Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shootouts galore!

I think I must be some sort of shootout magnet. Three out of four of the games I have managed to watch this season have gone to a shootout - I suppose I must apologize to those who dislike the practice, expect December and January to have a lot of shootouts if current trends continue.

But let's rewind to Wednesday, when the Canes made a trade. They acquired Ian White and Brett Sutter from Calgary for Tom Kostopoulos and Anton Babchuk, Sutter being waived the next day to be sent to Albany. (For those wondering, Sutter is current Cane Brandon Sutter's cousin). Having seen him in action, I can say that White is a smallish defenseman who looks to be pretty solid in the defensive zone - he stepped in pretty well in a pairing with Joni Pitkanen both Friday and Saturday.

I'd say, from this early vantage point, that it's a good trade for the Canes. White seems like a good defenseman, who would certainly be an upgrade from Anton Babchuk's flightiness (I'm not too sad to see him and his seasons in Russia go, although his slapshot might be missed.) Kostopoulos is a good character guy, but not a core part of the Canes team. And I won't miss struggling to spell his name while blogging.

Also on Wednesday the Canes won 7-1 over the Ottawa Senators. Generally a win of this goal differential would be something I'd celebrate, but it doesn't seem right to be cheerful, as the Senators had attended the funeral of the assistant coach's daughter earlier that day.

So let's move on to the two games I was able to view, one on the television, and one in person. The former was a 5-4 shootout loss to the Penguins. I thought the Canes played extremely well in this game, constantly battling back from being down a goal. They really played up to the Penguins level, which I was certainly not expecting, having seen the boxscores from the previous week. They also got a point in the standings, in spite of the refs (and the War Room in Toronto), who showed that they could use a new contact and hearing aid prescription. A goal in the third period was allowed for the Pens where the whistle was clearly blown before the puck crossed the goal line. Luckily, the Canes were able to come back once again so that the call didn't cost them the entire game.

The next shootout loss was last night against the Predators. Where the Pittsburgh game was offensively powered and fun to watch, the Nashville one was defensively driven and kind of a snoozefest.

Interestingly, the same three shooters were chosen for both shootouts - Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, and Patrick O'Sullivan. Skinner and Jokinen I understand, but I just do not understand the choice of O'Sullivan. Granted, he didn't get to show his stuff in the shootout against Pittsburgh, but I wasn't impressed last night. I somehow get the feeling that Paul Maurice keeps writing down "8" thinking Matt Cullen's on the bench, and then is somewhat disappointed when he realizes it's a different guy in the jersey.

Anyways... a more successful week for the Canes than the previous, I'd say. I was very impressed with the play against Pittsburgh - definitely gives me hope for playing well in other close games this season. Currently the Canes are 9th in the East and 4th in the Southeast with 20 points - movin' on up. Up next for the Canes are the C[r]aptials on Wednesday and the Bruins on Friday - not easy matchups in any sense. Hopefully they can play like they did this past Friday and maybe get a win out of one of them.

And my final thought for this post: Make sure you're voting for the All-Star Game! I'm officially on the Paul Bissonnette bandwagon!

Erik Cole stats (Wednesday): 1 assist
On the season: 4 goals, 6 assists

Chad LaRose stats (Wednesday): 2 goals, 2 assists
On the season: 6 goals, 6 assists

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