Sports Outside the Beltway

Under Way- Carolina Hurricanes defeat Minnesota 4-3

The first game of the 2010-11 NHL season is in the books. From AP-

HELSINKI — Brandon Sutter scored twice as the Carolina Hurricanes held on to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the opening game of the NHL season on Thursday.

Anton Babchuk, back after a year in the Russian KHL, and Jussi Jokinen also scored for the Hurricanes.

Brent Burns scored for Minnesota with 3:21 left, but Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward made a late save to preserve the win.

Guillaume Latendresse scored for Minnesota 3:33 into the game, but Sutter tied it on a power play with 10 seconds left in the first period.

Babchuk put Carolina in front at 5:58 of the second period on another power play in which coach Paul Maurice lined up three forwards.

“I’ll do it again. If the power play struggles, it affects the offense, and it has been good to think of something which could be positive,” Maurice said.

New Minnesota center Matt Cullen tied it at 9:52 against his former team, but Carolina upped the pace and took control.

Jokinen restored the Hurricanes’ lead on a two-man advantage at 11:16, and Sutter made it 4-2 at 18:03 after a great rush by Patrick Dwyer up the right wing.


Ward came away with 29 saves, while Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom turned away 31 shots.

The NHL season opener belongs in North America, not Europe. I’m dead set against regular season sports games being played any where but at sites chosen by the teams involved.

The Florida Panthers won the first game of the 2009-10 season also played in Finland. They went on to finish with the 3rd worst record in the league. I expect Carolina to do better this season, but not make the playoffs.


Holy Kreps- Florida beats Carolina 4-1

What is going on with the Cats right now? For 13 games the team couldn’t score more than two goals in any game. Now they’ve scored 11 in their last two.

First a 7-4 victory over Philadelphia. Then tonight’s game.

Vokoun was great in goal like he has been most of the season. Defenseman Bryan McCabe scored three assists for the 2nd straight game. To be honest, McCabe is a defenseman who contributes offensively to the teams he’s played for. Look at his assist totals for the last five NHL seasons-


McCabe has 26 assists so far for the 2009-10 season. Kreps

How about Kamil Kreps scoring two goals? One assisted by Nick Tarnasky who gets in ten fights at least for every point he scores.

Kreps has gotten to three goals on the year now. Watch Panther Coach Peter DeBoer put him on another line other than the 4th now. Tonight aside, Kreps is a crappy player. His best NHL season was 2007-08 when he scored 8 goals and 17 assists in 76 games played.

At one point in tonight’s game, two Panther defensemen had a shorthanded odd man rush. What is going on at the Bank Atlantic Center right now?

Florida starts a three-game road trip on Tuesday. First they play Minnesota, then Colorado, then San Jose. The team is currently 26-28-10 for the season and 12th in the Eastern Conference. They are just 4 points away from the last playoff spot, but the bad news is that 3 teams are tied for that one last spot.

The cats may be getting ready to make a late playoff rush. I still don’t think they will be playing this NHL post season.

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NHL Eastern Conference at the mid point of the 2009-10 season

Due to the Winter Olympics, the NHL season is being being played at a more accelerated rate than normal. For instance, prior to Christmas week the Florida Panthers had four games in a week, five straight weeks in a row.

A NHL season is 82 games in length. Half of 82 is 41. Most teams are at 41 games or more

New Jersey 39 games 28 wins 10 losses 1 overtime loss 57 points
Buffalo 40 25 11 4 54
Washington 40 24 10 6 54
Pittsburgh 42 26 15 1 53
Boston 40 21 12 7 49
Ottawa 41 21 16 4 46
Montreal 43 21 19 3 45
NY Rangers 41 19 17 5 43

Tampa Bay 41 16 15 10 42
Philadelphia 40 19 18 3 41
Atlanta 40 18 17 5 41
NY Islanders 42 16 18 8 40
Florida 41 16 18 7 39
Toronto 41 14 18 9 37
Carolina 41 11 23 7 29

Bold denotes all teams who would make the playoffs as of this minute.
The above standings are as of 6 p.m. on Saturday January 2nd.

Teams all but certain to make the playoffs- Buffalo, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Washington
Team that won’t make the playoffs- Carolina

That’s hardly rocket science based on the above.

I will be greatly surprised if Florida, NY Islanders, or Toronto are playing in the post season. The Panthers haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years and this will be no exception. How is a team that hasn’t won more than 3 games in a row since March 2008 supposed to get the momentum up for a playoff run?

