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Tag:Carolina Hurricanes
Posted on: April 9, 2011 10:45 pm
Edited on: April 10, 2011 1:31 am
 

Hurricanes lose control early, miss playoffs

Let's be literal when it comes to the phrase “destiny is in your own hands.”

By definition, that can't happen. Destiny is not controllable. Just look at the Carolina Hurricanes, who were a win away from a playoff berth entering Saturday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Hurricanes responded -- well, they took the ice at least at the RBC Center -- with a listless first period and never recovered en route to a 6-2 loss. Instead of the playoff returning to Raleigh, it will be the New York Rangers who get to face the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

“I didn't feel the tension (early), but it mounted when it got (to a) two (goals),” Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice told reporters after the game. “Simple things became difficult to do. . .  I think there was a chance (that Carolina) was in shock at 3-0. We felt alright going out and had come off the good night and then, boom. It happened so fast that you're shell-shocked a little bit.”

The 'Canes could not solve lanky Lightning goalie Mike Smith, who only had one victory in 10 games against Carolina. (That one victory did come March 26, the ‘Canes only regulation loss in their previous 10 games.) Smith made 42 saves, had one assist and came a couple feet away from scoring with 'Canes goalie Cam Ward pulled in the closing minutes of regulation.

Not bad for a goalie who will likely begin the playoffs on the bench in deference to the more veteran Dwayne Roloson

The Lightning built a 3-0 lead in the first period off goals by Dominic Moore, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. It became a 4-0 lead midway through the second period off a Brett Clark tally. 

By the time the ‘Canes got on the board with 7:29 left in the second via a Cory Stillman power play goal, the game was basically unsalvageable. 

What a difference 24 hours makes. The ‘Canes cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers a night earlier, a game that put them into a position to earn the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference a couple different ways. A Rangers loss to New Jersey would have made the Lightning-Hurricane game moot. Instead the Rangers earned a 5-2 comeback victory over the Devils to set up a win-or-golf game for the Hurricanes. 

Still, Maurice said he’d take the disappointment of just missing the playoffs over being an also-ran. 

“It should make it harder (to take),” Maurice said. “It should make it more painful. The more you invest in something, the more painful it should be when it goes away from you. Still, we’d much rather be in a situation where we fought as hard as we could to get to this point and have to go through the pain of this result than if we would have let it slip away a month ago.”

With the end of the season, teams usually start to list the injuries they have hid the last several weeks. The first was captain Eric Staal, who Maurice said suffered a pulled groin three weeks ago. 

“It got to a point last week (that) we weren’t certain we were going to have him in the lineup,” Maurice said. “He played so very well on limited legs and produced points.”

With Saturday’s loss comes the end of a stellar season by rookie Jeff Skinner, a favorite for the Calder Trophy. Skinner had an assist to bring his point total to 63, the highest of any rookie.  His 31 goals were the third-most goals by a rookie, trailing New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner (34) and San Jose’s Logan Couture (32). 

Soon the ‘Canes will assess who will be around next season. Forwards Erik Cole, Chad LaRose, Stillman and Jusi Jokinen, along with defenseman Joni Pitkanen will be unrestricted free agents. Maurice, who is in his second stint as Carolina’s head coach, even addressed if he might be back. 
“(General manager) Jim (Rutherford) will make his assessment,” said Maurice, who took the ‘Canes to the playoffs after he replaced Peter Laviolette during the 2008-09 season. “I’m very proud of the way the team has performed this year.” 

It didn’t take long, however, for Luke DeCock of The News & Observer to point the blame: 
Someone’s going to have to answer for this. Surely it will be coach Paul Maurice, who hasn’t taken a team he has coached for a full season to the NHL playoffs since 2002 and who cannot account for a loss Saturday that cost the franchise millions of dollars.

No matter how highly owner Peter Karmanos and general manager Jim Rutherford regard Maurice, even they must see that it’s time for a change. Maurice is a good man and a good coach, but the past two seasons haven’t measured up, and Saturday’s flat-line with everything on the line defies explanation.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Associated Press
Posted on: April 9, 2011 12:57 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2011 3:36 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Rangers win, 'Canes on deck



WHO CAN CLINCH: The New York Rangers' 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon moves the Blueshirts back into the eighth and final playoff slot in the East -- at least for a few hours. The Rangers maxed out at 93 points, two ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, a game that will determine the conference's final playoff berth. Here's how things shape up:
  • The Hurricanes would clinch the final playoff if they beat the Lightning in regulation, overtime or shootout . 
  • The Rangers are in if Carolina loses in any manner. 

