Hurricanes’ Hope for a Win Blown Away by the Sabres

The Carolina Hurricanes’ hope for a win last night were blown away by the Buffalo Sabres.  The two 0-2 teams met in Raleigh’s PNC Arena, and played to a 4-3 OT win for the Sabres in a shootout.  It was a game that NBC’s Jeremy Roenick characterized as “sloppy play by the ‘Canes.”

There is no question that the Hurricanes would love to have been able to put more than 1 point onto their season record, which now stands at 0-2-1.  Contrast that with the Metropolitan Divison leading New Jersey Devils/Pittsburgh Penguins who are both at 3-0 with 6 points each.  It is easy to see how not winning can quickly get out of hand in the playoff chase – especially spotting teams like those with an early 5-point advantage.  The disparity in points can widen fast, and playoff hopes can get blown away early in the season.  Maybe not as early as 3 games in, but every game counts.  Winning is critical.

Buffalo Goal and another injury?

In the 1st period, the Sabres opened up a 1-0 lead on a Marcus Faligno goal that had further implications.  In addition to putting the ‘Canes down a goal, Andrej Sekera tripped over the outstretched pad of goalie Cam Ward and went flying face first into the boards.  Visibly shaken, Sekera had to be helped off the ice.

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The 28-year old defenseman from Slovakia went to the locker room for evaluation and did not return to the game.  ‘Canes Coach Bill Peters said after the game that Sekera’s x-rays were negative.

Peters also said regarding Sekera, “Hopefully we catch a break there, I think we’re due for one in the health department.”

That is so true.  Injuries have blown away Carolina’s chances so far to get off to a good start. It will be a huge positive if Sekera can come through that horrific crash relatively unscathed.  He is currently listed as day-to-day, and could play Thursday in New York versus the Rangers.

Late today, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Ron Francis, announced that Patrick Dwyer – lower body – has been placed on injured reserve retroactive to October 11th.  The team has called up Brody Sutter from the AHL Charlotte Checkers.  Drafted in the 7th round of the 2011 NHL entry draft, he has 34 points in 99 games with the Checkers.  If the “Sutter” name rings a bell, it is because he is the cousin of former Hurricanes forwards Brandon and Brett Sutter.

The young Hurricanes stepped up

Riley Nash got the ‘Canes on the board :30 into the 2nd period.  A very nice goal scored from being in the right place to knock in a rebound.  Jay Harrison had sent the puck to the net and Jhonas Enroth was unable to control it and the game was tied 1-1.  Not for long, as Torrey Mitchell took advantage of a Patrick Brown miscue to make it 2-1 Buffalo less than 2 minutes later.

Marcus Foligno made it 3-1 in the 3rd on his 2nd goal of the contest.  Then the ‘Canes seemed to finally start hitting on all gears and the young guys tied it up.  First, the recently called-up Zach Boychuk fed Christ Terry for his 2nd goal of the season, then Terry returned the favor as Zach got on the board for his 1st.  Great work from players who were asked to fill injury holes and did so very nicely.

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Chris Terry and Zach Boychuk could be 2 of the “young guns” that may represent the future of this franchise.  Then again, when the veterans return from injury, they may very well find themselves back in Charlotte.

One guy who is making his case for staying in a ‘Canes sweater however is Victor Rask.  The Hurricanes won 68% of last night’s faceoffs, with Rask winning 76% of his going 14 for 17.  He is doing strong work in the center position and with every game making a strong statement that he belongs in the NHL.

On a personal note, I really like Zach Boychuk and am happy that he scored last night.  I hope he can break into the NHL permanently soon.

‘Canes’ hopes for a win blown away in shoot out

The 3rd period and overtime period ended with the game knotted at 3-3.  Bring on the shootout!  Both Cam Ward and Jhonas Enroth stood tall in-goal, but in the end it was Ward that broke, getting beat in the 8th round by Zemgus Girgensons for the Sabres win.  Two of the NHL’s teams with the worst starts ended up, advantage Buffalo.

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Once again, speaking of Cam Ward…

I have mixed feelings about what I saw last night.  At times Cam looked spectacular.  At times he looked like “the same old Cam” as one fan glossed.  Coach Peters said that tomorrow night’s goalie will be decided today and announced tomorrow.

The Hurricanes will be in New York to face the Rangers in what will be an extensive 5-game road trip.  A nice tour of Canada with games against the Jets, Flames, Oilers, and Canucks.  These are games in which it is reasonable to believe that the Hurricanes can do well – sort of like last night against Buffalo.  Jeff Skinner may be back on the ice as early as Thursday against the Rangers. He has been skating with the team and today practiced without the yellow non-contact sweater.  As much as all Hurricanes fans want to see “Skins” back and contributing, his health is paramount as this is his 3rd concussion.  With him healthy and in the lineup, Carolina surely will be a different team.

If the Hurricanes can get home from the great Northwest with significant points, then the likelihood of their playoff chances being blown away will be greatly diminished, and there will still be hope for the season.  If not, then things like Eric Staal going to the Toronto Maple Leafs – which my colleague James Tanner says, “Not Now, Not Ever”  will crank up in full force.  I’d much rather see a healthy team growing under the guidance of Coach Peters, as opposed to another injury-plagued, unmotivated season for the Hurricanes.  I know ‘Canes fans would, too.