Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 01/21/10 at 11:58 PM ET
Carolina made a captaincy change on Wednesday, removing the -in waiting part of Eric Staal’s title and officially giving him the C. On Thursday, things went very well for him in his first game as the Cap. He scored a goal in each period. Carolina beat the Thrashers 5-2, and Staal’s empty netter in the closing minute capped off his tenth career hat trick.
His big night also makes him one of the hottest players of late. In his last ten games, he’s accrued 17 (7/10) points. Now that he’s got 13 goals, it seems like he has a chance to reach the 30 goal plateau for the fifth consecutive season.
Staal has some detractors, but I love the captaincy shift and I really like him as a player. I don’t understand how fans can find much to dislike about a guy who has played at exactly a point-a-night for the last five seasons. Sure, he’s streaky. Sure, he always starts slow. Sure, his defensive skills are still a work in progress. He’s still a premier player who is really good in the clutch. And now that he’s officially the captain, I think we’ll see more of that “put the team on his shoulder and take over the game” stuff. I know it’s just one game, but he sure did that tonight.
Hopefully not lost in the excitement of the big night for the new captain is the fact that Cam Ward’s win brought him into a tie with Arturs Irbe for the franchise all-time win leader. Both players have 130 regular season wins in a Carolina sweater. Of course Cam has better playoff numbers and the Conn Smythe trophy and the Stanley Cup to show, but he’s in good company with Archie.
The Canes will play back-to-back afternoon games this weekend. At the Flyers on Saturday afternoon and at home against the Bruins on Sunday afternoon.
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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.