Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/01/08 at 02:38 PM ET
Today, the Hurricanes will be facing the Edmonton Oilers. It’ll be the first time since October 13 that they’ve played at home. Thankfully, I got a personal phone call from Scott Walker to remind me that today’s game was a 3:00 matinee. Okay, so it wasn’t so much a “personal call” as a recorded message sent out to all season ticket holders, but there’s no need to split hairs.
Carolina returns home after a successful six game roadtrip, during which they earned eight of a possible 12 points (3-1-2). After winning their first four games, the Oil have lost five games in a row. This is the second of seven straight road games for Edmonton, who won’t return home until November 13. Being on the road for that long sucks, but the Oilers got a little bit of rest and home cooking this weekend when they stayed at Erik Cole’s home in Raleigh. On Friday, he and his wife Emily hosted the entire team for dinner at the house he still owns in Raleigh.
Cole was a fan favorite here, and his homecoming will be bitter-sweet for everyone.
Cole was, of course, traded to Edmonton over the summer in exchange for defenseman Joni Pitkänen. While Cole has had a bit of a slow start, earning just two (1/1) points in the first nine games, Pitkänen got off to a blazing start, earning four points (1/3) in the first three games. Pitkänen was injured in Carolina’s seventh game and will be out of the lineup for a month. Therefore, he won’t have a chance to play against his old team.
I’m not sure what’s going on with Cole up there. They started the season with Cole miscast as the second line left wing. He can play either wing position, but he’s much more comfortable and much more productive on the right side. Finally, they switched him to the right, but now they’ve got him on the third line. I’ll leave the Oilers analysis to the fine bunch of bloggers in the Oilogosphere, but I don’t understand putting Cole on the third line and Sam Gagner on the second.
Speaking of “the fine bunch of bloggers in the Oilogosphere”, here’s some recommended reading:
So Edmonton has just begun a long road trip and they’re deep into a losing streak and scoring slump. They’ve scored just five goals in the last five games and have shuffled lines and combinations, but things haven’t gone well in the last week and a half. They’re hoping that the visit to Cole’s house will get them turned around.
Carolina has finally, finally started to look like a focused team. They looked good in the shootout loss to Montréal and they looked great in the win against St. Louis. Carolina needs—and Edmonton does too—to get better on the power play. In the past couple of games, Carolina has done a better job of staying out of their own penalty box, but they’ve continued to be lousy when they have the man advantage. The Canes went one-for-seven both on Tuesday and on Thursday. Prior to that, they had five straight games with no power play markers. On the flip side, they’ve killed 24 of the last 27 penalties.
The weather should be fantastic today. Sunny and 71 degrees. There should be tons of extracurricular activity in the parking lot. This will also be my first game of the season.
I’m still waiting for Sergei Samsonov to break out of his slump. He’s been looking good and getting some grade A chances, but nothing’s happening for him right now. It isn’t that there’s a lack of effort, it’s just that it isn’t happening. It will soon enough.
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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.