Hurricanes in DC

Tonight’s recap will be a little different from the usual form because I was in attendance for the Canes-Capitals game and obviously could not log chances, so I will get those done as soon as the game becomes available on NHL Game Center live (which should be Tuesday night). Instead, I’m going to talk about my experience as an opposing fan in the enemy environment and give my thoughts on the game from the 403 section of the Verizon Center.

Here’s what my view was like.

You might be a little high up, but there is truly no bad seat in the 400 level at Verizon Center.

It’s kind of tough being a Canes fan in Maryland because there’s only so many times a year I can watch my team, which is why I always try to make at least one trip to Chinatown per year to watch the Hurricanes take on the Capitals. I haven’t been able to go as often as I would like since tickets are hard to come by (last time was in 2009 when the Canes won 5-1) but I do my best and was glad that I was able to see the Canes tonight. This game didn’t have as good of a result as my last visit, but it was still a great effort and one of the few times this year that Carolina registered over 40 shots. Not a loss to hang our heads about, but I really thought the Canes could have gotten out of DC with at least a point. Tomas Vokoun had other ideas.

More thoughts after the jump

This may have been one of the best games the Hurricanes have played all year in terms of puck-possession and it was hard to tell that this team was playing the second night of a back-to-back. They seemed to have a lot more energy than the Caps and ended up outshooting them 44-24, which is something that I would have never predicted going into tonight. The only problem is that a good chunk of their shots came either from the point or outside the faceoff circle and the ones that were chances were stopped by Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun, who put on the best goaltending performance I have ever seen in person. He stopped 43 of the 44 Carolina shots made quite a few great, desperation saves in the process. I’ve been a fan of him for a long time, so getting to see him stand on his head like that was a treat. Just wish it could have been against another team, though.

It actually took a few bounces to finally get one past Vokoun because their only goal of the game came in the form of a generous rebound on the powerplay. Vokoun actually made a diving blocker save on Alexei Ponikarovsky only to have Jussi Jokinen put home the loose puck for his fifth goal of the season. When you consider the bounces that haven’t been going Jokinen’s way for the past month (and the team’s for this entire game, really), it was good to see him get a break like that. This would be all the Canes would get, though and to make things worse, the Caps answered early in the first period with Dimitry Orlov scoring his first career goal to make it 2-1 Washington. Despite outshooting the Caps 18-11 in the third frame, the Canes couldn’t get anything past Vokoun and took home another loss.

Like I said, this was a great effort from the Canes and I thought they could have gotten a point here but sometimes you run into a hot goalie and come away with nothing. It is a bit ironic how I complained about the team getting outshot so badly against Boston on Saturday even though they won, only to have the exact opposite to happen the next day. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut from now on? Seriously though, more games like this from Carolina will be a good thing because not every team has a Tomas Vokoun to fall back on.

More observations from the 400 level

  • Justin Faulk and Jay Harrison had the worst corsi ratings among the blue liners (both were still +1, though) but I honestly thought both played very well. Faulk impressed me a lot with how smoothly he moved the puck through the neutral zone and led breakout passes. He seems to do that better than any other healthy blue-liner for Carolina. It’s something to look forward to when I go back and track those later in the season.
  • From a completely unbiased standpoint, I am not sure why the Brooks Laich goal was overturned. He appeared to make contact with Cam Ward but it didn’t look like it was enough to consider it “goalie interference.” At least that’s my thought after watching it on the replay board. Did anyone have a better view of it and would like to correct me?
  • Bryan Allen’s coverage of Alex Ovechkin was spectacular tonight. He did not let him or his linemates have any room at all and seemed to be one step ahead of #8 every time. The Caps first line seemed to be at a pause when those two were on the ice and it furthers my opinion that these two should have never been separated in the first place.
  • There was absolutely nothing Cam Ward could do about that Alex Semin goal. Semin picked his corner perfectly there and the fact that he did that on a slap shot was extremely impressive. It is also funny because I thought Semin looked horrible tonight aside from that goal. Oh, and the Caps took advantage of the Canes bottom-pairing getting caught on ice before they could make a change on that goal too. People wonder why this team struggles on the road.
  • Derek Joslin had a rough game. Was beaten to the net by Brooks Laich on the goal that was disallowed and did a very poor job at preventing Orlov from getting right next to Ward on his goal. Jokinen is partially to blame for that too since he let Orlov sneak in from the point.
  • I was impressed by the Caps fourth line as they seemed to be the only ones who could get the puck deep and sustain any kind of pressure. I’m sure inserting Cody Eakin into the lineup had something to do with that.
  • I didn’t notice Jeff Skinner that much for the first two periods but he seemed to look a lot more comfortable out there in the third and nearly had a beauty of a chance late in the period but it was shut down early. His skating ability is so impressive to watch live and it is great to have him back in the lineup. What was not impressive was his slew foot on Dennis Wideman towards the end of the third. Yes, I saw that and I am sure most of you know what I am talking about.
  • On another Skinner note, I think he might get another shot on the first line with Staal after Tlusty looking invisible for most of the game. Although, I’m sure it is better to be patient with this.
  • Nodl-Sutter-Dwyer had another terrific game defensively and were another reason why the Ovechkin line was quiet tonight. Saw them force a few turnovers in the neutral zone and they seemed to have more chances than the rest of the Carolina forwards. They didn’t convert on any of them, unfortunately but they played their role about as well as you could want them to.

On a final note, I just want to say that this was great way to spend an afternoon even though my team lost. Live hockey is some of the best entertainment and everyone should go out and watch a game when they get the chance. There is seriously no better way to convert people to the sport than going out and watching a game in person, even if the game is between two teams that you could care less about.