Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 11/14/09 at 10:46 PM ET
On Friday night, the Hurricanes dropped their 14th consecutive game, even if they managed to force overtime. Since October 9, they have gone 0-10-4. However, the news isn’t all bad.
On Wednesday, the Canes overcame a two goal deficit only to lose 5-2. On Friday, they overcame a horrible first period in which they fell behind 3-0. Tim Gleason took a really dumb double minor early in the game which ended up spotting the Islanders two goals, but it was his goal late in the third that forced overtime. The Canes were 14 seconds away from going to shootout when defenseman Bryan Rodney, recently called up from Albany, committed a bad turnover deep in the Canes zone. This led directly to the winning goal and although the Canes looked like they would end the horrible streak, they added one more tick mark to the locker room wall.
The good news is that some of the forwards are starting to play well. With five (3/2) points in his last seven games, Brandon Sutter has looked like a Sutter, and Tuomo Ruutu is starting to assert himself. And for only the second time in this dry spell, the Canes scored more than two goals. That’s a start.
They will have another chance to end the streak with a rare afternoon home game. When they face the Wild at 1:30, it will be one of only three home games this season with a 1:30 drop. I’m not crazy about the start time, but it gets me back home at a decent hour, so it has benefits.
Carolina’s problem has been that they can’t piece together 60 minutes of good hockey. In each of their losses, they’ve had 20, 40, even 50 minutes of good hockey. However, they’ve also had in every game, at least five minutes of really really bad hockey. Usually characterized by a complete lack of defensive zone awareness. Also characterized by sloppy passing and bad discipline.
In Friday’s game, the first two goals came on the power play thanks to Tim Gleason committing a rough, then an unsportsmanlike to boot. The penalty killing wasn’t great, obviously, but having Gleason in the box is never a good thing.
Further, the power play has been anemic. That’s not really an appropriate word for how lifeless it’s been, as they’ve only converted one of their last 28 opportunities. You can’t win hockey games when that’s going on.
Manny Legace hasn’t been horrible, but he hasn’t been great either. He’s started his first two games with the Canes, but he’ll be the backup to Michael Leighton on Sunday. The last and only game that Leighton started was on Halloween afternoon, when the Flyers shelled him 6-1.
Again, it’s a little thing, but Tuomo Ruutu has a two game goal scoring streak, and Brandon Sutter is playing very well. Ray Whitney has a two game point streak. None of these are headline-worthy, but it’s a sign that the team is starting to get all the oars in the water.
Carolina’s opponent on Sunday will be the Minnesota Wild, who are wrapping up a four-game Eastern Conference roadtrip, in which the last two have been against other Southeast Division teams. It is also their third game in four days. They lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Bolts on Thursday, then lost 3-1 at Washington on Friday. Expect to see Niklas Backstrom in nets for the Wild.
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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.