Kukla's Korner

Red and Black Hockey

Entries with the tag: playoffs

It’s down to this

The Rangers have decided to make things a little more difficult for the Hurricanes. They’ve just beaten the Devils and now have 93 standings points.  Carolina must now win its game against the Lightning at 7:00.  As I said before, the Bolts can’t gain or lose anything tonight, so they might not be very hungry.  On the other hand, Carolina will be very hungry.  One thing that might come into play:  it doesn’t matter whether Carolina wins in regulation, overtime or shootout.  As long as they win.  The head-to-head tiebreaker would break a potential points tie and even an ROW tie. 

Both teams have been in this situation before.  Last season, the Rangers were kept out of the playoffs on the last day of the season when they lost a shootout game to the Flyers.  In 2008, the Hurricanes needed a win at home against the Panthers in their final game OR a Capitals loss to the same Panthers the next day.  It didn’t pan out for the Canes. 

And now everyone in Ranger nation will be watching Carolina tonight.  Henry and Linda Staal will be watching.  Jordan is already in the playoffs, and this game decides which of their other two NHL sons gets to go.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Bad day / good day

Friday was a mixed bag of emotions for me.  Due to a budget crunch, I lost my job of six years.  That sort of takes all of the wind out of any sails.  On Friday night, on the strength of the Two Finns and a Skinner line, the Hurricanes routed the Thrashers 6-1 to put themselves in eighth place and in control of their own destiny.

The Rangers take on the Devils at 12:30 today, and every Canes fan will be watching that game closely.  If the Rangers lose, the Canes are in no matter what.  Whatever the Rangers do, the Canes have to match or better.  At this point, Carolina has control of the tiebreaker scenarios, and by 3:00, they’ll know what they need to do. 

If it comes down to needing a win at 7:00 tonight, Carolina has the benefit of playing against a team who has nothing to play for.  The Bolts have already locked up the fifth seed and nothing that happens today or tomorrow can change that.  Will they give Dwayne Roloson the night off?  Will they play their top lines less?  If they don’t go 100%, there may end up being a conspiracy theory about the Bolts tanking the game to put another SE team in.  None of that will matter if the Rangers lose.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: atlanta+thrashers, carolina+hurricanes, jeff+skinner, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Canes hopes take a hit

On Sunday, Carolina had a chance to put their destiny into their own hands.  Regardless of the outcome of the Rangers/Flyers game, if the Canes had beaten Buffalo in regulation, they would have moved ahead of Buffalo and into the playoff mix.  More importantly, they would have put themselves in a situation where they could control their own playoff destiny.  Things didn’t go well.  They went badly. Not catastrophically bad, but it wasn’t good. 

The Rangers won their game in a shootout, and that hurts the Canes. However, t’s potentially an advantage to the Canes that it was a shootout win.  Carolina lost their own game to Buffalo, 2-1 in overtime.  The consolation point is small consolation, but it might actually play a huge role on the final day of the season. 

Carolina now finds themselves two points behind the Rangers and three behind the Sabres with three games remaining for each team.  Although it isn’t a mathematical impossibility, catching the Sabres is extraordinarily improbable at this point.  To catch the Rangers, Carolina’s “magic number” is eight.  Any number of points that the Rangers fail to earn and points that the Hurricanes earn totaling eight will catapult Carolina over NYR. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Surging Canes very much in the race

A week ago tonight, I gave last

rights

rites to the Hurricanes after their home loss to the Lightning.  They were five points back of eighth place with a tough week ahead of them.  Since then,  all the Canes have done is win three straight games while Buffalo and the Rangers lost.  Suddenly, the Canes are just one point behind the eighth place Rangers and very much revitalized.  On Saturday, the Canes got another huge win on the road against a hot Islanders team.

