Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 01/16/09 at 04:34 PM ET
On Thursday night, with a nearly full house, the Hurricanes lost a very exciting game 6-4 to the Leafs. The game was pretty much a microcosm of the Hurricanes season. Long stretches of disappointment punctuated with brief but intense moments of inspiration. It was also one of the most intense regular season games I’ve ever attended.
The Canes stood around for 37 minutes while the Leafs built a 4-0 lead. Then they got a fluky goal from Matt Cullen with about two to play in the second. The Canes came out on fire in the third, completely owning the first 12 minutes of the period. On second period markers from Tuomo Ruutu, Eric Staal and Scott Walker, Carolina climbed all the way back to tie the game. And then the wheels fell off.
Carolina gave up a four-on-three power play goal to Tomas Kaberle late in the third, then an empty netter from Jason Blake. It completed the hat trick for Blake and closed the scoring out at 6-4.
It was another painful loss, the fourth in a row. However, some good things did happen, even if that only lasted 14 minutes.
I was very disappointed to see that Paul Maurice did a bunch of line-shaking. Even the top line of Ruutu/Staal/Samsonov was separated early in the game. Fortunately, they were reunited for the third period, just in time to mount a rally.
One of the most disappointing things about the game is that Cam Ward gave up three goals on the first nine Leafs shots. It’s hard to win games that way. One of the goals was on a ridiculously easy wrap-around right after the Leafs withstood a barrage of Canes chances on the other end.
As Tim Gleason (whose bobble-head likeness is much more tanned than the real-life Timmy) lamented during the first intermission, the Canes were getting outhit. He referred to the (lack of) physicality as “terrible”. He took matters into his own hands, though and ended up leading all players with five hits. Even when we include Gleason’s hit parade, the Leafs outhit the Canes 27-20. It’s not just the hits, though. There’s a complete lack of forechecking, there’s not much backchecking at all, and the Canes are falling back into the mire of letting opposing players camp out on Cam Ward’s doorstep.
Jason Blake was a beast. In addition to his three goals, he picked up two helpers for a five point night. Jiri “internet porn star” Tlusty also had a big game, getting three assists.
Eric Staal, Matt Cullen and Scott Walker each had a goal and an assist for the Canes. Ray Whitney had two assists. The Wizard is quietly having another good season with 37 (13/24) points. Eric Staal has struggled at times, but is slowly creeping his way back to Staal-esque form. He’s got 34 (19/15) points right now, but looks to have gotten out of his early-season funk.
Up next, the Hurricanes begin a four-game road trip in Buffalo. More on that in a moment.
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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.