Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/23/09 at 11:45 PM ET
I just wrote a game summary that got eaten by my computer. I’ll do my best to recreate it.
On Thursday night, Martin Brodeur tied Patrick Roy with his 23rd career posteason shutout. Carolina was only shut out once during the regular season, and this one is pretty painful. While Martin Brodeur stopped all 44 shots that came his way, an unfortunately forgotten story of the game is that Cam Ward also played a great game.
The lone goal in the game came at 11:22 of the second period, and the rest was all Martin Brodeur.
The changes to New Jersey’s lineup have already been covered in nauseating detail, but Carolina had some changes of their own. One of them made me quite upset. Coach Paul Maurice decided to sub Frantisek Kaberle for Anton “Howitzer” Babchuk. I’ll admit that Babchuk hasn’t had a very good postseason, but I’m not happy at all about the decision to start Kaberle in his stead. I know that he scored the Cup-winning goal in 2006, and I’ll always have the memory of that. However, he’s just not very useful any more. He’s lost whatever little offensive upside he ever had. He never had any toughness to begin with. Slowly but surely, he’s developed a slew of that “defensive liability” stuff. He’s ten times more likely to shoot the puck into his own net than he is to block a shot or hit anybody. He’s a hundred times more likely to trip himself into the half-wall than he is to shut anybody down. I wasn’t happy with this move, and late in the game when desperation started to set in, the Hurricanes missed Babchuk’s cannon of a slapshot.
What Carolina also missed was the level of physicality that they brought in game four. They only got in Brodeur’s face a few times, and they didn’t set themselves up for scoring. They weren’t a hitting machine like they were in game four. They didn’t have as much of a forecheck.
I commented that the Canes would need Tuomo Ruutu to be an irritant, an offensive threat and a physical force. He was none of that. In another stunning move, Chairman Mo changed the lines up a bit and the Ruutu/Staal/Cole line didn’t spend much time together.
The lone goal of the game was a thing of beauty. The Devils found themselves on the power play after Patty Eaves tripped Dainius Zubrus at 9:49 of the second. With one of Carolina’s most valuable penalty killers in the box, the Devils were able to assert themselves. David Clarkson was in Cam Ward’s kitchen, setting a perfect screen. Andy Greene fired a shot from the top of the right circle that Ward wasn’t able to see. Clarkson just barely got his stick on it, and it found the back of the net at 11:22 of the second. Patrik Elias earned the secondary assist.
Even when it was evident that there was no way anyone was going to beat Marty cleanly with anything, the Canes couldn’t make it happen. The objective at that point should have been to work it inside and create traffic and set screens. They just couldn’t do it. They had some really great chances in the third, but every one was answered by Brodeur. The only close call came in the second period, when Jussi Jokinen almost scored another freak goal. He deflected a shot that beat Brodeur, but hit the right post and died on the goal line. No goal.
When the game ended, Brodeur, Clarkson and Greene were the game’s three stars, but it wouldn’t be right to ignore Cam Ward’s performance, stopping 41 of 42 shots.
There is now only one thing for Carolina to do. Win game six on Sunday, forcing a dramatic game seven on Tuesday.
The drop time for game six has yet to be determined. It all depends upon the NYR/WAS series. If the Rangers are able to close out the series on Friday, the game six between CAR/NJD will be at 2:00 pm on NBC. Elsewise, it’ll be on Sunday night at 7:30.
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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.