Tampa Bay and Atlanta have been pleasant surprises this year. I’m still not convinced either team can make the playoffs. Particularly so in the case of the Lightning who are most impotent offensive teams in the league,(28th of 30 teams)

Honestly I think the teams who are currently 1-8 will all make the playoffs. There will be reshuffling but I think the 7 other teams each have enough liabililites that it will keep them out of the postseason.


Philadelphia Flyers fire Coach John Stevens

A winning record doesn’t mean job security in the NHL. From AP-

The Philadelphia Flyers replaced coach John Stevens with Peter Laviolette on Friday after the team was shut out in consecutive games.

Laviolette led the Carolina Hurricanes to their only Stanley Cup title in 2006. He was fired in December 2008 and was still under contract.

Laviolette, who also coached the New York Islanders for two seasons, was 167-130-30 in his four-plus seasons with Carolina.


The Flyers were expected to contend in the Eastern Conference this season. They were 13-11-1 for 27 points and out of the playoff picture entering Saturday’s game against Washington.

Philadelphia stands a better than a 50% chance of making the playoffs, but they aren’t better than the fifth or sixth best team in the Eastern Conference. Washington, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Boston at least are clearly better than the Flyers.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said he lost confidence in Stevens. Two shutouts in a row is grounds for firing. How long before Philadelphia’s ownership loses confidence in Holmgren?


Carolina signs Goalie Manny Legace

He will be the Hurricanes backup netminder as Michael Leighton fills in for the injured Cam Ward. From AP-

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed veteran goaltender Manny Legace to a one-year, $500,000 deal, general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday.

The Hurricanes lost starting goalie Cam Ward to injury Saturday for at least a month.

Legace, a 10-year NHL veteran with the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, has played six games with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves this season, logging 317 minutes while going 2-2-1 with a 3.21 goals-against average.

He last played in the NHL for the Blues last season.

At this point in his life, Legace is a mediocre backup Goalie at best. The Canes better hope Leighton picks up the slack or this season will grow even worse than one that already features a eleven game streak without a win.


Carolina Hurricane Goalie Cam Ward taken to hospital with a cut in his leg

He was injured in tonight’s game against Columbus. From AP-

Carolina goalie Cam Ward remained in a hospital Saturday night after his leg was cut by a skate during the first period of the Hurricanes’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ward didn’t fly home after the 3-2 loss because of concerns about the stress of the flight on his injury.

“It’s a significant injury and all I mean by that is I don’t have any timeline,” coach Paul Maurice said. “There was a fair amount of blood on the ice. All I know it was his leg; other than that I do not know any more.”

Hurricanes spokesman Kyle Hanlin said Ward, who was helped off the ice by two trainers, went to the hospital for further evaluation for a cut on his leg.

Ward stretched to make a save while Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash skated through the crease at 7:35. It appeared Nash or a defenseman nicked Ward in the leg with a skate.

Ward was on all fours for a couple of minutes on the ice before he was attended to by the trainers. As he was being helped off, drops of blood trailed him all the way to the dressing room.

This isn’t the first time Ward has been cut during a game. A similar incident happened two years ago when Carolina played the New York Islanders and the skate of Brad Isbister sliced Ward’s knee.

Anytime a Goalie gets cut and bleeds significantly, brings back memories of Buffalo Sabre Goalie Clint Malarchuk and what happened to him in 1989. Florida Panther Richard Zednik also suffered a severe neck wound two years ago. I was watching the game when it happened.

Lets pray Ward gets better and that he will be able to return to the ice soon.

Carolina’s 3-2 loss last night marked their 11th consecutive game without a win. At this point in the season it looks like the NHL’s Southeast Division has the two worst teams in the league.

Update- Ward could be out up to 5 weeks due to his injury.

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The dumps- Carolina lose 10th in a row, Florida Panthers wins 3-0

7 points in 14 games to equals the worst previous start in Hurricane history previously set in 1993. From AP-

Tomas Vokoun made 31 saves for his second straight shutout, Steve Reinprecht opened the scoring early in the third period and the Florida Panthers extended the Carolina Hurricanes’ winless streak to 10 games with a 3-0 victory Wednesday night.Hurricanes Panthers Hockey

Vokoun beat the St. Louis Blues 4-0 on Saturday.

Cory Stillman added a power-play goal and an assist and Reinprecht also had an assist. Defenseman Bryan Allen scored an empty-net goal with 2:01 left.

Cam Ward stopped 22 shots for Carolina, 0-6-0 in the road.

The Panthers have won three straight after opening 2-7-1.