Carolina was behind 2-1 after 40 minutes, and this was exactly where the Isles wanted to be.  They’re the third hottest team in the league since Christmas and they’d only lost one regulation game all season when leading after two.  Joe Corvo, Erik Cole and Eric Staal had plenty to say about that as they each scored in the third to give the Canes a 4-2 win.  Corvo had three points on the night and Cole had another game-winner.  He’s been Mr. Clutch in the second half and is looking more like the Cole we knew from before the injury. 

As I write, the Caps have just forced overtime against the Sabres, so Buffalo will be at least two points ahead of Carolina going into tomorrow’s enormous matchup at the RBC Center. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, joe+corvo, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, playoffs

Carolina’s playoff hopes buoyed

On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes got a boost to their slim playoff hopes, but there is an asterisk.  The Sabres lost 4-3 in regulation to the Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes grabbed a huge 3-2 win on the road at Washington.  This two-point gain puts Carolina just three points back of the Sabres, and Sunday’s showdown looks really huge right now.  The only unfortunate thing is that Carolina’s win came via the shootout.  Carolina has two fewer ROW wins than Buffalo, so as of right now, a potential standings tiebreaker would go to the Sabres. 

Jussi Jokinen scored a power play marker in the second and Jeff Skinner scored a huge goal early in the third.  In the shootout, Skinner scored in the top of the first.  The Caps missed their first two shots, then Tuomo Ruutu iced it for the Canes with a successful shot in the top of the third. 

Cam Ward made 38 saves to give him 2006 saves on the season.  He’s just the sixth goaltender since the lockout to record more than 2000 saves in a single season.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, jeff+skinner, playoffs, washington+capitals

Checkers prepare for playoffs

While the Hurricanes are still clinging to an ever-so-thin chance that they’ll qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, things are going much better down on the farm.  The Checkers had a productive week, going 3-0-0-1, climbing within one point of clinching a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.  During that four game span, Zach Boychuk tallied five goals and five assists.  Two of those goals were game-winners.  For his efforts, he was named the Reebok/AHL player of the week. 

With five games remaining, any combination of one standings point gained by Charlotte OR lost by the Worcester Sharks would result in a guaranteed playoff spot for the Checkers.  As of right now, Charlotte is third in the East division of the Eastern Conference.  If the playoffs started today, they’d have to play defending Calder Cup champs Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) in the first round.  They’re hoping to avoid that, but anything can happen in the playoffs and the Chekers are playing really well right now. 

The Clear Day rosters were announced early this month, and the Checkers clear day list has one glaring omission: Jerome Samson.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: charlotte+checkers, playoffs

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

Pens crush Canes 6-2, tighten noose.

On Saturday night, the Penguins all but ended the Hurricanes postseason with a 6-2 whipping.  Evgeni Malkin led the way with two goals and an assist and is looking very much like he could be the Conn Smythe winner.  The Pens have a commanding 3-0 series lead in what was supposed to be a good series.

Despite scoring first and getting the home crowd going, the Canes were awful for the rest of the first period, allowing the Penguins to do what they do. 

For the second game in a row, the story behind the story is that Carolina’s defense was horrible.  On Malkin’s first goal, Tim Gleason made a pathetic attempt to clear the puck, putting it right on Malkin’s stick in the slot area.  On Crosby’s goal, Joni Pitkänen let #87 just waltz right in, making no effort to stop Crosby or the fantastic pass from Billy Guerin.  On Malkin’s second goal, it was again some sloppy play by Gleason. 

Carolina gave up not one, but two goals in the last minute of the first period, and it seemed like the game was already over.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, evgeni+malkin, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs

Ryan Bayda fined, not suspended

Late in Thursday’s 7-4 loss to the Penguins, Carolina’s Ryan Bayda delivered a cross-check to the face of Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang.  The check sparked a mini-brawl that resulted in a total of 42 penalty minutes being assessed.  Bayda was given a match penalty, which comes with an automatic one-game suspension pending review. 