The only other race that will be decided tonight is the Atlantic Division, which can be clinched by the Philadelphia Flyers if they can beat the New York Islanders.

ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Montreal, Nashville, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Anaheim, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

GAME OF THE DAY: New Jersey Devils (37-39-5) def. New York Rangers (44-33-5), 5-2 .

The chant of "Let's go Lightning!" heard at the end of Rangers' victory at Madison Square Garden will carry into the night. A game after they looked listless in a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrahses, the Rangers got forward Chris Drury back in the lineup for the first time since Feb. 3 and he put in his first goal of the season in the first period.

Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk beat Rangers goalie Henrick Lundqvist with one of the better singular efforts of the seaosn to put New Jersey back on top in the final minute of the first period. The Rangers responded with unanswered goals by Wojtek Wolski, Ryan McDonagh and Brandon Prust, leaving the Rangers' hopes for a playoff entry intact. 

GAME OF THE DAY - PART 2: Tampa Bay Lightning (45-25-11) at Carolina Hurricanes (40-30-11), 7 p.m. ET

Carolina needs to win to unseat the Rangers --- and 'Canes can do that in regulation, overtime or a shootout. They just need get two points in some shape or form. A victory would give the Rangers and 'Canes the same amount of points and they both enter with same amount of regulation/overtime wins (35), which serves as the first tiebreaker. The 'Canes, however, hold the second tiebreaker with a better overall series record against the Rangers.  
Carolina is 8-1-1 in its past 10 games, but the 'Canes have dropped three of the first five meetings between these two Southeast Division rivals. 

GOLF WATCH: Either the Hurricanes or the Rangers will be eliminated today (See above). Calgary, Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Jersey, Minnesota, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 8, 2011 10:08 pm
Edited on: April 9, 2011 3:51 am
 

'Canes strongest as playoff push reaches end


Clearly Carolina got the message it had to start playing its best hockey.

With a chance to personally thank the Thrashers for stonewalling the Rangers last night to turn Carolina's somewhat dim hopes of a playoff berth into a bright possibility, the 'Canes showed their appreciation by steamrolling Atlanta. It wasn't close. Domination at its finest, really.

It would be easy to assume the Thrashers have about thrown in the towel, just playing out the string after a terrible second half to the season. But that would be robbing the 'Canes of their credit.

It didn't take long for Carolina to get ahead thanks to one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season. Rookie Jeff Skinner converted on a 3-on-1 rush just three minutes in, his 31st goal on the year. But the play was created in the neutral zone when Tuomo Ruutu took the puck away from Atlanta to create the odd-man rush -- or it was just poor play from the Thrashers. Point being, the Hurricanes were there to take advantage. And contrary to what their counterparts in Manhattan have been doing, the 'Canes didn't miss their chance.

In general, that's what has happened with the Hurricanes down the stretch. They have converted on their chances, their chance to stay in the race this long. For a long time, they have been in the race, but on the outside looking in at New York and Buffalo for those final two spots.

They're resilient. They're persistent. They've become hungry for that playoff berth. And it shows on the ice as well. That first goal of the night typified that, the aforementioned Ruutu-to-Skinner connection. Hard, aggresive defense at mid-ice set it all up.

Another thing they have proven to be is balanced. The Hurricanes are one of the few teams that can boast five players with 50 points. Of course they're still led by captain Eric Staal, but he's gotten more help this season.

The aforementioned Skinner has been a big part of that. The childhood figure skater has become a rookie scorer, seeming to be on his way to taking the Calder Trophy after a fantastic freshman campaign. He's been a huge reason why the line of Skinner, Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen has been so big for Carolina. Against Atlanta, each score three points.

The light seems like it finally turned on back on March 18, an overtime win against the Islanders. Including that day, Carolina has won eight of 10, with one of those losses coming in overtime. With their backs against the wall, they've been a different team, which would bode well if they can sneak into the postseason.

Right now, the 'Canes have done their part to make this a one-game season with the Rangers. Headed into Saturday, you have to like the team playing its best. That's Carolina.

