Kukla's Korner

Red and Black Hockey

Entries with the tag: eric staal

Canes steal a point from Caps

On Saturday, the Hurricanes had a much better showing than they did on Friday.  Against the defending Southeast Division champion Capitals, they forced overtime to earn a standings point.

For the second game in as many days, the Hurricanes scored the first goal, but couldn’t put one in the “win” column.  For the second game in as many days, Jussi Jokinen took a penalty that ended up being really costly.  Apart from that, it was a very different game from the one against the Lightning. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+boucher, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, justin+faulk, tomas+kaberle, washington+capitals

Two shutouts put Carolina in control of their own destiny

Two shutout games have given Carolina control of its own playoff destiny with two games left to play.  On Wednesday night, the Hurricanes surprisingly shut out the visiting Detroit Red Wings 3-0.  On Thursday night, the Atlanta Thrashers shut out the New York Rangers by the same score. 

The Rangers have 91 standings points—two better than Carolina, and have just one game to play.  They must win their last game against the Devils on Saturday AND get help from Carolina to make the playoffs.  Carolina, on the other hand, can control their own fate.  If they win their last two games, they’re in.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: atlanta+thrashers, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, detroit+red+wings, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, tampa+bay+lightning

Cole paces Canes to important win, but Buffalo offers no help

On Friday night, the Hurricanes were again in “the most important game of the season”, and they emerged with a huge 4-3 regulation win over the Lightning.  Jeff Skinner scored his 26th of the season, Eric Staal scored his 30th and Erik Cole added two.  Cam ward made 18 saves.  Unfortunately for the Canes slim playoff hopes, Buffalo also won its game.  With eight games remaining, the Hurricanes remain three points behind the eighth place Sabres.

For the first time since the Truman administration, the Hurricanes tallied two power play goals in the same game.  The power play has been one of many weak points for them this whole season, and it will probably be the one thing that we blame if/when the Hurricanes end up on the outside of the playoff mix. 

Carolina has now won three games in a row, but the harsh reality is that they’re going to have to be blazing hot down the stretch.  “Warm” won’t cut it.  They’ll probably need to get twelve of the sixteen remaining points available.  Every game matters, and they’d like some outside help from the Sabres, or even the Rangers.  The Canes are five points back of the Rangers with a game in hand.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, erik+cole, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, tampa+bay+lightning

Canes win, close in on seventh

On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes won a critical game against the Panthers, earning two standings points and maintaining their slim two point cushion over the ninth place Buffalo Sabres.  Carolina got a goal and an assist from Cory Stillman, and the game-winning goal from Eric Staal.  Cam Ward, who has started the last 23 games in a row, made 41 saves to earn his 27th win. 
Meanwhile, the Sabres defeated the Rangers 3-2 in regulation.  The game put Carolina fans in a tough spot because they needed both teams to lose the game in regulation.  Since this can’t happen, the next best thing was a regulation decision, and that’s what happened.  The bad part is that Carolina was unable to create distance between themselves and Buffalo, but the good bit is that the Canes gained ground on the seventh place Rangers.  With a game in hand, Carolina is now just one point behind the Blueshirts. 

The Sabres have two games in hand on Carolina as they head into Raleigh for an epic game on Thursday.  For both teams, two points is the only acceptable outcome.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, cory+stillman, eric+staal, florida+panthers

Hurricanes close out hot January with another win

On Wednesday, Carolina played their final game before the All-Star break and got a much needed 4-2 win over the Islanders behind two Eric Staal goals.  Unfortunately, the Thrashers were simultaneously shutting out the Capitals 1-0, preserving their wafer-thin lead over the Canes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. 

Carolina went 8-4-2 in January and are still out of the playoff picture, but they’re just one point out and hold two games in hand against the Thrashers. 

After the break, Carolina has a tough road, as nine of 13 games in February are against teams currently in the playoff picture.  Meanwhile, just one of Atlanta’s 11 February opponents is currently in the playoffs.  Atlanta and Carolina face each other twice in what will be a very important month.

For now, Carolina can be happy with the way they played in January and specifically the hot play of Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner.  Both will be featured players in this weekend’s ASG festivities.

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  Tags: all-star, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, new+york+islanders

Canes win a crazy game, keep streak going

On Tuesday, the Hurricanes won their third straight game and extended their streak to eight games in which they’ve earned at least one standings point.  It wasn’t a pretty game, and they needed the shootout to earn the extra point, winning 6-5 against the Flames.  At one point late in the second, the Canes had a three goal lead, but the pesky Flames fought back and nearly stole the game in regulation.  Although it was nerve-wracking, the Canes got the two points and there’s no harm in giving away one point across conference lines. 

Jussi Jokinen, who missed six games with a “lower body concern” returned to the lineup with a bang: he scored two goals and assisted on another.  Cam Ward was named to the All-Star roster Tuesday morning, and also returned to the lineup after backing up Justin Peters two games in a row.  He didn’t put up All-Star numbers, but he picked up the win, and that’s what matters the most. 