On Friday, the league reviewed the incident and decided to rescind the suspension.  Instead, they fined Bayda $2500, which is the maximum player fine allowable under the new CBA.

This is the second time this postseason that a Carolina player has had an “automatic” suspension rescinded.  Scott Walker had a suspension rescinded prior to game six of the CAR/BOS series.  Walker eventually scored the series-winning goal in game seven.  Will Bayda duplicate the feat?

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, discipline, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs, ryan+bayda

Evgeni Malkin sinks the Canes

On Thursday night, the Penguins and Hurricanes played game two of their series after 72 hours off.  It was expected to be a great game, and it was for two periods.  If you’re a Penguins fan, it got even better than “great” when Evgeni Malkin took control of the game in period three, leading his team to an easy 7-4 win. 

The first period was complete chaos.  Five goals and just two penalties.  The second period, where the Penguins have traditionally sputtered, ended up being crucial in that they dominated the period in every way.  The third period was all Malkin.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, evgeni+malkin, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs

Carolina’s game two lineup changes

With each cryptic update of the injury situations with Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole, it seems more and more evident that neither will suit up for tonight’s game two at Mellon Arena.  Ruutu’s

right ankle

umm…  “lower body” sounds like it’s worse than it looked and Cole’s

left knee

umm… “lower body” sounds like it might not be as bad as it looked. 

The updates are cryptic, confusing and contradictory.  One hour, they’re saying that Ruutu is definitely out and Cole is a gametime decision.  The next, they say that Cole is doubtful and Ruutu is out.  The next, they say both players are hopeful.  No details have been released about the MRI results for either player.  I’m going to assume that neither player will go tonight. 

There are a load of different lineup options which have been outlined by Luke Decock.  Here’s what I think:

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, injuries, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs, tuomo+ruutu.

Cole Ruutu doubtful for game two

The headline of the article in the N&O says that Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu are “questionable” for Thursday’s game two with Pittsburgh.  The text of the article suggests that it’s worse than that.  Canes GM Jim Rutherford and head trainer Pete Friesen both said that it “doesn’t look good for either player”.

Both players suffered knee injuries in game one resulting from questionable hits by the Pens.  Mark Eaton was not penalized for his play on Ruutu (which some people are wrongly calling a slew foot).  Nor was Matt Cooke for his knee on Cole.  Neither player will be facing supplemental discipline.

The officials and the league got it wrong with Ovechkin v Gonchar, and they have gotten it wrong with Cooke v Cole.  I’m not calling Cooke a dirty player, but the play was very dangerous and it resulted in an injury.  If they don’t tighten up their officiating and disciplinary standards, things could get really ugly.  Frontier justice is not a pretty thing.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: erik+cole, injuries, playoffs, tuomo+ruutu

Canes lose game one, Ruutu, Cole

For the third time in a row, and the fifth of the last seven, Carolina has lost game one of a playoff series.  In every other series, Carolina has come back to win the series.  More important than losing the game is that they may have also lost Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole to knee injuries. 

Miro Satan, who wasn’t even in the lineup when the playoffs began, got things started for the Pens at 9:17.  He stepped out of the penalty box, where he had been sitting for being found guilty of holding, accepted a pass from Matt Cooke, and was off to the races.  He came in alone and ended up lifting a backhander past Cam Ward.  Hal Gill picked up the secondary assist.  Those kinds of goals are always a little more painful, and it was certainly a tone-setter.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, injuries, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs, tuomo+ruutu.

Conference finals predictions

In this season’s playoffs, I correctly picked seven of eight matchups in the first round and three of four in the second round.  Cumulatively, I have 10 correct picks and only two incorrect.  Interestingly enough, the only series that I missed in the second round was Carolina/Boston.  As much as I love my team, I didn’t think they had enough to knock off the Bs. 

The Conference finals begin tomorrow, and it’s time to get my picks out in the open.  This time, I’ll give a little bit of analysis.

