Monday, November 16, 2009

Canes end winless streak with 5-4 shootout win

If I wanted to be negative I would say we blew leads of 3-0 and 4-1 but when you are just fighting your way out of a 14 game winless streak you find the positives. The offense managed to score 4 goals. Yes, Minnesota did too but Michael Leighton has seen very limited action playing behind Cam Ward. He played well enough to get the win and came up big in the shootout. Its tough to stay sharp without real game action. Leighton has an opportunity to get a lot of action and get his confidence in net back. He is competing with the newly acquired veteran Manny Legace. Hopefully something good will come out of Cams extended stay on the injured list. A confident, solid number 2 goalie that will enable coach Maurice to rest Cam occasionally when he comes back.
It will be interesting to see if the Canes can turn things around. The weight of the losing streak is gone. Now it is time for the talent and character in the locker room to shine through. This team is so much better than their record and needs to prove it on the ice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Canes fall to last in NHL

If you are a Canes fan these are some dark times to be sure. We have lost 12 straight and have fallen to last in the eastern conference. As if that wasn't enough, Cam Ward, the starting goalie, was lost indefinitely with a lacerated thigh. Eric Staal is already on the shelf with an "upper body" injury and is not due back for some time.

This fan is very disappointed with the losing streak the Canes are on but I have faith that they will turn it around. This team had a great run in the playoffs in '02 losing to the talented Red Wings. Then there was the ultimate high of us winning the Stanley Cup in '06. Just last year we managed to make the eastern cup finals after beating New Jersey and Boston in dramatic fashion only to be over matched by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. I enjoyed those seasons very much so you can bet I am not about to stop supporting my Hurricanes!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Canes Bring Back Aaron Ward

The Carolina Hurricanes traded forward Patrick Eaves and a 4th round draft pick to the Boston Bruins for Aaron Ward. The 6"2 defenceman had 3 goals and 7 assists along with a plus/minus 16 for the Bruins in '09. His experience and grit should be welcomed back with open arms by the Canes.

Ward played on the '06 Cup team before leaving via free agency for the Rangers.
Ward was at the center of some controversy after being punched in the face by the Canes' Scott Walker during the playoffs. Hopefully there won't be any lingering ill feelings between the two players now that they are teammates.

The Bruins placed winger Patrick Eaves on waivers. You have to wonder if this may be the end of his career. He has had numerous serious injuries. I'm hoping someone will sign him and he can play up to his potential.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Canes sign Ruutu to 3 Year Deal

The Carolina Hurricanes avoided arbitration by signing Tuomo Ruutu to a 3 year deal worth 3m, 4m, and 4.4m. This signing was crucial to the Canes. Ruutu brings that nasty, hard to play against physicality along with the ability to put the puck in the back of the net. Ruutu had his best offensive season in the NHL with 26 goals and 28 assists. He also stayed healthy and played in 79 games. Ruutu is a fan favorite in Carolina. Many Caniacs along with myself are breathing a sigh of relief with this signing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Carolina Hurricanes voted 2nd Best Franchise by ESPN

The Canes take quite a bit of flack about being a hockey team from the south where many northerners believe hockey shouldn't be. Tampa Bay winning the cup in '04 and the Canes in '06 beg to differ.
We are passionate about our team here in Raleigh. Many welcome the team home win or lose at the airport during the playoffs. Caniacs show up as early as they will open the gates for hours of intense tailgating.
Just attending 1 game at the RBC Center is many times enough to win over a new fan. Personally I was hooked after attending 2 games in Greensboro when the Canes first came to Carolina. Once the team moved into their new arena in Raleigh the experience has gotten better every year win or lose.
I have fond memories of buying a ticket in the parking lot years ago so I could watch Mario Lemieux play against us the year he came out of retirement. It was well worth the inflated price I paid!
I also remember enjoying tailgating during '02 playoffs and meeting many nice Montreal fans in the parking lot and inside the arena. They really appreciated the tailgating experience.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Babchuk: To Be a Cane or Not

