Thursday, January 19, 2012

Analyzing Apathy

Well, hello everyone. Despite what the lack of posts on this blog may lead you to believe, I have not dropped off the face of the Earth.

And, I hate to say it, but I wouldn't expect many posts upcoming for a while. The reason? Well, there's a lot that goes into it.

I had previously thought that the reason I didn't post as much was purely time related. The season always starts up right when school starts up, and since I've been getting into higher level courses I have little free time. But my addiction to Flash games always spoke against that, and I didn't post at all over winter break when I literally had nothing to do.

So what's the reason why I don't really post anymore? Is it because I don't spend time with computers anymore? Ha. No. My laptop is up and running when I am and only goes to sleep when I do. It is still on my to-do list to give this blog a nice template redo sometime in the near future.

Is it because I don't like to write anymore? The multiple drafts of stories and novels on my harddrive are proof against that. And to be honest, blogging is a lot easier to do than actually write (something about fully developed thoughts not being needed).

Is it because I don't like sports anymore? Heck no. ESPN is often the channel on my TV and I devour hockey facts like the Cookie Monster at the Chips Ahoy factory. No, I'm still a sports fanatic, and that will likely never change.

So what is it? Why does posting here not matter as much to me as it once did?

The only reason I can come up with is that I just don't care about this team anymore. No, not that I don't like the Hurricanes - I would have to throw out half of my wardrobe if that were to happen - I just don't care about these 2011-2012 Hurricanes.

But, you say, you've continually posted through horrible seasons before. You kept blogging through 14 game losing streaks and the misery that came with it. They don't even have Paul Maurice anymore and they're playing entertaining hockey again - why now?

And to that, good reader, I must say that I'm not really sure, but I think it's because there's absolutely no hope for this season. Win or lose, the Canes are going nowhere. And, unlike previous seasons, this isn't a new thing. Being a pathetic hockey team is old hat. What's new to post? Oh we have a horrible power play and penalty kill. Done before. Our captain has the worst plus/minus in the league. Yeah, that's nothing new. The only thing new and fresh about this season was Jeff Skinner, and he ended up getting injured.

There are a lot of players I like on this team. Jeff Skinner is one, Tuomo Ruutu another. Gleason and LaRose, of course. And I really do think that Kirk Mueller has things going in the right direction. But as a whole, this team is not inspiring enough to write about.

So what now? I'm not going away. Maybe after this I'll start posting regularly because I want to prove that I still love doing this. I'll definitely post about any trades or anything important like that. But I wouldn't expect much as a reader for a while.

You can, of course, always follow me on Twitter, as I never forget to update that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I finally like what I'm seeing

Oh. My. Goodness. Best hockey of the season tonight.

I've been able to see two games so far under the Muller regime, and I have to say I love it. The hockey I saw was absolutely amazing. It was entertaining, it actually used our offensive talents, it's creating a chemistry within the team that I hadn't seen up to this point.

Love love love love love it!

Tonight's game was great. The Canes beat the Canucks 4-3 - and the Canucks are no slouch of a team this season. Drayson Bowman had two goals and the offense overall seemed to be clicking and getting legitimate chances. Cam Ward was amazing. Finally I see the Ward that Caniacs have come to expect - making the tough saves to keep his team in the game.

Everything would appear to be coming together for this team system-wise. Finally! If only this had happened before the Canes were deep into a 'rebuilding season'.

Unfortunately, everything isn't coming together on the injury front. Both Joni Pitkanen and Jeff Skinner are out with concussions - I'm very disappointed, as I always love to see Skinner do his work on the ice. I really hope that they both come back soon. There seems to be a rash of concussions in the league recently, especially those which put players out for long periods of time.

I'm still in awe about tonight's play though. For the first time in a very long while I felt excited watching this team play. I've definitely missed this look from my favorite team.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A new coach!


Yesterday the Canes fired Paul Maurice, a decision that was greeted with much joy from this sector of the Caniac Nation - and that was without knowing the coach that was hired. Later in the day, the Canes announced that they had given the head coaching position to Kirk Muller, a former Montreal Canadiens assistant who Rutherford plucked from behind the bench of the AHL Milwaukee Admirals.

Everything I have read about Muller sounds very optimistic - he seems like he'll bring the fresh outlook that the Canes need behind the bench. This sounds like a great signing - although anything that wasn't some kind of Rutherford retread would probably sound like a great signing at this point. Muller doesn't have any NHL head coaching experience, but all reports were that some team would have picked him up soon.

Compare this enthusiasm to my reaction to the previous coaching change. This one is so much better!

I am still surprised that the Canes didn't move Jeff Daniels up from Charlotte to coach the big club - but they apparently didn't want to shake up the good thing he's got going in Charlotte. Which I can kind of understand, but I would not be surprised to see him getting interviewed by teams soon - he's had a good amount of success in Charlotte.