-- Brian Stubits





Category: NHL
Posted on: April 8, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: April 8, 2011 5:05 pm
 

Playoff Watch: 'Canes, Stars face crucial tilts



WHO CAN CLINCH: The idle Washington Capitals will repeat as Eastern Conference champs if the Philadelphia Flyers lose to the Buffalo Sabres in regulation, overtime or a shootout.

The Philadelphia Flyers will clinch the Atlantic Division title with either: 
  • a victory over the Sabres combined with Pittsburgh Penguins loss to the New York Islanders
  • an overtime loss to Sabres and a Penguins loss. 

The Buffalo Sabres can secure a berth with either:
  • they net a point against the Flyers
  • the Carolina Hurricanes fall to the Atlanta Thrashers in regulation, overtime or a shootout.


The Nashville Predators will clinch a berth if either:

The Phoenix Coyotes can clinch a berth one of three ways:
  • a victory or a shootout/overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks
  • the Stars lose to the Avalanche in regulation, overtime or a shootout.
  • the Stars beat the Avalanche, but it’s in a shootout. 


The Anaheim Ducks can secure a berth three different ways:
  • the Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings
  • the Ducks get one pints against the Kings AND the Stars lose to the Avalanche.
  • the Stars lose to the Avs in regulation. 

The Chicago Blackhawks advance to the postseason with either:
  • a victory over the Detroit Red Wings in regulation or overtime coupled with a Stars loss or if the Stars need a shootout to beat the Avs. 
  • the ‘Hawks beat the Wings in a shootout coupled with a Stars loss. 


ALREADY IN:  Vancouver, Montreal, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Washington.     

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Carolina Hurricanes (39-30-11) at Atlanta Thrashers (34-34-12), 7:30 p.m. 

Any kind of victory will move the Hurricanes into the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, although they may want to take care of things in regulation or overtime. Sure, a shootout win will give them two points and that’d be enough to boot the New York Rangers out of eighth. That would, however, still leave the Hurricanes and the Rangers with the same amount of regulation/overtime wins (34) heading into Saturday. (The Rangers finish up against the rival New Jersey Devils, while the ‘Canes play Tampa Bay.) The ‘Canes still hold the second tiebreaker, a better head-to-head record against the Rangers. 

All of the first five meetings between these two Southeast Division rivals have been one-goal games with four contests reached overtime. (One of the games also went to a shootout.) The Canes’ have won four of the five games with forward Erik Cole netting the game-winner Carolina’s three regulation/overtime wins. The road team has won nine of the last 11 meetings. 
The Thrashers showed with their 3-0 victory over the Rangers Thursday that they don’t mind playing the role of spoiler. Of course, they could just as easily help the Rangers with a victory tonight. Atlanta goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves Thursday for his fourth shutout of the season. 

ALTERNATIVE VIEWING: Dallas Stars (41-28-11) at Colorado Avalanche (29-43-8)
The Stars can either rein in their playoff destiny or get eliminated tonight. No pressure. Dallas will probably know by sometime during the second period of their game how the Blackhawks-Red Wings contest turned out. A ‘Hawks regulation loss coupled with a Dallas regulation/overtime win puts the Stars back  in control heading into their finale against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. (In that scenario, a Stars victory in the finale would mean an entry in the playoffs and would mark the first time a division has gotten all of its teams into postseason at once.) The Avs have one two of the first three meetings between these two clubs. 

GOLF WATCH: The Stars will be eliminated with a loss combined with a regulation victory by Chicago. Calgary, Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Jersey, Minnesota, Ottawa, Florida, New York Islanders, Columbus, Colorado and Edmonton are already mathematically eliminated.  

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:32 am
Edited on: April 8, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Morning Skate: Rangers make it interesting again



A year later, the New York Rangers will really want to avoid a shootout. 

The Blueshirts' final game a season ago was pretty strightforward: A victory -- by any means -- over the Philadelphia Flyers meant a trip to the postseason. That didn't turn out so well as the Flyers skated into the postseason with a shootout victory, but at least the Rangers controlled their own fate. 
The Rangers lost that Thursday with a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, a defeat that allowed the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes to stay within two points determine which team gets the final seed in the East. 

“We laid an egg,” Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game. “We need to move by it was quickly as possible.”

Tortorella said next up for the Rangers is some scoreboard watching. And it’s not as simple as wins and losses in this tight of a race, especially with the new tiebreaking rules. 