Rutherford made a qualifying offer of 1 million and so far Babchuk and his agent have not signed it. I agree that Babchuk has done some stupid things like not going to Albany when assigned there and bolting for Russia instead. After a year there he came back and played very well for this team last year. He was tied for 5th in overall goals for a defenceman with 16. He was 26th in the plus/minus department with (+13) I think Babchuk should have signed the offer sheet. He was lucky to have been brought back from Russia. He played pretty well during the season but was a healthy scratch in many of the playoff games. I guess it is a case of both sides being stubborn. JR holds the cards and I think 1 million is fair. He should sign the offer sheet and play like he has something to prove. Then come next year he would deserve that raise from us or another team.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Heatley deserves nothing

A no trade clause is there to protect a player from being traded to a team they don't want to play for. When a player goes to management asking to be traded that clause should automatically be null and void. Ottawa had a good deal set up with Edmonton where they were getting value back for Heatley. He said no to the trade. Now if Ottawa doesn't trade him he can just sit home while the NHL goes on without him. Heatley is talented but selfish.

Flyers D gets tougher with Pronger

Philly recently added Chris Pronger to their team adding instant snarl to their defence. He is a ferocious hitter and has a hard shot from the blueline. He knows what it takes to win the cup after winning it with the Ducks and falling short against the Canes. I dread seeing him in the East for the simple fact that he will play against us 4 times.

Ruutu files for arbitration

Tuomo Ruuto has filed for salary arbitration but don't be surprised if he is signed before the hearing. Rutherford has a history of signing the players before the hearing date. Filing for arbitration keeps other teams from tendering offers to the player. Ruutu is a must sign in my opinion. His punishing hits combined with his scoring touch are sorely needed. He became a fan favorite in his first game after taking a high stick from Patrick Elias that opened up a cut taking 40 stitches to close. He skated off the ice and did not miss a game. If I were a gambler I would bet on Rutherford doing whatever it takes to re-sign Ruutu.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Making a splash in free agency not always wise

My Canes haven't made any free agent signings that make the big headlines but they did bring Cole and LaRose back into the fold. The best part is JR didn't have to break the bank to do it. You can always count on the Rangers to go after the biggest names but then they have some of the biggest flops too. They have 8 out of the 25 biggest free agent busts on They very well may have done it again this year with injury prone Marion Gaborik. I admit to hoping for a big name to sign with the Canes every year at this time but JR has proven time and again that he knows what he is doing. I am very glad not to be like Montreal who is moving players in and out like a turnstile. We don't have the big budget down here in Raleigh but I think JR makes the most of what he has to work with. When the dust settles I would wager he will make a low profile deal or two.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hossa signs ridiculous 12 year deal

Hossa is a great player but 12 years? This is ludricrous even without a tough economy. What happens when they want to trade him when his play starts dropping off? I thought these crazy long contracts were history but it appears some GMs never learn. Look how the Rangers tied their hands with long term deals with Scott Gomez and Chris Drury.

Cole signs 2 year deal with the Canes

The Hurricanes re-signed Erik Cole to a 2 year deal today. It is a reasonable deal for both Cole and the Canes. I think where teams get themselves into trouble in this economic climate is with 3 or more year contracts that are hard to unload if needed. It was less than the 4 mil a year he was making but coming off a sub par year it was to be expected. Maybe the phone wasn't ringing and his agent figured he better take the deal on the table. Hopefully he will bounce back and play like I know he is capable of. Now I wait to hear able LaRose.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rutherford not hopeful of signing Cole and LaRose

It sounds like from the press releases that Erik Cole and Chad LaRose are as good as gone. I really thought Cole would sign based on his good fit here and the way his year went in Edmonton. He helped get our team over the hump and into the playoffs. He didn't score a goal in the playoffs but was a factor with his grit. Chad LaRose had a career year with 19 goals and 4 playoff goals. Chad was a spark plug for the Canes. He deserves a raise but obviously wants more than JR is prepared to play. I hate to see these players go but thats the way it goes with small market economics.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Penguins sign Guerin and Adams

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed potential free agent Bill Guerin to a 1 year deal. Guerin helped in their quest for the Stanley Cup but usually players his age are signed as rent-a-players. In another gesture of "Post Stanley Cup Winning Loyalty" the Pens signed 32 year old Craig Adams to a 2 year deal. He did a good job as a role player in the playoffs but 2 years? Will these moves work out for the Pens? Only time will tell.