First, the West. 
I’ll pick experience over innocence.  Wings in six.  The last time the Blackhawks made a playoff run this deep, Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews were six years old.  Their roster is loaded with some very skilled, but very young players.  None of us need a refresher about Detroit’s playoff history or the age of their roster.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, chicago+blackhawks, detriot+red+wings, pittsburgh+penguins, playoffs

Canes win game seven, will face Pens

On Thursday night, the Hurricanes faced the prospect of becoming the 22nd team in the history of the NHL playoffs to squander a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series.  After losing two games in a row and facing an elimination game, they did what was the most appropriate.  They went to overtime.  AND THEY WON!!!!!

Scott Walker, the villain from game five, scored the series winning goal at 18:46 of the overtime period.  Please see my previous post.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, playoffs, scott+walker

Walker fined, not suspended.

The NHL’s disciplinary committee handed down one of its most perplexing rulings in quite some time.  Scott Walker, was fined $2500 for his actions at the end of game five and the automatic one game suspension was rescinded.  Since the suspension wasn’t upheld, I assume that the $10k fine to Paul Maurice was also rescinded. 

This benefits the Hurricanes, but I’m bewildered by it.  My immediate thoughts during the game were that he wouldn’t face supplemental discipline, and I included that thought in my game wrap-up.  Later, when I was reminded of rule 47.22, I assumed that he would get the one game suspension but nothing else. 

For reference:  here’s the rule, verbatim:

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: aaron+ward., boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, playoffs, scott+walker

Boston Globe:  Possible broken orbital bone.

The Bruins Blog is reporting that Claude Julien thinks that Aaron Ward may have suffered a broken orbital bone as a result of Scott Walker’s punch in the closing moments of Boston’s 4-0 win on Sunday.  Boston staved off elimination, but may have lost one of their top defensemen.

Rule 47.22 clearly states that Walker will be in line for an automatic one game suspension because he instigated a fight with less than five minutes to play in regulation.  It also states that coach Paul Maurice will face a $10k fine.  In some instances, the penalty may be rescinded, but this won’t be one of those cases.  Walker was suspended for one game last season for headbutting Ottawa’s Mike Fisher, so he doesn’t have a pristine driving record. 

Carolina will have to make at least one lineup change for game six, and I think probably two. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: aaron+ward, boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, playoffs, scott+walker

Phil Kessel and Tim Thomas blank Canes, force game six

On Sunday night, the Hurricanes had a chance to eliminate the Bruins and advance to the Eastern finals.  The Bruins had other plans.  They played their best game of the series by far and beat the Canes 4-0.  Phil Kessel had two goals and Tim Thomas stopped all 19 shots he faced.  The series now stands 3-2 Carolina, and the Canes will have a chance to win it at home on Tuesday.

I expected a good game from the Bruins.  I even kind of expected them to win this game. I did not expect this.

After the game was out of hand, Carolina lost their composure and committed twelve penalties in the third including six in the last three minutes.  Of course the Bruins committed nine of their own in the third and most of them were matching.  This is not the kind of thing that Carolina fans wanted to see. 

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, phil+kessel, playoffs, tim+thomas

Mother’s Day and the Canes

Sunday is Mother’s Day in Canada, the US, Finland and many other nations.  Don’t forget to phone your mom and tell her that you love her.  Don’t forget your wife, and don’t forget your mother-in-law.

To celebrate Mother’s Day, the Hurricanes will be taking on the Bruins, with a chance to finish off the series on road ice.  This will be the third time that Carolina has played on Mother’s Day, and they have had tremendous success, winning big games in 2002 and 2006.  They won both games.

In 2002, Carolina was at home against the Canadiens.  The series was tied 2-2, and Carolina had just pulled off “The Miracle at Molson”, erasing a three goal third period deficit and winning the game in overtime.  That wasn’t just a turning point in that series; it effectively ended it.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, mother's+day, 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

The Jus is loose!  Canes win game three.

