Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/07/10 at 03:32 PM ET
In a season where not much has gone right, the Canes can be happy that they’ve played very well in the 2010 portion of this season. They can also be happy that with a 2-0-2 record against the Islanders, they earned six of eight points in that season series. It’s not much, but it’s something.
They can also be happy that young goaltender Justin Peters, who made his NHL debut on Saturday, has a bright future ahead of him. He made 34 saves to earn his first big league win. He looked confident in nets, even if he looked shaky in the post-game interview. Cam Ward is out with a back injury, and although we don’t know the specifics, I’d be surprised if he comes back before the Olympic break. Peters might get one of the three starts before the break, and possibly more after the break. Depending on Cam’s exam on Monday, and depending on the Hurricanes’ desire to put him back out there, it might be next season before Ward suits back up. Either way, the Canes are going to have to find a way to get Cam Ward more rest than he’s been getting over the past three seasons.
Carolina won both games of the New York portion of the four game road trip after dropping two games in Alberta. They now have a three game home stand heading into the break.
Eric Staal had his eleven game points streak snapped, but he’s looking great and he’s really embracing his new role as captain. He’s obviously leading the team on the ice, but he’s been much more vocal on the bench. He’s also, according to the stories I’ve heard, been a huge motivational force in the room, at the team hotel, on the plane.
Jussi Jokinen, who is still left off Team Finland’s roster, scored another goal, bringing his season total to 20. This is a career best for him, and he’ll come close to eclipsing his career best point total of 55 (17/38), which he set in his rookie season. He was a beast in last season’s playoffs and would make an excellent substitution for the injured Tuomo Ruutu. Or the injured Teemu Selanne.
Pat Dwyer scored the game winner in the second period on a goal-mouth bunt. Joni Pitkänen added a goal very late in the third, just as Rick DiPietro was trying to get off the ice for the extra attacker.
The Isles only goal came in the second period. A shorthanded marker from Frans Nielsen.
For this game, Nic “The Secret Weapon” Wallin was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. A deal with San Jose, rumored to be worth a second round draft pick coming this direction, stalled just as it was about to happen. Apparently, Wallin isn’t going to waive his No Trade Clause, not even for a very good chance of winning the Cup with the Sharks. Nobody here in Carolina really understands why Nic Wallin has an NTC in the first place, and it’s proving to be a major hurdle in offloading salary and uploading draft picks.
For Wallin, and also for the situation with Ray Whitney, the clock is ticking. Both players are considered to be commodities for the teams who are “buying”. Both are starting to age themselves out, but both would make excellent additions to any team. The NHL has a roster freeze just before the break officially starts. There should be a flurry of moves just before the rosters freeze on Friday. They’ll remain frozen until February 28, and then the real trade deadline will be Wednesday March 3. I expect both players to be gone at the deadline in strictly rental situations.
I really liked the way Justin Peters looked in nets. He didn’t make mistakes. He didn’t flop all over the place. He confidently handled a few breakaway situations. He handled a few goal-line situations. He used his size to his advantage, which Michael Leighton never did in Carolina. His post coverage was excellent, his rebound control was good, and his puck handling was great. After all that, though, he could barely compose himself during a post-game interview. Whether he got caught up in the situation of winning his first game or whether he was freaking out over the cameras being in his face, he was having a rough time with it. I tend to think it was the former and it was just a show of raw emotions. I sure hope he learns to deal with emotional situations so that he doesn’t get flustered after giving up soft goals. It might not be next season, but I think we’ll be seeing a bit more of him in the future. Congratulations to him on his first NHL win.
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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.