Canes sign Jokinen to 2 year deal

The Hurricanes made a wise decision in locking down versatile Jussi Jokinen to a 2 year deal today. He can play center or wing and proved in the playoffs that he excels in high pressure situations. Some players fold come playoff time but not Jussi. I'm glad to see that the "Finisher" will be back in a Canes jersey in the fall!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Maurice and staff to stay

JR in my opinion made a wise decision in keeping the Canes coaching staff intact. They did a great job getting us to the conference final this year. It will be interesting to see how they do having the team from training camp and being able to decide which players will make the team. I wouldn't be surprised to see a River Rat or two make the team. (The Rats are our minor league affiliate from Albany) One of the biggest questions is how Brind 'Amour will respond after a sub-par year coming off his 2 knee surgerys. I personnally think he will come back healthy and eager to prove he still has gas in the tank. I think Ruutu should definitely be resigned. Cole and LaRose will be back if the price is right I would expect.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Draft, Free Agency, and Trades

Now that hockey is done for the year the only thing of interest for me is who we might draft in on June 26th, which players sign with new teams during free agency, and any trades that might occur before free agency begins on July 1st. I'm mostly interested in which Canes Jim Rutherford resigns and who he might bring in new via trade or free agency. Its pretty much a given that we won't be making in big splashes but JR has been know to make some good moves that were under the radar. Corey Stillman in '06 comes to mind. Jussi Jokinen is a recent example. The biggest trade is recent history in my mind was trading rookie Jack Johnson. I think Tim Gleason has paid off for us.

It will be interesting to see where Heatley ends up now that he has asked for a trade out of Ottawa. To much heat in the kitchen for you Heatley? Ottawa should get a good return for him.

Philly is giving trouble goalie Ray Emery another shot. He spent last year out of the NHL when no team was willing to bring a potential troublemaker into their fold.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Penguins skate the cup in hockey town!

I guess it just makes sense that the Pens return the favor and skate the cup on Detroit's home ice after watching it in agony last year. Wings fans and players now know first hand just how much it hurts to be so close to winning but tasting defeat instead. I admit I was cheering for the Wings but I have to say after seeing Crosby go out with an injury and try to gut it out in the 3rd period unsuccessfully I decided maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to see them skate the cup. After all didn't they do to Detroit what my Canes did to Boston in winning a game 7 on the road? They outworked the Wings and Fleury silenced his many doubters. (many of whom were Pens fans) I enjoying seeing J. Staal hoist the cup-Malkin and Orpick not so much.

Last dose of hockey til Fall

Finally game 7 is here but it is bittersweet for hockey fanatics like me. Yes, we finally get to see the Stanley Cup awarded after several months of nail biting hockey but then comes months without any hockey at all. I always tear up when I watch the post series handshakes and see the cup awarded. I really feel for the team that fought so hard to win the cup and to get so close yet go home empty handed. I started out as a Caniac about 8 years ago but I gradually transformed into a hockey fan after watching the playoffs one season. The guts and determination these athletes showed in their quest for the cup. I started not just watching the Canes games but other teams as well. Now when playoff time rolls around I am tuned even if my Canes are out of it. My best memory of hockey will always be that glorious '06 run when we won the cup.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Game 7 Winner drinks from the cup