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  Tags: calgary+flames, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, jerome+iginla, jussi+jokinen

Canes gain another point, but lose

On Wednesday night, Cam Ward and Henrik Lundqvist engaged in a goaltenders’ duel, which ended with a 2-1 overtime win for the home team Rangers.  It’s the second straight overtime loss for the Hurricanes, but marks the fifth straight game in which they’ve gotten at least one standings point.  They remain in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Montréal, against whom Carolina has one game in hand. 

Carolina will have two divisional games coming up and will hit the halfway point of the season on Sunday with a home game against the Thrashers.  By then, the Canes will hope to have leapfrogged Les Habitants into the inside of the playoff bubble. 

Cam Ward has been very good for the last couple of weeks, but the Hurricanes are still having trouble giving him any run support.

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  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, new+york+rangers

Canes overcome two goal deficit for second straight night

For the second night in a row, the Hurricanes were on the road against a Southeast division opponent.  For the second night in a row, they found themselves down by two goals after two periods.  Fortunately, for the second night in a row, they climbed all the way back and walked out with a win.  Now, for the first time all season, they have won three games in a row, and they capped off a five game road trip by earning seven of ten standings points. 

One night after failing to show up, Cam Ward had a pretty remarkable night in nets.  He had 45 saves in a shooting gallery and looked great doing it.  He was especially sharp in the waning moments of regulation.  The Atlanta media couldn’t see fit to award him with one of the stars of the game, but it’s no doubt that he was the best Hurricane player. 

Brandon Sutter and Eric Staal scored third period goals to overcome a 2-0 deficit, and Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov scored in the shootout to secure the two points.

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  Tags: atlanta+thrashers, brandon+sutter, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Canes snatch consolation point from the jaws of defeat

On Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes traveled up 95 North to take on the Capitals.  Simultaneously, the respective American League teams were battling in Hershey.  Paul Maurice was unable to earn a win in his 1000th game, but the Hurricanes were able to emerge with one standings point.

The Capitals were off and running with two goals in the first period off the sticks of Marcus Johansson and Alex Semin.  They dominated the first period, and it looked like it would be a long afternoon for the Hurricanes.

After playing their way back into the game and pulling Cam Ward in the final minute of the game, Eric Staal forced overtime with less than three seconds to go in the game.  Overtime solved nothing, and Carolina’s shootout shooters couldn’t find the net.  Ovechkin scored in the first round of the shootout, and that’s all they needed.

Meanwhile, the Checkers were thrashing the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears to the tune of 5-2.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, erik+cole, washington+capitals

Canes blow up against Ottawa

Lately, the Carolina Hurricanes have, on alternate nights, scored seven goals or given up seven goals.  On Wednesday night, they were the former.  It might have had something to do with a parking space. 

While the Canes are in the midst of Rebuild v2.1, the Sens were a team with a lot other than hockey on their mind.  Because of the tragic events with the 14-year old daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson, the team didn’t travel or practice according to schedule this week.  They played with heavy hearts and minds elsewhere, but the Hurricanes had a job to do.  And they did it quite well. 

Behind a terrific five (3/2) point night from captain Eric Staal, the Hurricanes thrashed the Senators 7-1 and will take their show up to the Consol Energy Center on Friday night.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, ottawa+senators

Canes rout Oil as Skinner piles up points

On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes pummeled the visiting Edmonton Oilers to the tune of 7-1.  A lot went right for the home team, including great success at the power play, a 50% success rate in the faceoff circle (!), a four point night from captain Eric Staal and a three point night from rookie sensation Jeff Skinner.  However, the Hurricanes should be careful not to break their collective arm patting themselves on the back.  The Oilers are a bad team who got off to a really bad start and never recovered.  Carolina scored just 26 seconds into the game, and it was all downhill from there.

Oilers netminder Nikolai Khabibulin allowed four goals on eight shots in just 7:19 of ice time.  It was probably the second worst night of the calendar year for him.  His dreadful save percentage of .500 was only marginally higher than ...  oh never mind. 

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, edmonton+oilers, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, joe+corvo, nikolai+khabibulin

Carolina finally scores at home.  A lot

Yes, friends.  The goal horn at the RBC Center does work. 

The Hurricanes’ last two home games were against the red hot keepers Brent Johnson and Michal Neuvirth.  Tonight, they had the prvilege of playing against the struggling Rick DiPietro of the Islanders.  On Saturday, he gave up six goals on 29 shots against the Flyers.  On Wednesday, he was even worse against Carolina, giving up seven goals on 32 shots.  This was just the elixir the Canes needed, as they cured their home woes with a decisive 7-2 win.

Rookie Jeff Skinner was one of six goal scorers for the Canes, and he added one assist.  24-year old rookie Jon Matsumoto, playing in just his second NHL game, scored his first two goals.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, new+york+islanders, rick+dipietro, sergei+samsonov

Canes faceoff woes continue

Since we last spoke, I’ve been busy with just about everything except maintaining the blog.  Carolina has lost two games in a row.  First, they were blanked by Pittsburgh 3-0 at home on Saturday, then they were oulasted 3-2 at Philadelphia on Monday night. 