On Wednesday night, Carolina had a chance to take a lead in the series with Boston.  They had the same opportunity in game three of the series with New Jersey, but the Devils prevailed in overtime.  This game went to overtime, and the Caniacs held their collective breath for the umpteenth time this playoff season.  Jussi Jokinen pulled through for the Canes, potting the game winner at 2:48 of the fourth period.

...

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, 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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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, matt+cullen, playoffs

Chad LaRose’s impression of Mark Johnson

Carolina is up 2-0 at the second intermission, and it almost became 3-0.  Chad LaRose came as close to scoring a goal as you can.  With about two seconds left in the period, Dennis Seidenberg fired a shot from center ice that was stopped by Thomas.  The Bruins decided not to play to the buzzer, but Chad LaRose did.  The rebound kicked out to Sharpie, whose rebound chance hit the right post and rolled on edge along the goal line.  The ruling on the ice was no goal, and the Situation Room confirmed the call. 
As the play was under review, I was thinking “where have I seen that exact goal before?”.  Then it dawned on me.  Lake Placid, 1980.  End of period one, Miracle on Ice.  The exact same play.  Except that Mark Johnson buried his chance and Sharpie clanged the heavy metal. 

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, playoffs

Erik Cole is terrible against everyone except Jose Theodore.

Carolina has gotten scoring from Eric Staal, Ray Whitney and Chad LaRose (who’d have predicted that??).  Each guy has seven points.  Newcomer Jussi Jokinen has five.  They’ve gotten some great scoring from the blueline.  Joni Pitkänen has five, Timmmmmaaaaay Gleason has four, and Joseph Corvo has three.  Fourteen different players have at least one point.  Conspicuously absent from that list are Erik Cole and Rod Brind’Amour.

Brind’Amour has had a very disappointing season, and I’m not at all surprised to see his points total at zero.  Erik Cole, however, had a great stretch run after coming back to Raleigh.  His lack of points is a complete surprise.  But then, maybe it isn’t. 

Against teams not named Montréal Canadiens and against goalies not named Jose Theodore, Cole has had very little success in the playoffs.  His drought goes way beyond these eight games so far this postseason.  He’s been pointless in the last 21 playoff games.  And it gets worse…

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, erik+cole, jose+theodore., playoffs

Bs take game one

The Canes and Bruins opened their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Friday, and it was a solid victory for Boston.  Just as the Devils did in game one of the first round, the Bruins won game one 4-1.  The Bruins have won all five postseason games, and none of them have been close. 

David Krejci started things off for the home team at 1:34, tipping a right point blast from Aaron Ward.  Michael Ryder got the secondary assist.  To me, it looked like Ward’s goal.  However, they determined that it was touched by Krejci in the slot, and he gets the credit….

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  Tags: boston+bruins, cam+ward, carolina+hurricanes, jussi+jokinen, marc+savard, phil+kessel, playoffs, tim+thomas

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

Game seven:  win or go home

This magnificent series between the Devils and Hurricanes will come to an end tonight.  It’s been an evenly matched, well played fun series to watch. 

The last three times these teams have played in the postseason (twice in the first round, once in the second), the series winner has gone on to play in the Stanley Cup finals.

Carolina played two game sevens in 2006.  Both at home, both were wins.  The last time this franchise played a game seven on the road was a 3-2 overtime loss to Montréal on May 1 1992 in the Adams Division semifinal. 

More pregame stuff in a few hours.

Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

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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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: cam+ward., carolina+hurricanes, chad+larose, eric+staal, new+jersey+devils, playoffs, ray+whitney

Do or die in Carolina

Tonight, the Hurricanes face elimination against the Devils.  There is no tomorrow.  There is no alternative.  Win or stay home.  This is actually the way Tuomo Ruutu likes it.

