Canes Close Out Season Series Over Detroit
Despite this being just the ninth game of the season, it was the third and final meeting between the Hurricanes and Red Wings. Thanks, NHL scheduling wizards! Since Carolina was playing Detroit, there was also an opportunity for the good guys to score more than 2 goals in the game.
The big early story of the day was that rookie sensation (but should Carolina keep him up?) Noah FREAKIN’ Hanifin would be a healthy scratch at the Joe Louis Arena. As was stated on the broadcast, this was not a penalizing scratch, but an opportunity to give Noah a different look at the game now that he has 8 games of NHL experience under his belt. Look for him to jump back into the lineup on Thursday.
Back to Detroit (fun fact: did you know that Detroit exports cars to America? Did you know that was even possible?) where the teams, in contrast to how they’ve played the first 2 meetings, got off to a combined snooze fest of a start. However, things changed a bit when Nathan Gerbe and Tomas “Don’t call me Tommy Tater” Tatar mixed it up in what was such a non-fight that they both avoided 5 minute penalties. Sure, Gerbe ripped Tatar’s jersey and they both got a punch in after hitting the ice, but it looked more like the result of two guys in extra medium Ed Hardy shirts who buy every UFC event but have no idea what actual fisticuffs is like.
That dustup was quite literally the only interesting event in the first period save for the final few seconds. With just seconds to go in the period, Eric Staal had a partial breakaway, and thought (maybe rightfully so) that he drew a penalty. Despite there not being a whistle, and the puck still in the Canes offensive zone, the captain of our hockey team stood there, mouth agape like Tyler Hansborough
shooting free throws anytime. That moment, right there, was emblematic of what irritates fans about his game. Sure, he had a good scoring opportunity, but as soon as the chance was done, so was he. He didn’t stay in the play, didn’t hustle to retrieve the puck, didn’t try to get in position. Nope, just stood there, incredulous. We were too, Eric.
Thankfully Petr Mrazek offered up his comedy stylings in the second period and helped the Canes take a 1-0 lead. On what was seemingly a routine clearing of the puck, the Czech netminder apparently didn’t see Victor Rask right in front of him, and proceeded to hit Rask in the chest with the biscuit. Being the heady player that he is, Rask noticed that Mrazek was a solid nautical mile from the net, and deposited said puck into the abandoned cage. Hooray.
No good deed can go unpunished, and the Canes would end up surrendering a goal just a few minutes later as a result of a poor clearing attempt. While this was more on the team, and less on a goalie making a comically poor decision, it was still a breakdown of fundamentals that led to Detroit tying the game just before the 2nd intermission.
Good things happen when you go to the front of the net.
Keeping the Leadership Express train rolling, Eric Staal started off the third period with a pretty obvious trip. I wouldn’t harp Eric’s stick infractions, were he not among the league leaders in that category for multiple seasons.
Thankfully that ire turned to elation not long after a successful penalty kill when Ron Hainsey sent a howitzer home from the point. Making that goal all the sweeter was that Chris Terry and his 10 pound eyebrows parked himself in front of Mrazek, giving the goalie little opportunity to see the puck. For good measure, and to almost salvage his night, Eric Staal added an empty net goal with 30 seconds left to put the game to bed.
One season series in the books, and one season series victory. On to the next one.
Cam Ward: After coming in late to spell Eddie Lack in San Jose, Ward looked quite good again last night in Detroit. Ward saw 26 shots, and only one went past him. I’d expect him to start again Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Ron Hainsey: Played 22 minutes, helped hold Detroit’s forwards in check, and scored the game winning goal.
Riley Nash: Seldom a flashy player, Nash turned in a solid evening in all three zones. He earned an assist on Staal’s ENG, but Nash won over 60% of his faceoffs and was an important penalty killer.
Sod Farmers: Seriously, what the hell is going on with these guys? Eric got an empty net goal to almost balance out his first 59 minutes of the game. Jordan, dear sweet Jordan. What is the matter with his game? He looks slow, played a season low 13:37, and is still waiting for his first point of the season. Here’s a hint: put the puck on net. In 9 games, he has 9 shots on goal. For his career, he’s averaged 2.10 shots per game.
Offensive Gameplan: Yes, the good guys won last night, but it wasn’t always pretty to watch. For most of this season (still early, I know), Carolina has struggled to find an offensive identity other than “let’s keep the puck along the boards for a while and try to chip it loose.” If the Canes are going to be a playoff contender this season, this needs to change ASAP.