Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/09/10 at 12:57 AM ET
Back in early October, if someone had told me that the Hurricanes wouldn’t pitch a shutout until March 7, I would have laughed. If someone had told me that Manny Legace would be the one to do it, I would have hit them. Thanks to poor play early in the season, a bout of injuries to Cam Ward and a dismissal of Michael Leighton, Manny Legace has pretty much found himself in the starting goalie’s chair in Carolina. And he got the team’s first shutout of the season on Sunday, a 4-0 win over the Thrashers.
On Thursday, Legace defeated the Senators 4-1, and this had quite a bit of significance for him. It was the first time he’d ever defeated the Senators and it means that he has at least one victory against all 30 active teams.
I’ve said a number of times, and I’ll say again: I hope some other team is taking note and I really hope that Manny gets a contract when he becomes a free agent on July 1. He deserves it very much, but it looks like the Canes won’t have any room for him on the big roster. Justin Peters has pretty much played himself into a situation where it’s his position (backup to Cam) to lose. He’s much younger and much cheaper. It sucks for Manny, but this team needs to get younger.
Peters, who has played very well in four starts, got his first NHL loss on Saturday, a 4-1 loss at Florida.
Carolina really needed to win both games of that back-to-back situation, but they only came away with two points. This hasn’t pushed them out of playoff contention yet, but it put a good dent in their already shaky hopes. With seventeen games to play, they need to make up eight standings points and also leapfrog five teams. Among these seventeen games: three against the league leading Caps, two against the Penguins, one against the Sabres. The reality of the situation is that they’ll need to win sixteen of their remaining games and get some outside help, so it just isn’t going to happen.
Still, I like that the team hasn’t given up. They haven’t sent up the white flag or mailed anything in. On the contrary, they’re playing their best hockey of the season and are in fact the hottest team in the league right now. All this with a tandem of goalies who started the season in the AHL. With a completely dismantled blue line. With a roster on which no player has appeared in every game.
The Hurricanes will wrap up their three game road trip at Washington on Wednesday night, then they’ll return home for the back end of a back-to-back. Their opponent on Thursday will be the Penguins, who will have been off since Sunday, and will probably arrive in Raleigh on Wednesday morning. The Pens, incidentally, will be awaiting word on the eligibility of Matt Cooke, who delivered a nasty shoulder-to-head hit on Boston’s Marc Savard on Sunday. As a “repeat offender”, even though no penalty was called on the play, Cooke should expect to be suspended at least three games, and shouldn’t be surprised if he is banned for five or more games.
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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.