Muller's first game behind the bench was tonight, and was it a 3-1 loss to Florida. But honestly? Don't care. Just the fact that Maurice is no longer behind the bench is success enough for me.

...Not really. I would like to watch some playoffs with my own team in them this year. But I think this is one step to making that become a reality. Or at least not a total pipe dream.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Well that wasn't horrible hockey...

Going into my Thanksgiving break, I was not expecting to see anywhere near good hockey. The Canes were coming off of a 4-0 Montreal loss that was by all accounts absolutely horrendous. Paul Maurice's hot seat was positively scalding and it seemed as though the Canes had hit the hardest rock at the bottom.

Now that I'm two games in... well, the hockey I saw wasn't horrible. I won't go so far to say that it was good, but it wasn't terrible.

That being said, I still think Mo should go. Both games that I saw (Friday's 1-0 loss to Buffalo and today's 3-2 win over Toronto) consisted of some of the most boring hockey I've ever seen. There's nothing exciting about this hockey team, nothing spectacular. The offense is, at best, lackluster - consider that there were very few decent chances against Buffalo and that one of tonight's goals was a fluke, not to mention Toronto played bad hockey of their own.

Maurice said after the Buffalo game that "That was the best all-around team game that we've played this year" - if that was the best game this year, then I am certainly glad to have not seen any Canes hockey since opening weekend. I find it appalling that the best game of the year (so far, hopefully) can have the Canes score zero goals and look pretty pathetic on offense. Yes, they did battle a bit more and played defense - something they couldn't do previously - but that does not make them a good team. I saw a very mediocre team on the ice these past two games.

And that's why I still think Maurice should go. I don't see this team getting any better under his reign - leading up to these past two games most of his quotes consisted of not knowing what was wrong, not knowing how to motivate the team... that's not the voice of someone I want leading my team. I suppose there might be some burgeoning optimism for him as coach after these games that didn't completely suck - but this team is going to have to rattle off about a six game win streak for me to feel anything other than doubt about this season.

Not everything is doom and gloom, however. Jeff Skinner still looks amazing - although he does seem to get beat up around the boards a lot. Tuomo Ruutu impressed me with his fire. And... well, that's all I can think of right now. But it's a start. I guess.

Tomorrow is another game, this time in Philly. We'll see if this 'better' play continues and if it can save Maurice's job.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A frustrating month of hockey

Hmm... it's been almost a month. I suppose I should write something about this team.

Overall, the Canes are 5-6-3 with 13 points - enough to gain them 11th in the Eastern Conference and 4th in the Southeast. This is slightly worse than last year around this time, where the Canes were 7-7-0 and 10th in the East. Oh boy.

I haven't been keeping up with the team as much as normal... but what I've been able to listen to and read about on the internet does not give me warm and fuzzy feelings. Eric Staal, our wonderful captain, is taking after the last captain in that he has the worst plus/minus in the league at -16. (Out of all the things to take after Brind'Amour in, he chooses the plus/minus...) He also only has 5 points through 14 games and hasn't gotten a point in the last five, which is not necessarily the rate that we want our star player to be producing at.

Another alarming trend for the Canes is that they seem to not have enough fire in the game (specifically the last two losses).

"I don't have an explanation for it, but we did not have the fire in order to win that game," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "And that's the bottom line. Whether it's your passing, your hitting, whatever it is."

The above quote was taken from the recap from the Washington loss on Friday. The part that is concerning to me is the "I don't have an explanation for it" section - he's the coach, he ought to have a reason for why the team plays like crap. Granted, this is coming from someone who was hoping the Canes would completely tank so that Maurice was fired - but it really really frustrates me to be reading these sorts of quotes. Because what happened after the Washington game? The Canes turned around and lost to Dallas in a game that wasn't even really a game after going down early. You would expect to see some change, but apparently that's too much to ask.

I go back to a game two weeks ago, where the Canes lost in a shootout to the Ottawa Senators. The led the Senators in shots the first period, and I actually had a warm and fuzzy feeling about the team. They then allowed Ottawa to score two goals in the second and the team generally plays like crap from there on until five minutes left in the the third when Ruutu scored a fluke goal. I don't think I've ever been so frustrated at a game I wasn't watching. Listening to Chuck K call this game was like listening to every poor game from last season. The Canes can't score and only play at tops 20 minutes of good hockey, hoping that a last minute drive will pull them out of a hole.

Because this team seems like the exact same team as last year, with some cast changes. They're frustratingly inconsistent and seem to be going nowhere. I don't see anything changing, which is not good as the present is not looking particularly positive. I really really hope they get rid of Maurice - I hate to see anyone out of a job, but I really don't see what option the team has. Nothing is different. Nothing is exciting. Nothing is making me want to turn off Pandora and listen to the Canes while I work. I know that waiting for me is a team with a lack of passion, at least until the third period when it could be too late.

So, yeah, that's my bitter monthly update.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Opening Weekend Recap

Hockey is finally here, which is great because it means the start of a brand new season, where fans all across the league can forget about the past and look forward to the future and a clean slate.