Pittsburgh was able to hold off the Wings comeback attempt in the final period to force a game 7 on Friday night. I am personally glad to have another game to watch but should the Red Wings choke on home ice they and their fans will look back on a failure to clinch in game 6. Fleury played his best game so far but Osgood kept the Wings close with some brilliant saves of his own. The Wings kept Malkin and Crosby from scoring but still managed to lose. The Wings had some golden opportunities to tie it thanks to Malkin but failed to convert on either power play. Hossa has to be more tense then the other Red Wings in that should they lose he will have chosen wrong in leaving Pittsburgh and the lucrative contract. It was admirable in that he chose what he thought was his best chance at the cup over dollars and a long term contract. I for one hope he is rewarded by skating the Cup. While not being a Red Wings fan I admire how they have fought through all their injuries to get to the SCF and hope they hoist it Friday night. Normally I cheer for the underdog but seeing Pittsburghs many cheap shots against my Canes and now again against the Wings makes me a big time Wings fan for one more game. Heres hoping class and determination comes through one more time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finish them off!

I am hoping the Wings will finish off the Pens tonight. Us Caniacs know better than most that anything CAN happen if you push it to a game 7. (See NJ and Boston) I'm sure the Pens will play much better tonight. The first 10 minutes will be key to who is going to win it. Should the Wings grab an early lead and take the crowd out of it I think you can stick a fork in the Pens. I'm sure Fleury will bounce back with a better game but will it be enough? I can't wait for the puck to drop to find out. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if the Pens push it to 7 because it would mean one more game of hockey but make no mistake-this Caniac is pulling for the Wings all the way!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

On the Brink

After 2 straight wins by the Pens it looked like the Wings might be running on empty. They bounced back last night with a convincing shutout by Osgood. Pittsburgh really came off their discipline and the Wings made them pay by putting the puck in the net. Crosby set a bad example with his slashes. You would expect more from the captain. Datsyuk was back after missing 7 games. He made a big impact and did not seem rusty. I look for the Pens to come out with a desperate effort and would not be surprised to see this series go 7.

Friday, June 5, 2009

After the Wings won the first 2 games of the series it would seem they were in the drivers seat. Now the Pens have evened things up in convincing fashion. The Wings seem very beatable now. It will be interesting to see how they respond to this confident Pens team back on home ice with the last change. Who will break serve first? Did Hossa bet on the wrong horse? Stay tuned-these questions will be answered in the next 2 to 3 games!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A season to remember

With the way the Canes season started it looked like we might be on the outside looking in again come playoff time. JR turned alot of heads by bringing in former coach Paul Maurice. I admit I was one of the many second guessing the move and thinking it was a mistake. Boy, was I wrong! Coach Mo got the team to be more responsible on the defensive side of the puck. We were cheating towards creating offense. Within a couple of weeks the odd number rushes were drastically cut down. JR also made a couple of moves that helped us down the stretch and into the playoffs. He traded some players not being used to Tampa Bay for Jussi Jokinen. Jussi was great in shootouts and was able to play center or wing. Around the trade deadline JR sent injured Justin Williams to L.A. and a 3 way deal that brought Erik Cole back to Carolina for another tour of duty. This seemed to spark Eric Staals offensive production. Going down the stretch we were one of the hottest teams in the East. We lost the last couple of games leaving us in the number 6 position for the playoffs. The Canes beat New Jersey in the Shock at the Rock in 7 games. We were down by a goal by less than a minute when Jokinen scored to tie it. It looked like overtime until Staal shocked the NJ faithful by streaking down the ice and scoring on future hall of famer Marty Brodeur. Of course no one gave us a chance now that we were taking on number 1 seeded Boston who had run away with the Eastern Conference. We went up 3-1 in the series with some hard fought wins after losing the first game of the series AGAIN. The Bruins battled back hard to send it to a 7th winner take all game in Boston. No one gave us a chance but once again the Canes prevailed in dramatic fashion with Scotty Walker scoring in overtime. Next came the Pittsburgh Penquins. Unfortunately the well ran drive for the Canes in this series with the Pens advancing after a 4 game sweep. The Canes accomplished so much in this magical run. I am proud to be a Caniac and look forward til next year.