans leaving enormous piles of garbage in the parking lot, but I’ve also seen Canes fans do that. All of the people who I’ve talked to have been pleasant, and happy to be here. Maybe I’ve got blinders on or something, but I’ve seriously never witnessed any of this boorish behavior that allegedly runs rampant. I seriously think that some Caniacs want to believe that Sabres fans are jerks, and if they witness one jerk, they use that to justify their prejudice.
There was one time at a Sabres game when I was seated directly behind the Sabres bench, in a section with a ton of Sabres fans. One of them started to be just a tiny bit disrespectful, but he was quickly taken to task by some of his fellow Sabres fans. That’s the kind of thing that people don’t want to talk about. Instead, they want to talk about that one person they saw in the parking lot who was damaging car hoods and stealing car flags. That might be a bad person, and you can bet that other Sabres fans wouldn’t want to claim him as one of their own. There are stories about fights being instigated, but I’ve never seen it.
Canes fans do dumb things too. Some Canes fans abuse visiting fans. Some Canes fans use really foul language in front of kids. Some Canes fans get wasted and obnoxious. That’s just an example of a person being a jerk regardless of the crest on their sweater.
I’ve had Canes fans tell me that so-and-so’s brother’s friend was roughed up by a gang of Sabres fans, and I’ve had people say that a friends of theirs witnessed some nasty stuff, but none of that is my experience. They have their stories and I have mine.
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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.