While the Canes have yet to score a single goal at the RBC Center this season, they’ve run into hot goaltenders.  First it was Michal Neuvirth of the Caps, who leads the league with seven goalie wins; then it was Brent Johson of the Penguins, who is second in the league with a GAA of 1.16 and a save percentage of .960.  That’s second only to Tim Thomas’ insanely ridiculous 0.5 GAA and .984 save percentage.  Eventually, at some point, they’ll play against a sieve.  Or, at least, a mere human. 

So the lack of scoring against these beasts isn’t really that much of a concern.  The big concern is the horrendous faceoff win percentage.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, faceoffs

Canes fall in LA

On Wednesday night, the Hurricanes headed into Los Angeles with a lot of good feelings.  Feeding off the big win in San Jose, they kept the forward lines intact.  The only change to the lineup was that Cam Ward got the night off and his backup Justin Peters got his first start of the season.  He played well, but in the end, the Kings got the 4-3 win.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, los+angeles+kings

Coming up Roses—Carolina 5 - San Jose 2

To take a page out of Mike Chen‘s book, the soundtrack for the Canes-Sharks game is “Coming Up Roses” by Curve. 

On Tuesday night in San Jose, Carolina earned a convincing win against the Sharks by the score of 5-2.  They have done in five games what took them 19 games to do last season: win three games. 

Eric Staal, who I called out earlier in the day, had a great game with a goal and an assist.  Chad LaRose, who has been the invisible man in four games, had a fantastic game with a goal and two assists and was named the first star of the game.  Rookie Jeff Skinner had a remarkable game.  Cam Ward also had a very good and very important game.  The boys looked good in almost every aspect.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, san+jose+sharks

Canes start North American season with loss

On Thursday, the Hurricanes played their first game of the season on North American soil.  They won the two games in Finland, but dropped the game in Ottawa 3-2.

Before the game was three minutes old, Senators netminder Pascal Leclaire had to leave the game with what appeared to be a groin injury.  Brian Elliott came on in relief, and got the job done.  On the other end of the rink, Cam Ward was great, but a was done in by a late power play goal.

Eric Staal and Sergei Samsonov each scored his first goal of the season for the Canes, while Mike Fisher was the man for Ottawa with two goals including the game winner.

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  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, ottawa+senators

Canes drop KHL exhibition

On Monday, the Hurricanes played their final preseason game, an exhibition against SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.  The Russian team won 5-3 in a game that has been described as “chippy”, “dirty” and “a joke”.  For safety reasons, coach Paul Maurice had to bench Canes captain Eric Staal in the third period.  Cam Ward was also taken out of the game for precautionary reasons. 

There was a series of incidents in the middle stanza where the SKA players were apparently targeting Staal.  After a few knee-on-knee occurrences, Tim Gleason took matters into his own hands and pummeled Alexei Petrov.  This resulted in ejections for both players.  Later in the game, Jay Harrison was also ejected for the same.  I didn’t watch the game, but I’ve been told by decidedly biased Canes fans that the officiating was lax and the SKA players were blatantly attempting to injure Carolina’s star players.

It was a game with a lot of promise for cross-league promotion.  It could have set the table for games like this to be annual.  After this, though, there’s little chance that the Hurricanes or any NHL team will want to schedule this type of exhibition.  Too much risk and not enough reward.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jeff+skinner, ska+st.+petersburg

No brotherly love in Raleigh

Jared Staal, the youngest of the four brothers, signed a contract with Carolina this summer, and he’s in Raleigh for the prospects’ conditioning camp this week.  Eric is back in Thunder Bay, and is not allowing his baby brother to stay in the house.  That’s rough. 

 

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jared+staal

Staal’s hat trick on hat night

On Thursday, the official announcement of a poorly kept secret came:  Raleigh has been awarded the 2011 All-Star Game.  The press conference came on the lawn of the RBC Center where the Caniacs gathered for the last time this season. 

The Habs needed one point to clinch a playoff position, but the Canes played spoiler.  Behind a five point night from Eric Staal and a four point night from Chad LaRose, Carolina sent the fans home happy with a 5-2 win.  On the way in the arena, fans were given ball caps.  Not very many of them left the arena thanks to a hat trick by Staal.  He now has 29 on the season and will have a good chance to reach 30 for the fifth consecutive season.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Big but inconsequential win for the Canes

On Thursday night, the Penguins and their mob of fans invaded Raleigh.  They used blitzkrieg tactics to take a 2-0 lead just five and a half minutes into the game, and it looked like they would have their way with the host Hurricanes.  However, the Hurricanes fought back and ultimately emerged with a 4-3 overtime win.  The sea of powder blue sweater-clad fans, who were boisterous during the game, left in silence while the Hurricanes fans reclaimed their own barn.

