Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/06/10 at 01:50 PM ET
On Friday night, the Hurricanes lost a roller coaster ride of a game in the front end of a back-to-back, home-and-home with the Florida Panthers. Last night’s result in Sunrise was a 7-4 loss that featured six goals and three lead changes in the first period alone. The plan all along has been to start Cam Ward in goal for both games of the set, but he might get a rest tonight. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. Last season, when he wasn’t healthy, he excelled in the back end of back-to-back games.
Tonight, the teams will do it all again in the RBC Center, and hopefully the outcome will be better for Canes fans.
I was in Charlotte, supporting the Checkers in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay Lightning). Incidentally, they are in the same situation with a back-to-back, home-and-home set. The Checkers are smack in the middle of a grueling five games in six nights set.
I had forgotten to set the DVR for the Hurricanes game, but thanks to the new technology from Time-Warner Cable, I was able to use my phone to program it while I was at the Checkers game. Unfortunately, I couldn’t resist the temptation of checking for score updates. I already knew the outcome of the game before I sat down to watch the game. It would have been exciting to watch the first period score fest in real time, but I blew it.
There’s not much that can be said about a 7-4 game, and to be honest, I haven’t yet watched the whole thing.
I like that Carolina was disciplined. They only committed two penalties in the game. I like that Tim Gleason dished out six hits and had a goal to boot. I like that Eric Staal won more draws than he lost. I really like that Erik Cole had a breakaway chance that he finished. Too often, he has a clear break, makes a fancy move, then struggles to get a quality shot off. Friday night, he showed a little of the old Erik Cole speed+creativity to score his third goal of the season.
I do not like that the Canes had six power play chances including a lengthy five-on-three and they couldn’t score. While the faceoff issue is slowly getting a little better, the power play production is not. This is not going to be helped by the absence of Joni Pitkanen, who usually quarterbacks one of the power play units.
Down on the farm:
The boys are really busy. They’re in a stretch right now that forces them to play 10 games in 15 days, including five in six days. At the end of this month, they start to get days off between games, which will allow them to rest. To compound their schedule, four of their last five games have involved overtime, and two of the last three have involved shootouts. They’re never able to get any rest.
Zach Boychuk was showing symptoms of tired legs last night. Normally, he’d be the offensive star of the team, but he looked really flat last night. Most of the team seemed a step behind where they should have been.
Drayson Bowman, was head and shoulders above the rest in his display of skill last night. He’ll definitely be shuttled back and forth between Raleigh and Charlotte this season. He scored on the first shot of the game and looked impressive all night long. After that early goal, it looked like it might be a romp. Unfortunately, Admirals goaltender Cedric Desjardins found his groove and looked good for the rest of the game.
Riley Nash, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers over the summer, scored a goal midway through the third period to tie the game and ultimately force overtime. He looked pretty good all night and showed above average two-way abilities. He has now scored in two straight games and will put that mini-streak on the line tonight in Norfolk.
The Checkers found some energy in the third period and had loads of scoring chances. Unfortunately, even when they were in the right place at the right time, they didn’t have their sticks on the ice. Desjardins made some good saves, to be sure, but there were a lot of missed opportunities for the home team.
The overtime period was exciting but it didn’t solve anything. In the shootout, Checkers goalie Mike Murphy was beaten once (the AHL format is to go five rounds) and all five Checkers shooters came up empty. On at least one of the attempts, the shooter had the goalie beaten, but he didn’t have the energy to lift the puck.
The Hurricanes will be home tonight against the same Panthers, and it’ll be my first game of the season. I’ve moved over one section from where I’ve sat in the lower bowl for the last seven seasons. I haven’t yet sat in my seat, but I know exactly where it is, and I think I’m gonna like it.
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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.