“I kind of like this situation,” forward Tuomo Ruutu said. “You can put everything on the line and you really don’t have to worry about the next game, because if you don’t play well enough there’s not going to be a next game. You play this game like it’s your last game almost.”

  from CanesNow.

For Ruutu, it might be the last game of the season, but a segue into a contract extension.  The 26-year old Finn is scheduled to become a RFA on July 1.  He is coming off his most productive NHL season, scoring 54 (26/28) points in the regular season.  He was given a one-year contract last summer and has more than earned his $2.25M salary.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Off-day:  more changes coming for game six lines

On Thursday, coach Paul Maurice mysteriously replaced defenseman Anton Babchuk with Frantisek Kaberle for game five.  It has been my opinion for some time now that Kaberle should have retired after the miserable 2006-07 season.  I certainly didn’t want him in the lineup during this regular season, so my displeasure with that move goes without saying.

Due to a “lower body injury”, left wing Sergei Samsonov had to be scratched in favor of Dwight Helminen.  I wasn’t too sure about that, and I wasn’t at all happy with the lack of ice time seen by Ryan Bayda.  Bayda had been one of the hardest working players in games two through four, yet he only saw 4:14 of ice time.  I’m not sure what Mo saw in practice that he didn’t like, but I wasn’t too thrilled with that change.

Samsonov hasn’t practiced and is ruled “hopeful” for Sunday.  Matt Cullen also didn’t practice today, but he will play tomorrow.  Paul Maurice has indicated that the lines and d-pairings will undergo another change.

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Filed in: | Red and Black Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Devils, Brodeur shut out Canes in game five

I just wrote a game summary that got eaten by my computer.  I’ll do my best to recreate it.

On Thursday night, Martin Brodeur tied Patrick Roy with his 23rd career posteason shutout.  Carolina was only shut out once during the regular season, and this one is pretty painful.  While Martin Brodeur stopped all 44 shots that came his way, an unfortunately forgotten story of the game is that Cam Ward also played a great game. 

The lone goal in the game came at 11:22 of the second period, and the rest was all Martin Brodeur.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

in-game commentary—game five

I don’t own a laptop, and my computer and teevee are on opposite ends of the apartment, so I can’t do any liveblogging, but I’ll do my best to update in at teevee timeouts.

I think Paul Maurice must want to lose the game.  I can’t believe he started Frantisek Kaberle.  It’s only a matter of time before he shoots it into his own goal or does something else stupid that leads directly to a Devils goal. 

Feel free to leave comments

update 1So far the Devils have killed off a penalty and are about to go on a power play of their own.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Canes-Devils set for game five

In about 20 minutes, the Hurricanes and Devils will square off in game five of a hotly contested series wherein there were splits of each home set.  The smart money says that whoever wins game five will win the series, but I think it’s pretty clear that this one is going to go the distance either way. 

I’d like to take one moment to take a page out of the IPB book and inject some levity into a really tense situation with a really bad joke.  Okay.  Two bad jokes. 

Why do melons get married in churches?      Because they cantaloupe.
Where do cantaloupes do with their kids during the summer?  They send them to John Cougar Melon Camp.

Seriously, some brief analysis after the jump

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Langenbrunner, Salvador doubtful for game five

According to reports out of New Jersey, Devils’ captain Jamie Langenbrunner and defenseman Bryce Salvador are both “doubtful” for Thursday’s game five against Carolina.  Langenbrunner suffered a “lower body” injury during game two and Salvador injured his knee in game four. 

When asked about the availability of the players, coach Brent Sutter was vague, but offered a hint that Salvador is a no-go.  From Fire&Ice

“I thought our five defensemen played extremely well,” Sutter said. ‘I thought the five of them handled it very well. And Greenie will come in and we won’t miss a beat.”

wherein “Greenie” = Andy Greene.
Salvador’s injury occurred near the end of the second period on Tuesday while the Canes were still up 3-0.  A very unpopular Devil, Nic Havelid, had a hand in the play.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, injuries, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

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-Devils game 4

Tonight is as close to being a “must win” for the Hurricanes as it can get.  A loss tonight puts them down 3-1 and headed back to New Jersey.  I don’t have the stats in front of me, but a very small number of teams have ever come back from being down 3-1. 

