Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 12/30/10 at 12:03 AM ET
On Wednesday night, Cam Ward earned his second shutout of the season, Zach Boychuk scored two goals and Pat Dwyer scored his second in as many nights to pace the Hurricanes to a 4-0 whitewash of the Ottawa Senators. Erik Cole scored the other goal.
Boychuk was called up two weeks ago to replace the injured Jiri Tlusty and had only notched one assist in five previous games. He potted two goals in the first period tonight and nearly completed the hat trick early in the second. Pat Dwyer has played every game this season for the big team and has now matched his exact point production (7 goals, 5 assists) from last season. He will not, at any point, be reassigned to Charlotte, and he’s pretty much guaranteed that his contract will be renewed over the summer.
Cam Ward, meanwhile, is silently putting himself in the top tier in every goaltending statistical category.
Carolina completed the sweep of Ontario after defeating Toronto 4-3 on Tuesday night and will now head home for a New Year’s Day (night) game against the last place New Jersey Devils. For each of the last seven seasons, Carolina has played a home game on New Year’s Eve, and this is the closest thing they get to that.
For the second game in a row, Carolina converted one of its three power play opportunities. This is a big improvement over the way things have been all season. Going into the Toronto game, Carolina’s power play was 27th in the league at 15.5%. That included a 19th in the league 15.8% on the road. After the Ottawa game, they were 22nd in the league overall with a 16.2% conversion rate. On the road, they climbed all the way to 16th in the league with a 17.1% conversion rate. If they can continue to improve while staying out of their own penalty box, they’ll be a team to look out for late in the regular season and into the playoffs.
This was a really important game for the Hurricanes in a lot of ways. Something that might get lost in all the excitement about the Cam Ward shutout and the fantastic night by the young kids is the fact that Carolina was without one of its best forwards and one of its top pair defensemen. Joni Pitkanen, who usually plays about 28 minutes a game, suffered an upper body injury in Toronto and did not play in Ottawa. Also, Jussi Jokinen, who is second on the team with 26 points, was out of this game with a lower body concern. Carolina didn’t miss a beat with these guys on the shelf, and they did it without any offensive production from Eric Staal.
Carolina is 6-3-1 in their last ten games and were 7-4-1 in the month of December.
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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.