Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 09/24/10 at 10:47 PM ET
On Friday night, the Hurricanes fell to the Predators 2-1, one day after defeating them in Nashville 3-1. Carolina will play the last of three straight games Saturday night in Atlanta, and there will likely be some personnel changes. The lineups will be different, and the team will make some roster cuts after the game. This is the way of the pre-season. A different look every night.
One thing has been consistent in the three games that Carolina has played. Patrick O’Sullivan. He has one point in each of the three games and has been described as the best player on the ice. In game number three, he scored on a one-timer from the top of the right circle during a five-on-three power play. He’s going to make it impossible for the front office to send him down to Charlotte.
After a breakout season with the Kings in 2007-08, in which he scored 22 goals and added 31 assists, he’s never been able to repeat. He’s hovered around 40 points in each of his healthy seasons while playing on bad teams. He’s been accused of underachieving. He’s been lauded for his skills in the shootout. Almost paradoxically, he’s also been criticized for having poor finishing skills. He’s been praised for his unbelievable raw talent. He’s been faulted for failing to live up to that talent. Fans love him. Fans hate him. He’s been a puzzle for most fans.
Sure, it’s “only the pre-season”, but I really like what we’re seeing from the North Carolina native. He’s worked hard and gotten results in these exhibition games. His one-year contract is for $600k, which will be an amazing value if he manages even 30 points. Naturally, the points won’t come at the rate of one a game once the real season starts, but he’ll definitely be able to hit the ground running.
Jeff Skinner was buzzing in game three and although he didn’t show up on the score card, he was making things happen and displaying his skating and puck handling prowess. He’s going to be a very good NHL player some day very soon. In the first game, he was having some jitters, which he seemed not to have on Friday night. Part of that was because the coaches put Jussi Jokinen on his line and had Jokinen take the draws. The end result was that Skinner looked much more comfortable.
Although he’s played very well so far, Patty-O will be getting the night off on Saturday. Carolina will be back to the veteran-laden lineup and probably even Cam Ward in nets. Out of the roster hopefuls, Zac Dalpe will be the one to watch on Saturday.
After Saturday’s game, Carolina will make some cuts and take a few days off. They’ll play at Florida on Wednesday and at home against Atlanta next Friday before heading off for Europe. With no time to recover from travel, they’ll play an exhibition against SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. They’ve got former NHLers Sergei Brylin, Alexei Yashin and Maxim “All Russian, no Finnish” Afinogenov on the squad as well as Evgeny Nabokov in nets. By the time the Canes get over there, they will have made their final roster cuts, but The Soldiers will have played 11 regular season games. That and the European ice will make for a very challenging game for Carolina.
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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.