The good news: it’s a home game.  If nothing else, the crowd will be on the Hurricanes’ side.

Some things have got to change if the Canes want to win this game and stay alive in this series.  Obviously, the top line is going to have to start scoring.  Through three games, the line of Ruutu/Staal/Cole has just one point.  One.  Carolina doesn’t deserve to win if that continues to be the case. 

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Devils-Canes in a nutshell

Carolina’s top line has one point.  The Z Z Pop line has ten. 
That’s pretty much how this is going.

Game two notes and summary won’t come until this early evening.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Canes-Devils tidbits

This is the fourth time Carolina and New Jersey have squared off in the playoffs since 2001, and there’s some interesting bits about the history of this rivalry.  Most notably, the impact this matchup has had on the rest of the tournament. There’s also some interesting history of game two.

Every time these teams have met in the playoffs, the winner of the series goes on to play in the Cup final.  Every game two winner has won the series.  Each series has been won by the home team.  And there’s been a lot of overtime. However, this is the first time the teams have split games one and two.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Canes steal home ice

On Friday night, the Hurricanes played a much better game than they did on Wednesday, and the end result was a 2-1 overtime win off the stick of Tim Gleason.  With the road split, Carolina has stolen home ice from the Devils.  Games three and four will be in Raleigh on Sunday and Tuesday.

Carolina is no stranger to overtime hockey in the playoffs, and defenseman Nic Wallin has been the go-to guy.  He has three overtime winners in his playoffs career, which is tied for second among active players.  Although he didn’t notch the game winner, he’s rumored to have played a major part in it.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, eric+staal., new+jersey+devils, playoffs, tim+gleason, zach+parise

Devils own game one

Carolina’s playoff season got off to a bad start on Wednesday as they were owned 4-1 by the Devils.  From the drop, it was clear that the Devils were the better team tonight, and they played a near-perfect game.

Just 37 seconds into the game, Carolina took a penalty for too many men , which was a harbinger of doom.  Carolina killed that and every other penalty in the game, but that’s the only thing that went well for them.

When it turned 10:00, my DVR asked me, as it always does, if I wanted to “start over”.  I did, so I hit the “select” button.  It didn’t help matters.  The game still panned out the same way.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Part VIII: The one where there’s indie rock instead of pucks

The eighth and final part of a series wherein I look at the indie rock bands (that I know about and like) from each playoff team and guess who would win each series if it were a battle of the bands.

You’re invited to criticize me and my music taste as sharply as you wish.  You’re also invited to recommend things to me.  This includes but is not limited to: suggesting different stuff to listen to, suggesting a different team to root for, suggesting a rock for me to crawl under, etc.

SERIES #8: Chicago v Calgary

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Part VII: The one where there’s indie rock instead of pucks

Part seven of an eight part series.  I’m evaluating the indie rock bands from each playoff city and determining the result of each playoff series if it were a battle of the bands. 

Again.  This is meant to be fun.  I hope that when I am remiss in omitting a band, I will be called out.  I hope that somewhere along the line I can be turned on to something I don’t know about.  This isn’t about the actual hockey.  This is about the indie rock.

SERIES #7:  Vancouver v St. Louis

This is a fun one

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Part VI: The one where there’s indie rock instead of pucks

Part six of an eight part series.  I’m looking at the indie rock bands from each playoff city and determining who would win each series if it depended upon those bands. 

Some big cities just don’t have any well-known indie rock bands, and I have learned the hard (but fun) way that many NHL cities fall into this category.  This matchup sort of fits under that umbrella.

SERIES #6 Detroit v Columbus
A city that invented a different genre of music against a city known best for college football.  Where’s the indie rock?