Justin Peters, who faced 40 shots in the game, looked shaky at times.  In the end, though, he earned his fourth win in five tries thanks to some outstanding work in the third frame.

Brian Pothier, who was part of the return on the Joe Corvo trade, scored his first Hurricanes goal to win the game very early in the overtime period.

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  Tags: brian+pothier., carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jordan+staal, justin+peters, pittsburgh+penguins, ray+whitney, zach+boychuk

Miller has bad night as Canes squeak by Sabres

The Hurricanes started this week with a four game win streak and were about to embark on a four game road trip.  The Oilers and Flames showed the Canes what the Alberta Advantage is, then the boys flew across the continent to New York for a back-to-back at Buffalo and Long Island. 

Cam Ward was added to the list of injured players and Manny Legace got the start in nets.  He picked up a 4-3 win against Ryan Miller, who did not perform well.  He allowed a couple of uncharacteristically soft goals including the game winner from Jussi Jokinen.  One that he saw all the way, but didn’t stop.  No traffic, no screen, no re-direction.  Nothing.  Hopefully it was just a hiccup and not a sign of things to come for Ryan Miller.  I say this with reference to his role on team USA for the upcoming Olympic games. 

Eric Staal continued his pace, picking up a goal and an assist to stretch his points scoring streak to 11 games.  He’s recorded 14 (10/4) points in nine games since being named captain of the team.

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  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, manny+legace, ryan+miller

Bubble teams fail to show up against Canes

For the second straight game on Wednesday, the Hurricanes faced a team on the Eastern Conference playoff bubble.  For the second game in a row, that bubble team took the Canes too lightly.  And for the second straight game, the Hurricanes emerged with a 5-1 win.

On Sunday, it was the Bruins who came to the RBC Center but were not ready to play.  Like the Canes, they are a team with four regulars out of the lineup, but their effort was horrible.  Carolina played well, but it should also be noted that Boston stank.  They skated for about five minutes of the first period, then fell completely apart.

On Wednesday, the Rangers stunk up their own barn with a sad performance which will temporarily knock them out of the top eight.

Eric Staal netted another two goals tonight, bringing him to 17 on the season and seven in four games since being anointed captain.  Despite his detractors in Caniac Nation, he’s on fire and looking more like the Staal of 2005/06.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, new+york+rangers

Staal continues to flourish in new role

When the Hurricanes named Eric Staal captain last Wednesday, there was an unrelated but simultaneous shift, moving him back to his natural position of center.  All he’s done in the three games since then is score five goals, and for the first time all season, he has a three game goal streak.  More importantly, he looks fully healthy and is shooting the puck with authority. 

As an added bonus, his teammates are finding him in open ice with great scoring opportunities.  And he’s not missing.  In the last three games, he’s recorded 14 shots and has scored on five of those shots.  I’ll take that any day of the week.  With 31 games left, he needs 15 more goals to keep his streak of 30+ goal seasons alive.  He’s up to speed, and I think he’ll make it.  Just. 

Alex Oveckin, and Dany Heatley have already hit the 30 goal plateau for the fifth straight season.  Ilya Kovalchuk has done it for the seventh straight season.  Jerome Iginla hasn’t yet, but will.  When Iggy hits 30 goals, it’ll be his ninth straight NHL season hitting that mark.  At 12 goals and currently as cold as ice, Henrik Zetterberg is going to have a tough time extending his streak of four seasons of 30+ goals.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+ovechkin, dany+heatley, eric+staal, henrik+zetterberg, ilya+kovalchuk, jerome+iginla

Staal captaincy gets off to roaring start

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.

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  Tags: atlanta+thrashers, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Staal takes over for Brind’Amour; more changes likely

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to work out a post about Rod Brind’Amour’s declining ice time and declining purpose on the Hurricanes.  I would have titled the post “The Old Man and the C”, but today’s developments made it all old news.  On Wednesday afternoon, the Hurricanes announced that Eric Staal has become the newest captain of the Hurricanes, effective immediately.  Rod Brind’Amour, who has worn the C since 2005, will wear an A for the rest of this season. 

This is a move that everyone knew would come some day, and most of us assumed that it would be at some point this summer.  The timing is a little strange, but Jim Rutherford has indicated that he’s been talking with Brind’Amour over the last few weeks and months about this.  Before the official announcement, Rutherford gave Brindy veto power on the issue, and the 39-year old gracefully accepted the change.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, rod+brind'amour

Canes set season mark

On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes did something they haven’t done since last season:  they won a third consecutive game.  Despite being outshot by a wide margin, Carolina doubled up the host Toronto Maple Leafs to the tune of 4-2.  With the regulation win, the Canes move to within four points of fourteenth place in the East.  There’s still a chance, albeit a very slim one, that the Canes could make the playoffs.  At the very least, they have an excellent chance of finishing higher than 30th in the league. 

