Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/09/11 at 06:44 PM ET
On Saturday, the Hurricanes had a much better showing than they did on Friday. Against the defending Southeast Division champion Capitals, they forced overtime to earn a standings point.
For the second game in as many days, the Hurricanes scored the first goal, but couldn’t put one in the “win” column. For the second game in as many days, Jussi Jokinen took a penalty that ended up being really costly. Apart from that, it was a very different game from the one against the Lightning.
Brian Boucher started in nets for the Hurricanes and he did a good job. He was left out to dry by his defense a couple of times, and there can’t really be any finger pointing in his direction. I think we’ll probably see him at least 21 times this season, giving Cam Ward more of a break than he’s ever had since taking the number one position in the 2006-07 season.
One of my biggest complaints about Friday’s game was the special teams. I thought that the power play was especially bad. They apparently used the morning skate on Saturday to focus on the power play, and it got results. The Canes were 2-4 on the power play, getting two big tallies from captain Eric Staal.
The Canes got on the board first at 12:16 of the second, when Staal finished a really nice tic-tac-toe play. The passing was crisp and everything clicked into place. Jokinen and Jeff Skinner got assists on the play.
Alex Semin tied it up at 14:28 with a breakaway goal. Not much Boucher could have done there. It started with an errant pass deep in the Caps zone. Tomas Kaberle was pinching and nobody went to cover. This left Justin Faulk as the lone high man, and he couldn’t cover the speed of Semin. He easily backhanded it past Boucher for the score.
The Caps took a 2-1 lead at 19:39 of the second when Jason Chimera burst in on a semi-breakaway. Same story. Kaberle was wandering too far into the Canes offensive zone instead of minding the point. Again, Faulk was left alone at the blue line. Tuomo Ruutu tried to cover the point, but by the time he got back it was too late. Chimera came flying down the right wing and beat Boucher on the glove side.
John Carlson committed a delay of game penalty just seconds after the go-ahead goal, and this gave Carolina a power play on a fresh sheet of ice to start the third. It didn’t take long for the Staal to strike again. At 0:18 of the third, he beat Neuvirth from the bottom of the right circle to equalize the score. Skinner and Joni Pitkänen got the assists.
Brooks Laich gave the Caps a 3-2 lead with a power play goal at 16:15. He was on the doorstep to tuck in a rebound of an Alexander Ovechkin slapshot from the high slot.
With about 90 seconds to play, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice called his timeout and pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker. Jussi Jokinen accepted a neat pass from Skinner and scored from the bottom of the right circle at 18:41. Skinner got his third assist of the game and Staal got his third point with the other assist.
The Canes had an excellent chance to win it early in overtime. Alex Semin was called for boarding at 20:00 of the third, giving Carolina two minutes of four-on-three to start the bonus frame. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to take advantage of this. To make it worse, Jokinen got called for holding at 1:31, negating the balance of the power play.
On the ensuing Caps power play, defenseman Mike Green got the game winner. He fired a slapshot from the top of the right circle that deflected off Canes defenseman Bryan Allen’s left skate and into the net.
Carolina should be quite happy to have gotten a point from the Capitals. Obviously, they wish they had gotten two, and they had a good opportunity to get the win, but it just didn’t work out. Getting anything at all out of that tough two-game set is an accomplishment. The Canes and Caniacs have to remember that there will be other weekends where the competition isn’t quite as stiff. The Caps led the East with 107 points last season, and they are expected to do the same or better. The Bolts had 103 points and should be in the same position this season. It’s not going to get better anytime soon, though. They play in New Jersey on Monday afternoon and then at home against the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins on Wednesday. In all honesty, if they have even three standings points by then, they should be happy.
So far, I’m not happy with the play of Tomas Kaberle. Twice in the Caps game, he put rookie defenseman Justin Faulk in a terrible position to cover a breakaway by himself. This put Boucher in a bad spot. Those goals are pretty much on Kaberle if you ask me. In each case, he joined the rush when the three forwards were already too deep to cover his vacancy. I think Faulk has been good, but he’s been hurt by Kaberle. Maybe they should change up the defense pairings. Maybe they should sit Kaberle. Either way, they’ve got nine defensemen and a hotshot rookie who hasn’t been able to get into the lineup yet. I keep wondering when we’re going to see Ryan Murphy. I hope that it’s sometime this week.
Cam Ward will probably be back in nets against the Devils for the matinee game on Thanksgiving/Columbus Day. I’d like to see the forward lines shuffled a little bit in addition to mixing up the defense pairings. I think most Caniacs would like to see rookie Zac Dalpe on the second line, where he’ll have an opportunity to showcase his skill. As much as I love Chad LaRose, he shouldn’t be on the second line. So I’d put Sharpie on the fourth line right wing and Dalpe on the second line. I’d also have Anthony Stewart on the second line instead of the fourth. He and Jiri Tlusty should switch places. Perhaps even sit Tlusty and start Murphy as a seventh defenseman.
I won’t be able to see or even hear the game. I’ll be DVRing it and enjoying it when I get home from work.
The good news out of this weekend is that Jeff Skinner already has four (1/3) points and Staal has three (2/1). The faceoff winning percentage is better than last year, but Eric Staal still struggles at that. Brandon Sutter and Tim Brent are the only guys who can win a draw for the Canes. The defense, which was reported to have gotten better over the summer, hasn’t. There have been a lot of breakdowns already. Like I already said, I’m unimpressed so far by Tomas Kaberle. He’s going to have to get better. He’s going to have to learn the system better. What he’s doing isn’t working.
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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.