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Part IV:  The one where there’s indie rock instead of pucks.

Part four in a series.  Once again, don’t bother reading if you don’t like ridiculousness and talk about indie rock.  This installment could get quite silly Or not.  Hold on to your hats.

Again, I’m comparing the indie rock scene of each NHL city and imagining that the games are played by indie rock bands rather than hockey players.

Series #4:  Pittsburgh v Philadelphia

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  Tags: indie+rock, playoffs

Part III: The one where there’s indie rock instead of pucks

Part three of a series.  Again, the caveat:  Don’t pay attention to this if you can’t tolerate ridiculousness or talk of indie rock.

Another caveat.  I am extraordinarily biased here.  We’re talking about my team and my “local” music scene. 

SERIES #3: New Jersey v Carolina

For the purposes of this, I’m going to discuss bands hailing from the Raleigh MSA, which means no Whiskeytown, no Ryan Adams.  I’ll also admit that I can’t recall from memory more than one band from the New Jersey part of the New York-Newark MSA, but I’ll do my best.

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  Tags: indie+rock, playoffs

Part II: The one where there’s indie rock instead of pucks

I was surprised that my idiotic post about indie rock went over fairly well, so I’ll continue with the series and move along to the Caps-Rangers series.  Again, I’ll offer the caveat.  If you don’t like ridiculous things or discussions about indie rock, read no further.

SERIES #2: Washington v New York Rangers
This is probably one of the most compelling series in terms of the battle of the indie rock bands.

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  Tags: indie+rock, playoffs

Western conference predictions

Earlier tonight, I posted my Eastern conference predictions, and now I’ll do my picks for the West.  I really don’t know that much about any of the teams, and I’ve seen each of them play just a few times, but as I always do, I’ll take a crack at it anyway.  Like my Eastern picks, these will be bare-bones. 

#1 San Jose v #8 Anaheim.  I don’t think the Ducks stand a chance, so I’ll go with Sharks in four.

 

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  Tags: playoffs

Eastern conference predictions

As is the custom here at RBH, I’m going to make playoff picks for each series.  For now, these will be bare-bones, no funny business, no serious business picks.  For now, I’m not offering any analysis.  Just straight up picks.  The intent is to come back later and evaluate each series and provide lots of colorful and off-color analysis.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for that, though.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Boston v. #8 Montréal
I’m expecting the Habs to put up a little resistance to the Bruins juggernaut.  A very little.  Bruins in five.

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  Tags: playoffs

Canes-Devils in first round

It wouldn’t be playoff hockey in Carolina if it didn’t involve the Devils, and this post-season will be no different.  This is Carolina’s eleventh season in the league since relocating from Hartford.  It will be their fifth time qualifying for the playoffs and their fourth playoff series against the Devils. 

The when part of the equation isn’t known yet, but the who and where has.  The series will begin in Newark either Wednesday or Thursday.

As if it was all predestined, the Hurricanes played the Devils in three of their final eleven games of the season, winning at home and splitting the two on the road.

For a team that hasn’t been around that long, the Hurricanes have a ton of playoff history with the Devils, and some of it hasn’t been pretty.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

Canes lose finale, await other results.

On Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes closed the regular season with a 3-2 loss to the Devils, who just might end up being the first round matchup.  Since Carolina lost and Philadelphia won, the Canes will finish in either fifth or sixth place.  If the Penguins get at least one point tonight, the Canes will get the sixth spot and will play the Devils.  If the Penguins lose in overtime, the Canes will face the Flyers. 

In what I considered to be a surprise move, Paul Maurice decided to start Michael Leighton in nets tonight.  He was victimized by two fluky goals, then made a bad decision that resulted in the game-winning goal for the Devils. 

The playoffs will start either on Wednesday or Thursday, and either way, the Canes will be on the road.

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, new+jersey+devils, playoffs

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