The Hurricanes will get their shot at the Thrashers tonight in Atlanta and could move into eighth place with a victory , be it in regulation, overtime or the shootout. A shootout victory by the ‘Canes would complicate things slightly since both Carolina and New York currently have 34 victories in regulation or via shootout --- the first tiebreaker. The ‘Canes, however, hold the second tiebreaker since they hold a better record in the season series against the Rangers. 

However tonight goes, it will come down to this Saturday. The New Jersey Devils, whose playoff push petered out a few days back, have a chance to keep the rival Rangers out of the playoffs in a matinee tilt at Madison Square Garden. The Hurricanes host the Tampa Bay Lightning later in the day. 

Instead of a shootout --- which is certainly a dubious way to determine a playoff spot --- we’re doing math. We have Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to thank for that. He backed the change to the rule last August and while not many journalists like to pull out calculators, it’s certainly appears to be fairer way to determine who makes the playoffs. 

"We felt this coming for the past three weeks," Tortorella said. 

Here’s an interesting scenario: Hurricanes win in a shootout Friday and the Rangers beat the Devils in regulation or overtime Saturday afternoon. The Hurricanes would only be two points behind Rangers come Saturday night, but they would need to win in regulation or overtime since the Rangers would have the edge with 35 regulation/overtime victories --- that first tiebreaker. 

Knowing that fact, could we see 'Cances gaolie Cam Ward on the bench for an extra attacker in OT since a shootout victory would prove meaningless?

While the ‘Canes and the Dallas Stars enter the weekend as the only teams outside of the top-8 in each conference, it does make for an interesting last few days of the regulation season. 

THURSDAY'S RESULTS
Atlanta 3, NY Rangers 0
Ottawa 3, Montreal 2 (OT)
Dallas 4, Colorado 2
Vancouver 5, Minnesota 0

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 
Posted on: April 8, 2011 3:06 am
 

Morning Skate: Rangers make it interesting again



A year later, the New York Rangers will really want to avoid a shootout. 

The Blueshirts' final game a season ago was pretty strightforward: A victory -- by any means -- over the Philadelphia Flyers meant a trip to the postseason. That didn't turn out so well as the Flyers skated into the postseason with a shootout victory, but at least the Rangers controlled their own fate. 

Line Changes
  • Eye on Hockey: Torres gets four-game ban
  • Eye on Hockey: Foote Hall of Fame worthy?
  • Dallas stays in hunt for playoff berth
  • CBSSports.com playoff tracker
  • The Rangers lost that Thursday with a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, a defeat that allowed the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes determine which team gets the final seed in the East. 

    “We laid an egg,” Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game. “We need to move by it was quickly as possible.”

    Tortorella said next up for the Rangers is some scoreboard watching. And it’s not as simple as wins and losses in this tight of a race, especially with the new tiebreaking rules. 

    The Hurricanes will get their shot at the Thrashers tonight in Atlanta and could move into eighth place with a victory , be it in regulation, overtime or the shootout. A shootout victory by the ‘Canes would complicate things slightly since both Carolina and New York currently have 34 victories in regulation or via shootout --- the first tiebreaker. The ‘Canes, however, hold the second tiebreaker since they hold a better record in the season series against the Rangers. 

    However tonight goes, it will come down to this Saturday. The New Jersey Devils, whose playoff push petered out a few days back, have a chance to keep the rival Rangers out of the playoffs in a matinee tilt at Madison Square Garden. The Hurricanes host the Tampa Bay Lightning later in the day. 

    Instead of a shootout --- which is certainly a dubious way to determine a playoff spot --- we’re doing math. We have Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson to thank for that. He backed the change to the rule last August and while not many journalists like to pull out calculators, it’s certainly appears to be fairer way to determine who makes the playoffs. 

    "We felt this coming for the past three weeks," Tortorella said. 

    Here’s an interesting scenario: Hurricanes win in a shootout Friday and the Rangers beat the Devils in regulation or overtime Saturday afternoon. The Hurricanes would only be two points behind Rangers come Saturday night, but they would need to win in regulation or overtime since the Rangers would have the edge with 35 regulation/overtime victories --- that first tiebreaker. 

    Knowing that fact, could we see 'Cances gaolie Cam Ward on the bench for an extra attacker in OT since a shootout victory would prove meaningless?

    While the ‘Canes and the Dallas Stars enter the weekend as the only teams outside of the top-8 in each conference, it does make for an interesting last few days of the regulation season. 