With some stout goaltending by Cam Ward, some solid minutes from the “Rat Pack”, another strong outing by Eric Staal and some good special teams work, the Canes have their longest winning streak of the season.  They’ve won three in a row and four of their last five.  And the word on the street is that Chad LaRose could return to the lineup in Detroit on Thursday.  And that Erik Cole is right behind him in the recovery room.

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  Tags: brandon+sutter, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, toronto+maple+leafs

The future is now for Canes

The Hurricanes have been dealing with a lot of injuries this season, and while they are far from the top of the list in terms of man-games lost, the injuries to key players are really starting to mount.  More than any season except maybe 2002-03, they’ve had to rely on players from the American League to fill the roster.  For a few weeks, they’ve been playing with no less than five players from the AHL, and with the Staal situation, they’ll start tomorrow’s game with six skaters who started this season in the American Hockey League. 
And don’t forget that Manny Legace didn’t even have a pro contract when this season started. 

Like Hudsucker Industries, “The Future is Now” for the Carolina Hurricanes.  They’re getting a very good look at the kids who will be the future of this team. 
While it isn’t official, and no call-up has been made,  this depth chart from the team’s official page suggests that Jerome Samson (pronounced Sam-SAWN) will indeed be the latest Rat call.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, injuries, jerome+samson

despite bad season, Staal makes team Canada

Eric Staal has played in two long playoff seasons.  He has won the Stanley Cup once.  He is one of only six players to have scored thirty or more goals in each season from 2005/06 to 2008/09.  When Steve Yzerman announced Team Canada’s roster on Wednesday, Staal learned that he will represent his country in the Olympics for the first time.  He was on the taxi squad in 2006 and was never called upon. 

He’s off to a slow start this season.  Even slower than usual.  He played at less than 100% for several games and missed ten games with injuries, but since returning, he’s been in great form.  He might just now be hitting his full stride this season, and the timing couldn’t be much better for team Canada.  Although he’s a natural center, he’s been playing a little bit at right wing (which is where Team Canada will need him), and he’s been doing quite well.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Canes rout Caps.  New “big line” discovered

On Monday night, the Hurricanes went to face the best team in the East on hostile ground.  Not only were the Caps the best team in the Eastern conference, but they were until last night undefeated in SE divisional play.  Perhaps they saw the Hurricanes coming and decided to take the night off.  Perhaps they were shelled by the team trading away its captain.  Perhaps something else.  Carolina did not look like the worst team in the league, and they spanked the Caps 6-3. 

In the third period of Saturday’s game against the Flyers, the Carolina coaching staff gambled on on reconstructing a top line of all centers.  They put Jussi Jokinen, Matt Cullen and Eric Staal together.  It was a chance, and it worked beautifully in that game and even better Monday night against the Capitals.  Saturday night, they combined for six points in just one period of play.  Monday night, they combined for ten points.  It’s way too early to know for sure, but it looks like this new top line is a great idea.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jussi+jokinen, matt+cullen, washington+capitals

Canes down Stars.  It’s all about the Finns

On Wednesday, rumors spread that Carolina will be opening the 2010-11 season with two games in Finland.  Maybe all that excitement about the Finnish trip had something to do with it, and maybe it was just some sort of synchronicity, but Carolina’s three native Finns played very well in Carolina’s 5-3 victory over the visiting Dallas Stars.  At the end of it all, Tuomo Ruutu got his first career hat trick, even if Ray Whitney almost messed it up.

Nothing has been announced, and nothing will be announced for another couple of months, but there’s some very strong suggestion that Carolina will be one of the teams starting their season in Europe next season, and everything is pointing towards Finland.  With Carolina’s three Finns, the games would be certain to draw huge crowds.  According to what I’ve heard, although the teams lose home games, the league gives them financial benefits from the Europe games.  Season ticket holders would lose one game, but they obviously wouldn’t have to pay for it.  The Finns get to play at home.  Everybody wins. 


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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, dallas+stars, eric+staal, finland, joni+pitkanen, jussi+jokinen, tuomo+ruutu

With the Captain benched, Carolina gets first road win

On Monday, there was a lot of contention amongst Hurricanes fans when rumors started to circulate that Rod Brind’Amour would be a healthy scratch for the Pens game.  While some refused to believe it and some chose to have their feelings by it, the rumor had truth to it.  Carolina’s 78 year-old Captain was exiled to the press box as a healthy scratch.  The coaching staff finally decided that his five minutes of ice time should go to someone else. 
On some teams, this might have made waves in the room, but it didn’t seem to upset the group in white tonight.  When the final horn sounded, Carolina got its first road win of the season on their penultimate visit to the Mellon Arena.

Manny Legace managed not to get injured tonight, which disproves my theory about his health in the first seven days of December.  Or at least it stops a bizarre trend.  One other bizarre trend continued, and it was that Eric Staal registered zero goals and two assists for the third straight game.   