Carolina, 0-7-3 during its losing streak, hasn’t won since beating Florida 7-2 on Oct. 9 in its fourth game of the season.

The Hurricanes were shut out for the third time this season. They have scored two goals or less in 11 of their 14 games.

Reinprecht scored his ninth goal of the season when Stillman’s wrist shot bounced off his leg and through Ward’s pads. Stillman made it 2-0 at 13:46 when he tipped Bryan McCabe’s slap shot from the point.

Carolina dominated the first period, outshooting Florida 21-4. It was the Hurricanes’ most shots in any period this season.

This was a odd game in a few ways. No scoring for the first 44 plus minutes of play, then three goals in twelve minutes. Carolina had 4 power play chances in a row, then Florida got six man advantages in a row. The game ended with Carolina showing some anger, after the buzzer went off Hurricane and Panther players scuffled behind the Florida net.

After their blazing start to the game, Carolina played listlessly for much of the last two periods. I would have to think Carolina coach Paul Maurice’s job will be in jeopardy soon if a turnaround doesn’t take place soon.

Florida has now won 3 in a row. I’m not yet sold on the Panthers correcting their woeful start to the 2009-10 season. If they split or better their two games with Washington on Friday and Saturday, I might feel more confident about my favorite hockey team.


Hard to believe- Philadelphia routs Carolina 6-1

The Hurricanes haven’t won a game since October 9th. From AP-

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn waited five years for his first two-goal game in the NHL. Then he took care of the feat in 1½ minutes.

Coburn scored twice and Scott Hartnell and Matt Carle each had a goal and two assists to help Philadelphia snap a two-game losing streak and send the Carolina Hurricanes to their eighth straight loss, 6-1 on Saturday.

“I’ve had a lot of close calls so far,” said Coburn, who has played in 227 career NHL games. “You just have to wait for your time.”

David Laliberte, playing in his first NHL game, and James Van Riemsdyk each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, unbeaten in their past six regulation games at home against Carolina.


Brandon Sutter scored for the Hurricanes (2-7-3), who are off to their worst start since 1997 — the franchise’s first season in Carolina — when they were 2-7-2. Carolina is winless on the road (0-5-2), and on an 0-5-3 skid overall.

Ray Emery, who stopped 28 shots in the Flyers’ season-opening, 2-0 win over Carolina on Oct.2, made 39 saves in the rematch.

Michael Leighton, making his first start for the Hurricanes, stopped 22 shots.

Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said he thought Leighton needed some game action. You think so? You’re team is 2-6-3 with one goalie who has played all 11 games you played this year. I think it is time to try option two if just for one game.

Even if it doesn’t work.

I’m amazed by Carolina’s start, which is worse than the Florida Panthers. Carolina went to the conference finals last year. Both the Panthers and Hurricanes have 7 pts at this point in the 2009-10 NHL season but Carolina has played one more game. I’m more optimistic about the Hurricanes turning around than Florida.


NHL suspends Carolina Hurricane Tuomo Ruutu for 3 games

Another thug NHL player being wrist slapped by the league. From AP-

Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu has been suspended three games by the NHL for a boarding of Darcy Tucker that knocked the Colorado Avalanche winger unconscious.

Ruutu was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Tucker at 5:26 of the second period of Friday night’s game.

Ruutu will lose $56,067.36 in salary for the suspension, which was announced Saturday. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Here’s the video

The NHL will only get control of this violence by handing down suspensions for double digit amounts of games. I don’t see that happening any time soon. I think the NHL thinks violence like this and the Evgeny Artyukhin/Matt Niskanen incident appeal to a certain group of fans. They probably do, but I don’t know why a serious sports needs to satisfy the lowest common denominators among its fan base. The image of the NHL will always be dirtied by the thugs that play for them.


Florida Panthers sign defenseman Dennis Seidenberg

Did you know it is less than 3 weeks to the start of the 2009-10 NHL season? From the Miami Herald-

The Florida Panthers picked up some defensive help Monday after signing defenseman Dennis Seidenberg to a one-year deal.

Last season with Carolina, Seidenberg scored five goals and picked up 25 assists in 70 games.

He is a German citizen who still has to get a visa to play for Florida, but he is expected to join the team later this week — most likely Wednesday in Ottawa.

In six years, Seidenberg has 14 career goals and 70 assists while playing in 295 games.

Seidenberg, who played for Philadelphia and Phoenix before coming to Carolina, is a serviceable defensemen no more. If Florida management thinks this guy and Jordan Leopold will fill the void created by the departure of Jay Bouwmeester, this NHL will continue to miss the playoffs every year far into the future.


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