Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/03/09 at 10:55 PM ET
On Saturday night, the Hurricanes traveled to Boston and left with a lot of cuts, bruises, and possibly a break. They also lost the game 7-2 to the Bruins.
The first period did not go well, as the Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Marc Savard, Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler. After that, it went from bad to worse as Cam Ward was chased, no fewer than five different Hurricanes players ended up getting cut. One was Eric Staal, who left the game, bloodied, in the second period after being hit in the ear by a teammate’s slapshot. Erik Cole suffered an ugly-looking knee injury late in the game. Carolina managed to score two goals, but if you’re a Canes fan, there really isn’t anything good to take from this game.
In the first frame, the Bruins put 21 shots on Cam Ward, and he was forced to work way harder than he should have. He made some good saves, but the defense didn’t help him out very much. On the first goal, Tim Gleason got all turned around and was no help at all as Marc Savard jumped on a loose puck in front of Ward to score a power play marker at 4:06.
Michael Ryder scored another power play goal at 12:38 when he found himself all alone in the left circle.
Blake Wheeler’s goal was even strength, but he and Steve Begin were 2-1 against Andrew Alberts, who was hopeless.
Carolina had two power play chances in the first period, but they had a terrible time even keeping the puck in the offensive zone. At the end of the period, they only had seven shots on goal, compared to 21 from the Bruins. And this was only the beginning.
Marco Sturm made it 4-0 at 10:37 of the second after Aaron Ward forgot which team he played for. Ward turned the puck over behind Cam Ward’s net, Marc Savard corralled it and gave it to Sturm. Although the 4-0 score wasn’t indicative of poor play by Cam Ward, he was relieved after Sturm’s goal by Michael Leighton.
Dennis Wideman scored the Bruins’ third PP marker of the night at 12:44 to make it an embarrassing 5-0. The first shot that Leighton faced was a blistering one-timer on which he didn’t have any chance.
About this time, the Hurricanes got a really big scare. Eric Staal went down in a bloody heap after being hit in the ear by a rising slapshot off the stick of Matt Cullen. He left the ice under his own power and went to the room, where he stayed for the remainder of the second stanza and into the third. As it happened, we weren’t sure whether he had been hit in the eye or the nose or what. We just knew that he was bleeding badly and needed to leave the game.
Finally, at 15:21 of the second period of the second game, the Hurricanes scored their first goal of the season. From the right dot, Scott Walker tipped in Aaron Ward’s slapshot from the right point. The play went under review as Walker’s stick might have been high, but the goal was allowed to stand. Sergei Samsonov got the secondary assist.
Very late in the second period, Canes defenseman Jay Harrison was destroyed by Milan Lucic in a heavyweight fight. Both players left with bloody faces, but Harrison absolutely took the worst of it. As soon as the puck dropped, a donnybrook ensued wherein Tom Kostopoulos and Zdeno Chara were the primary combatants. When the dust settled, there were a total of 42 penalty minutes assessed in a span of three game seconds.
After taking 28 stitches, Eric Staal returned to the game for the third period, and immediately made his mark. He was involved in a scuffle just 20 seconds into the final period. Then, he scored his first goal of the season at 2:41 of the third. The Bruins were found guilty of having too many men on the ice, and on the ensuing power play, Tuomo Ruutu made a big hit behind Tim Thomas’ net. Eric Staal gathered the puck, faked a pass across the slot and slid a shot through Thomas’ five hole. The power play goal was unassisted.
Matt Hunwick finished the scoring at 8:29, scoring the fourth power play goal of the game. Clearly, the Canes have some work to do. The penalty killers allowed the Bruins to convert four of eight power plays. Meanwhile, the Canes power play only converted one of ten. So far on the season, they have converted one of 18 power play chances. It doesn’t take a statistician to tell you that that’s a lousy conversion rate.
Just after that goal, another fight broke out, and for the second time, a Canes player was pounded by his combatant. This time, it was Andrew Alberts getting owned by Shawn Thornton.
The scoring might have ended there, but the bad news kept coming for Carolina. With about two and a half minutes to go, Dennis Wideman delivered a legal hip check against Erik Cole. Unfortunately, Cole’s left knee bent in the direction that it’s not supposed to bend. He was helped off the ice and was obviously done for the night. No word yet, but it doesn’t look good.
Also in the third period, Nic Wallin and Rod Brind’Amour were cut by Bruins’ high sticks. Neither player had to leave the game, and the Canes were unable to convert on either of the two double minor penalty sequences.
Marc Savard, who had three (1/2) points was the first star of the game. Steve Begin (0/2) and Marco Sturm (1/1) were the second and third star, respectively. I would have given Derek Morris (0/2) the second star, but that’s just me.
By the looks of Cole’s leg folding in the wrong direction, I’d have to think that he’ll miss a handful of games. If that’s the case, somebody’s going to have to slot over into that first line right wing position. The obvious choice is Tuomo Ruutu. After a bunch of line juggling, there’s going to be an opening. Not for Brandon Sutter, though. For Zach Boychuk. Sutter is a center, and that’s not what the Hurricanes need.
The Canes will have two days off to assess Erik Cole, work on the specialty teams, and get ready for a less formidable opponent. On Tuesday, the Canes will host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unlike the Flyers and Bruins, the Bolts are not expected to be Cup contenders in the spring.
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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.