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, manny+legace, marc-andre+fleury, pittsburgh+penguins, road+win

Road trip starts badly for Canes

The Hurricanes continued their annual late October extended road trip in desperate need of a win.  The Islanders were a winless team, but have been playing good hockey.  Unfortunately for the Canes, this was the night the Isles finally got into the win column.  After falling behind 3-1, Carolina mounted a third period rally to tie the game, which was ultimately settled in the shootout.  The home team converted all three of their shootout attempts, while the Hurricanes succeeded just once.

It was a night to celebrate Ray Whitney, who was playing in his 1000th NHL game and his 300th as a Cane.  Unlike last Wednesday, when he lit the lamp twice, he failed to light the lamp this time.  Eric Staal got off the schneid, but it wasn’t enough to lead the Canes to victory.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, joni+pitkanen, jussi+jokinen, new+york+islanders

Staal misses practice, but is expected to play

Eric Staal left practice early on Monday with some “tightness” and didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice, according to official team reports.  The nature of this tightness isn’t known, but the captain-in-waiting is not expected to miss Wednesday’s clash with the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins. 

Joni Pitkänen, who has played in all of one period of action this season, also sat out.  He’s still being troubled by soreness in his knee after off-season surgery.  Right now, there’s no time table for his return.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, joni+pitkanen

Malone’s hat trick beats Canes

On Saturday night, the Hurricanes played the back end of their second back-to-back set, and for the second time, they lost.  This time it was Ryan Malone and the blue-clad City of Tampa Lightning.  Based on his success this season, Malone would love to play the Canes every night

I didn’t get to watch this game, as I had to fill in at work for one of my lazy employees.  Also, I missed an unannounced concert by my favorite musician because I found out about it too late.  For that show, I would have made something else happen at work.  Anyway, I avoided any exposure to the game while I was at work, I went home to watch the DVR.  Just as I was about to sit down to that, a friend IMed me and accidentally spoilt the game for me.  Not a good night for me. 

The Canes managed to get the power play rolling, and the 5-2 score suggests that it wasn’t close, but it was.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, rod+brind'amour, ryan+malone, tampa+bay+lightning

Canes lose ugly game.  Cole hurt.

On Saturday night, the Hurricanes traveled to Boston and left with a lot of cuts, bruises, and possibly a break.  They also lost the game 7-2 to the Bruins. 

The first period did not go well, as the Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals by Marc Savard, Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler.  After that, it went from bad to worse as Cam Ward was chased, no fewer than five different Hurricanes players ended up getting cut.  One was Eric Staal, who left the game, bloodied, in the second period after being hit in the ear by a teammate’s slapshot.  Erik Cole suffered an ugly-looking knee injury late in the game.  Carolina managed to score two goals, but if you’re a Canes fan, there really isn’t anything good to take from this game.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, erik+cole, marc+savard

Staal: The Next Generation

Eric Staal sat out of practice today.  Not because of some injury or illness that would have us all worried.  Nothing like that at all.  His wife Tanya gave birth to the couple’s first child—a boy—on Tuesday, and he spent the day with her and their newborn son. 

Parker Lucas Staal won’t grow up with a makeshift hockey rink in the back yard.  He won’t grow up working on a sod farm either.  He will, though, have a destiny that Hurricanes prospect Brandon Sutter knows all about.  A father and uncles who were all not only players, but star players in the NHL.  A name to live up to.  Some would call it a cross to bear.  Awfully big shoes to fill. 

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Canes season ends, questions begin

On Tuesday night, the Penguins defeated the Hurricanes 4-1 to complete the series sweep.  The Penguins will advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the second year in a row where they will most likely play the Red Wings.  The rematch of last year’s final will probably pan out the same way, thanks to Sidney Crosby’s taunting of the hockey gods.

After the presentation of the Prince of Wales trophy, the Penguins captain lifted the prize and skated around with it a little.  This is, of course, very bad in the eyes of the hockey gods.  The Tampa Bay Lightning got away with that gaffe in 2004 and the New Jersey Devils just a few years before that, but it’s generally considered a Plexico Burris to lift the POW.

Hats off to the Pens, who were far and away the better team throughout the series.  Even when Carolina was able to play their own game, and even when they were able to contain Crosby and Malkin, the Penguins were way too good.  Especially M-A Fleury, who was absolutely remarkable tonight.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, marc-andre+fleury, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs

Hurricanes dump Boston 4-1, get stranglehold on series.

On Friday night, in front of a packed RBC Center crowd, the Hurricanes seized control of the Eastern semifinal series with Boston.  They won the game 4-1 behind two goals from Eric Staal and now have a commanding 3-1 series lead.  Game five will be Sunday night in Boston. 

Eric Staal scored his eighth and ninth goals of the postseason and has passed some guy named Ron Francis on the franchise postseason scoring list.  He stands alone as the most prolific Hurricane in postseason play. 

For the second game in a row and the third in these playoffs, Jussi Jokinen got the game-winning goal, his sixth of the second season.  The newfound crowd favorite added two assists and earned the first star of the game.

