Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/03/09 at 05:34 PM ET
Carolina has gotten scoring from Eric Staal, Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose (who’d have predicted that??). Each guy has seven points. Newcomer Jussi Jokinen has five. They’ve gotten some great scoring from the blueline. Joni Pitkänen has five, Timmmmmaaaaay Gleason has four, and Joseph Corvo has three. Fourteen different players have at least one point. Conspicuously absent from that list are Erik Cole and Rod Brind’Amour.
Brind’Amour has had a very disappointing season, and I’m not at all surprised to see his points total at zero. Erik Cole, however, had a great stretch run after coming back to Raleigh. His lack of points is a complete surprise. But then, maybe it isn’t.
Against teams not named Montréal Canadiens and against goalies not named Jose Theodore, Cole has had very little success in the playoffs. His drought goes way beyond these eight games so far this postseason. He’s been pointless in the last 21 playoff games. And it gets worse…
Cole only played in two of the games in the 2006 Cup run. He came back from his broken neck to play in games six and seven of the Finals against Edmonton, but didn’t register any points. 10 games total.
In the 2002 Finals, Cole played in all five games against the Red Wings, but didn’t do anything offensively. 15 games total.
In the ECF that season, he played in all six games against Toronto without registering a goal or an assist. 21 games total.
The last time Erik Cole registered a point in the playoffs was May 13, 2002. Game six of the Eastern semis against the Habs. Cole had two goals and an assist in that game. Theodore started the game and gave up five in the first before being lifted in favor of Stephane Fiset. All of Cole’s damage was against Theodore.
In that six game series, Cole registered four goals and three assists, all against Theodore.
In a six game series against the New Jersey Devils in the 2002 Eastern quarterfinals, Cole had two goals and no assists.
So in Cole’s career, he has played in 33 postseason (NHL) games and has scored just nine (6/3) points. Subract the six games and seven (4/3) points against Jose Theodore and he’s played in 27 games and has scored just two (2/0) points. Both of those came in 2002 against Martin Brodeur. Incidentally, those came in games one and two of that series.
What this means is that in Cole’s last 25 games against goaltenders not named Jose Theodore, he has zero points. This is not acceptable. At this point, I wonder how much Colesy is thinking about it. There’s no way he doesn’t know.
What he needs is a slumpbuster. A fluky deflection or a penalty shot or an empty netter. Something slightly out of the ordinary. He’s too good a player to be underperforming like this. If I’m Tim Thomas, though, I’m not too worried about if/when Cole breaks his slump. I’d be more worried about Eric Staal putting the game on his shoulders and the team on his back. Once he decides to do that, the opposition may as well lay down their king.
So…. Carolina’s hope is that they find a way to win the series against the Bruins and tht the Capitals defeat the Penguins. AND, most importantly, that in the process, Simeon Varlamov either gets injured or comes back down to earth. This would put Erik Cole against his favorite goaltender in the ECF. How likely is that scenario? Extremely unlikely that all three pieces will fall into place, but you never know.
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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.