Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/14/08 at 12:15 AM ET
On Monday, the Hurricanes lost their first game of the season 3-1 to the Red Wings. Even though they lost the game, the Hurricanes can take some good things out of the game.
They also debuted their new alternate third sweater, which is actually a whole uniform. They looked stealthy and ninja-like with their black socks, black pants, black gloves, black sweater and black lids. I like the uniform in action even more than I thought I would. I wasn’t in the building tonight, but they looked sharp on teevee.
Unlike the first two games, Carolina actually looked good in all three zones in the first period. Like the first two games, they were scored upon first. Unlike the first two games, they were unable to come back.
Nik Lidstrom started off the scoring at 6:55 of the first period with a power play goal assisted by Pavel Datsyuk. His blast from the blue line beat a screened Cam Ward on the glove side.
Carolina had some grade-A scoring chances in the first period, all of which either sailed wide or were stopped by Ty Conklin. At one point, Conklin misplayed a goofy carom off the end wall and would up waaaaaay out of position. Fortunately for him and the Wings, the puck ended up below the right circle, almost below the goal line. Even with the net wide open, the angle from there was too difficult, and he got away unscathed.
Joe Corvo scored his first goal of the year at 0:57 of the second frame to tie the game. During a four-on-four sequence, he found himself all alone in the high slot. Ray Whitney fed him a great pass and he buried it. Frantisek Kaberle got the secondary helper.
Just a few moments later, Conklin made the save of the game on Brandon Sutter as he attempted to finish a nifty two-on-one rush. Conklin had to move from post-to-post, and it looked for all the world like he was beaten, but somehow he made a dazzling last second save. The goal light came on, the goal horn sounded, but the puck was very clearly NOT across the line.
Tomas Holmstrom put the Wings up 2-1 on a gorgeous power play goal from point blank range at 5:04 of the second. Maid Marian Hossa made a beautiful pass from the left wing to Holmstrom on the doorstep. Brian Rafalski got the other assist.
Later still in the second, Conklin was forced to make a dandy of a save on Ryan Bayda as he made a bid for a shorthanded breakaway goal. That whole period, Bayda was outstanding on the forecheck and it would have been fitting for him to pot a goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Bayda has been working his tail off for the last few years, getting nothing more than an occasional call-up. That’s paid off with a one-way contract and a permanent spot on the roster.
Carolina got some pretty good offensive pressure in the third, as did Detroit. The Wings clanged no fewer than two shots off posts, and both goaltenders made fantastic saves.
After Carolina’s defensemen thwarted two attempts at the empty net, Henrik Zetterberg finally found it at 19:45 to put the game away 3-1.
Overall, Carolina actually looked pretty good. They were much better on the forecheck than they had been in the first two games. They were much better getting out of their own way. They were much better taking away time and space from their opponents. They were much more physical. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t get anything going offensively.
Once again, Brandon Sutter looked fantastic. He looks very composed and is an excellent penalty killer. He needs some work in the face-off circle, but aside from that, there are no complaints about his game. He had some good scoring chances, as he has in every game so far. Eventually, those “good scoring chances” will turn into “nice goals”. I’ll reevaluate after about 15 or 20 games, but as of right now, I’m a huge fan.
The “official” three stars went to Nik Lidstrom (third), Cam Ward (second) and Ty Conklin (first). Mine are a little different.
The RBH three stars:
THIRD STAR Cam Ward, CAR—- 33 saves
SECOND STAR Marian Hossa, DET—- assist on GWG
FIRST STAR Ty Conklin, DET—- 27 saves
Carolina won’t play again until Friday, when they start their six-game road trip in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the Canes still won’t get to play against Jack Johnson, who is injured. He was also injured when the Kings came to visit in February of 2007. The two teams didn’t play last season.
There is a good chance that Carolina’s 2008 first round draft pick Zach Boychuk will make his NHL debut during that road trip, as soon as Friday. After wrist surgery, he’s been cleared for full contact. The Canes are free to try him out for as many as nine games before his NHL contract kicks in.
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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.