Or, if you're a Canes fan, you can be horribly reminded of exactly what kept you out of the playoffs last season. Namely the Tampa Bay Lightning beating the snot out of us in our own building.

Yep, it was the same old same old in Raleigh on Friday night, when the Canes lost 5-1 to the Lightning.

The good things:

- Tailgating is amazing, and Friday provided a great day for it. Warm temperatures, sunny skies, and absolutely delicious food on the grill. It was definitely nice to be back and tailgating before the game.

- Jeff Skinner is so awesome. He pretty much created the entire scoring play of the game by himself. He is the shining light among darkness when I think about this game and our chances for the season.

The bad things:

- Eric Staal played like crap. He didn't seem to really be pressing for the puck at all, ever.

- Jussi Jokinen took a stupid penalty that gave Tampa a goal. Unsportsmanlike conduct is always stupid, but shooting the puck at the ref is several kinds of stupid.

- The Canes appeared to give up after Tampa got their third goal. Actually, overall, this game did not have the effort I'd have liked to see from a team that was supposedly still fuming about being knocked out of the playoffs.

Luckily (I suppose), the Opening Night game was not the only one that the Canes played this weekend. They also played last night against the C[r]apitals, losing in overtime 4-3.

The Canes looked a lot better in this one, showing a lot of fire in parts. Eric Staal, for one, picked up his game significantly, scoring the first two goals for the Canes. I'm really glad the Canes were able to play so closely with Washington, as Washington is supposed to be one of the better teams in the East this year. That being said, stupid penalties did the Canes in again, the game winner coming off of a power play goal.

So what do I think of these new 2011-2012 Canes? They look a lot like last year's Canes. Which isn't ideal. During the Washington broadcast I caught Tripp Tracy saying something along the lines of "that's the Cardiac Canes again". And honestly, I don't think that's a good thing. Is a little bit of consistency too much to ask? Apparently so.

So, yeah, I guess Opening Night didn't really put me in an optimistic mood for the Canes this season. But that's to be expected, when the first hockey you see of a team is the same kind of hockey that was a let down last season.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Hockey is almost here!

Less than a week until Opening Night!

I, for one, am really looking forward to the start of this season, if only because I'll actually be able to attend the Canes Opening Night game for the first time in two years.

Am I looking forward to this season's Canes? Eh... maybe. I've read a lot of team preview type things over the past month or so and they all seem to say the same thing - that the Canes didn't add much to their roster and defense still looks to be a weak point.

For example, a quote lifted from's preview:

Kaberle was the only defenseman that Carolina picked up in the offseason and defense is not his strongest suit.
Yeah... that really doesn't invoke a lot of confidence in me. Especially considering how Kaberle didn't play the best in the playoffs for the Bruins.

But let's look at what we have so far this preseason. The roster was recently chopped to 24, with a surprise (at least for me) in Zach Boychuk being sent to Charlotte. Admittedly, I haven't been able to catch much of the Canes preseason games/practices (I mean, really, it is football season), but I would have hoped that Boychuk would have had enough to stay with the big team - I really have liked what I've seen from him.

As for the actual preseason games and whatnot... the Canes have the spectacular record of 1-4. Which doesn't look good, but it is the preseason, and there's a reason I favor football over preseason hockey. Namely, the preseason doesn't really matter when comes to playing in games that actually matter.

Although, an interesting thought I just had... if the Canes start out horribly, will they get rid of Paul Maurice? Maybe starting out poorly wouldn't be too bad... but, actually, please, for the love of everything good, let's not have another 14 game losing streak. That was horrendous.

Really, I just hope the Canes are consistent this year. If you're going to be bad, be horrible. Get a good draft pick. If you're going to be good, have a solid place in the top 6 of the Eastern Conference. I really do not want to have to deal with another year of mediocrity that ends with disappointment when the Canes let a playoff spot slip through their fingers. That has happened far too much and it's getting kind of annoying.

Regular season starts next Friday, so all the speculation will end then. Let's play some hockey!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Remembering Joe Vasicek

Today was a horrible day for hockey. Early this morning a plane carrying the KHL Locomotiv team crashed, killing 43 on board. A selection of former NHL players were on board, including former Cane Josef Vasicek.

If you look at the archives of this blog (please don't, my writing was horrendous in high school), you'll probably find a lot of posts bemoaning his play as a Cane. But that neglects the person himself. Because when I heard the news this morning, and I thought about his time as a Cane I didn't think about the ice. I thought about the one season ticket holder event I went to, where I clearly remember my dad asking him about his knee rehab. I remember his big smile and how he softly answered that everything was well - a personalized response, despite the fact that he had probably been asked the same thing a hundred times already that night. A small moment for sure, but one that seems to sum up his personality. A much better remembrance is written here.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those on the plane. Hopefully happier times are ahead for the members of the global hockey family.