Read on for full details including a great highlight…

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jussi+jokinen, playoffs

Ward, Canes shut out Bruins.

On Sunday night, the Hurricanes played a much better game than they did on Thursday.  In the end, the score was 3-0.  The series is now tied at one and has become a best of five series where Carolina has the home ice advantage. 

Cam Ward was absolutely on fire, completing his fourth career postseason shutout.  Eric Staal decided to take things into his own hands, and as I said before, things can get ugly when that happens. 

Now, it would be crazy for Carolina to break their arms patting themselves on the back.  Carolina was indeed very good tonight, but the fact of the matter is that the Bruins were sloppy.  At times, they were flat out bad.  They looked like they were at McGreevy’s getting hammered until the wee hours this morning.  If that’s indeed the case, a special thanks goes to their wonderful bartender Amanda. 

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  Tags: boston+bruins, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, matt+cullen, playoffs

Canes win thriller, advance to conference semis

Tuesday night was a do-or-die for the Hurricanes and the Devils.  With 90 seconds to play, the Devils had a 3-2 lead in their own building and it looked grim for the Hurricanes.  I had already started making mental notes for a Canes eulogy and for a concession letter to the gals at Interchangeable Parts.

But then….

The Canes decided that it wasn’t over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.  Nothing was going to be over until they decided it was.  (please click the link if you don’t already get the joke)

Jussi Jokinen, the hero from the uber-dramatic game 4, scored a Finn-tastic (sorry) goal to tie it.  The crowd at the Rock and the Devils on the ice were shell-shocked.  Their shock turned to horror when Eric Staal fired a shot in from the right circle to win the game at 19:29 ....

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  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, jussi+jokinen, new+jersey+devils, playoffs, ray+whitney, tuomo+ruutu

Ward, Whitney and Staal force game seven

On Sunday night, the Hurricanes had their back against the wall in their own building.  They responded with easily their best game of the series and a 4-0 shutout over the Devils.  The series will move back to Newark for the decisive game seven on Tuesday.

Eric Staal had two goals and an assist.  Ray Whitney had the game winner and three assists.  Cam Ward pitched a perfect 28 save shutout.

This has been a beautiful series and is about as evenly matched as it could be.  Each team has had one easy win.  Each team has had one shutout.  Each team has had an overtime win.  This has been as advertised and then some.  It’s a shame that neither team is named “Pittsburgh” or “Washington”, or there would have been more national teevee….

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  Tags: cam+ward., carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, new+jersey+devils, playoffs, ray+whitney

Jokinen beats buzzer

Holy cow!  A miracle at the RBC Center!

Jussi Jokinen deflected the game-winning goal with two tenths of a second left.  The last time I saw anything like that was when Kevyn Adams scored a shorthanded overtime goal with one tenth of a second left at Atlanta on March 5, 2004.

Carolina dominated the first 39 minutes of the game, building a 3-0 lead.  Eric Staal and Ryan Bayda scored one minute apart in the opening frame to give the media (and Carolina fans) what they wanted: a game where Carolina took the lead.  The Canes also did what every Canes blogger was begging them to do:  they shot the puck.  And they established a forecheck and offensive pressure.  And they forced New Jersey to take penalties.  And they got physical.  And they neutralized Parise/Zajac. 

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  Tags: brian+gionta, carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, dainius+zubrus, dennis+seidenberg, eric+staal, jussi+jokinen, new+jersey+devils, playoffs, tuomo+ruutu

Canes crush Isles, continue to roll.

On Tuesday night, the Islanders didn’t bother showing up to the RBC Center, as the Hurricanes cruised to an embarrassingly easy 9-0 victory.  In fact,. the Isles only mustered 12 shots on goal for the entire game, compared to Carolina’s 57.  The differential of 45 SOG is a new franchise record. 

Eric Staal notched his fourth hat trick of the season, scoring three goals and adding one assist.  This was the “one more big game” that I’ve been promising out of him.  Tuomo Ruutu scored two.  Dwight Helminen, Scott Walker, Rod Brind’Amour and Frantisek Kaberle scored one each. 

Cam Ward earned his 39th win and his fifth shutout of the season.  The former sets a new franchise record.

This is Carolina’s ninth straight win, which ties a mark that was set twice during the 2005-06 Cup-winning season.  It is also a franchise best twelfth consecutive home victory.

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  Tags: cam+ward., carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, new+york+islanders

Carolina sets new franchise mark

On Thursday night, the Hurricanes won their seventh straight game and their tenth in a row at home.  The latter is a new franchise record.  The final score was 4-2, with Eric Staal and Rod Brind’Amour each scoring one and Chad LaRose notching two, including the game-winner. 
Simultaneous with the start of the game, Chad LaRose was featured on the NHL Network’s “A Day in the Life”.  Most of the program surrounded him antagonizing Sean Avery in the March 9 game between these same two teams.  It was a big day for the little guy.

Carolina has now leapfrogged Pittsburgh and Philly into fourth place.  The Canes have 93 standings points and four remaining games.  They still haven’t guaranteed a playoff spot, but this makes it almost a certainty.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, new+york+rangers, ray+whitney

Staal joins elite club

Last week, Eric Staal scored five goals and added four assists in three games.  He was named the NHL’s first star of the week.  Those five goals helped him join an extremely elite club.

There are only five players, including Staal who have scored 30 or more regular season goals in each of the last four seasons.  Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin are the other four.  Vincent Lacavalier (28), Henrik Zetterberg (26) and Olli Jokinen (23) are all likely to hit 30 this season and join that elite club. 

Hats off to Eric for this accomplishment.

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  Tags: eric+staal

Staal, Canes destroy Tampa

On Saturday night, the Hurricanes scored a season high nine goals in a rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Eric Staal had a career high six (4/2) points, which matches a franchise mark set by Ron Francis back in the Hartford days.  Carolina did all its scoring in the first 40 minutes, then eased off the throttle, settling for a 9-3 final.

Staal’s six point night was huge, but his first line mates also had huge nights of their own.  Tuomo Ruutu pitched in with five (2/3) points and Erik Cole had four (0/4).  15 points out of the top line is one heck of a night.  There was way too much scoring to enumerate the goals, but it was one shorthanded goal, two power play goals and six even strength markers.  When it didn’t matter, Tampa scored two unanswered goals in the third.

On Carolina’s current three-game winning streak, they’ve scored 20 goals and given up just six.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, erik+cole, tampa+bay+lightning, tuomo+ruutu

Back in Black—- Canes host Avs

Today the Hurricanes will be hosting the Westerm Conference cellar dweller Avalanche.  They may be in last place, but they’ve won four games in a row even without Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny and J-M Liles.  They’re also the only team that Carolina has never beaten.  The last time the Whaler/Canes beat the Nordique/Avs was thirteen years ago.  On February 9, 1996, the Whale beat the Avs 3-2 in overtime.  The Avs were a machine that year.

Carolina will be wearing the alternate uniforms today.  In eleven previous outings wearing black, Carolina is 4-5-2.  Incidentally, the two overtime losses wearing black were both on the road.

The key to this game will be for Eric Staal to be active.  The earlier the better.  When he is, good things happen.  The Canes are 16-2-1 when Staal scores at least one goal.  He has two consecutive multi-point nights. 

Tim Conboy, who can play defense or wing, will remain in the lineup.  Brandon Sutter will most likely be a healthy scratch. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, colorado+avalanche, eric+staal

Ward, Canes shut out Sabres

One night after looking like the worst team in hockey, the Hurricanes came out and got an impressive and crucial road win by shutting out the Sabres 3-0. 

Eric Staal was a one-man wrecking crew in the first period.  He scored a power play goal by grabbing a puck out of the air, gloving it legally to himself, then firing a shot from the high slot.  It hit a Buffalo player on the way in and got past Miller.

Later, with a delayed penalty in hand, Staal worked his way through a trio of matadors and fired a shot from the low slot off Miller.  Chad LaRose pounced on the rebound to make it 2-0.  Staal had the primary assist and Anton Babchuk got the other.

As bad as Carolina looked in the previous two games, they came out with a ton of jump in the first period and set the tone of the game. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Staal good to go

On Thursday night, Eric Staal wasn’t on the ice or even on the bench when Carolina stunned San Jose with a shootout win.  He played the first two periods, but stayed in the dressing room after the second intermission with what was reported as a “lower body concern”.  Later, we learned that it was, specifically, a hamstring issue. 

The Caniac nation held their collective breath, fearing that the iron man might miss his first game since March of 2004.  We all let out a sigh of relief when it was announced that the captain-in-waiting is “Staal good” to play in Phoenix tonight.  After a stress test and a morning skate, Staal and coach Paul Maurice deemed him perfectly fit.

“Staal is fine,” (Paul Maurice) said.  “He feels 100 percent ready, wants all his minutes and doesn’t want a reduced role.”

story

With his clearance to play, Staal’s 307 game streak will remain active.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal

Staal, Ward lead Canes over Pens

On Tuesday, the Hurricanes used a 32-save outing by Cam Ward and Eric Staal’s 20th goal to outlast the Penguins 2-1 and catapult themselves back into the top eight in the East.

All season long, it’s been Good Canes/Bad Canes.  Tonight, the “Good” Canes showed up and won their second straight game as they head into the ASG.  Early in the game, it looked like Bad Canes, as they fell behind 1-0 early, then squandered a lengthy five-on-three in the first period.  Carolina recovered with a gorgeous power play goal late in the first, then the game-winner by Staal at 8:01 of the second.

To finish the game, Carolina killed a four minute high-sticking minor that ended up being a six-on-four power play.

For the second straight night, Tuomo Ruutu did some of the unglamorous things very well, and deserves a boatload of credit.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal, pittsburgh+penguins, tuomo+ruutu

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