    THURSDAY'S RESULTS
    Atlanta 3, NY Rangers 0
    Ottawa 3, Montreal 2 (OT)
    Dallas 4, Colorado 2
    Vancouver 5, Minnesota 0

    -- A.J. Perez

    Photo: Getty Images 
    Posted on: April 7, 2011 3:31 pm
    Edited on: April 7, 2011 3:34 pm
     

    Detroit's Zetterberg out at least two games

    The Detroit Red Wings will be without Henrik Zetterberg for the final two games of the regular season and his status for the first round of the playoffs is in question. 

    Zetterberg was forced out of Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first period after a collision with Bryan Allen. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Zetterberg sustained a lower body injury, the Detroit Free Press reports.

    “I expect him to be day to day,” Babcock told the newspaper. “He’s not playing the next two games, and he’s day-to-day after that.”

    Babcock added that Zetterberg had an MRI Thursday, but did not go into detail. Zetterberg, who was wearing a knee brace when he spoke to reporters while his team practiced in St. Louis, said the result of the MRI “was better than I thought.” 

    Zetterberg is tops on the Red Wings in points (80) and third in goals (24). He had played in each of the first 80 games for the Red Wings this season. 

    -- A.J. Perez
    Posted on: April 7, 2011 1:41 am
    Edited on: April 7, 2011 2:28 am
     

    Morning Skate: 'Canes, Stars only 2 chasers left

    And then there were two.

    The Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes are the only teams outside the top-8 in each conference who remain mathematically in the hunt for a playoff spot after Wednesday night’s action. Despite a 6-1 victory over the rival Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames didn't get the help they needed elsewhere. Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks -- one of which needed to lose -- both won, although Chicago's OT victory over the St. Louis Blues wasn't without controversy.

    Line Changes
  • Eye on Hockey: Torres to speak with NHL
  • Eye on Hockey: Edmonton moves on new arena
  • L.A. clinches playoff berth
  • CBSSports.com playoff tracker

  • Carolina pulled to within two points of the idle New York Rangers with a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was Cam Ward’s fourth shutout of the season and captain Eric Staal assisted on all three goals. Both the Hurricanes -- Atlanta (Friday) and Tampa Bay (Saturday) -- and the Rangers --- Atlanta (Thursday) and New Jersey (Saturday) -- have two games remaining. 

    The 'Canes and Rangers are currently even in the first tie-breaker, regulation and overtime wins (34). The Hurricanes have the edge in the second tie-breaker, points head to head. Carolina has picked up six over their four meetings to the Rangers’ four points. 

    "Up to this point, no team has done us any favors," Derek Joslin, who scored a power-play goal in the second period, told The News & Observer. "If we can get two more wins we definitely give ourselves a shot at making the playoffs.

    "I know the Rangers are peeking over their shoulders, especially after a big win tonight against a team like that. Maybe they'll be gripping their sticks a little tight."

    Neither the Flames nor the Stars were done any favors either by the referees or the replay officials in Toronto. The Chicago Blackhawks used an iffy  second-period tally to help force overtime, where they eked out a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues. 

    Trailing 2-0, replays appear to show Chicago forward Marian Hossa kick the puck across the goal. (Hossa may very well have tipped it with this stick after he booted it to make it a legal play, but it was hard to tell in the replays.) Even more difficult was determining whether the puck indeed crossed the goal line since Blues goalie Ty Conklin’s catching glove was over top of it. 

    Judge for yourself:




    Here's what Calgary Sun's Scott Fisher, who was live blogging the game, had to say: 
    After a lengthy review, Hossa’s goal is upheld — even though he appeared to kick the puck, which went off the post and never conclusively crossed the line. Considering the Flames’ recent dealings with the NHL’s war room, conspiracy theorists are given added ammunition.

    Either way, the game’s in the books and the Blackhawks finished the night tied for seventh place points-wise with the Anaheim Ducks. Both teams are four points up on the Dallas Stars, who finish with games against the Colorado Avalanche (Thursday and Friday) and the Minnesota Wild (Sunday). 

    PERRY REACHES 50: Corey Perry’s third career hat trick in a 6-2 rout of the San Jose Sharks pushed the Anaheim Ducks forward over the 50-goal mark on Wednesday. 

    He became the third player in franchise history to reach that plateau -- joining Paul Kariya (1995-96) and Teemu Selanne in 1996-97 and 1997-98) -- and extended his points streak to 10 games in the process. 

    Perry, one of the leading candidates for the Hart Trophy, is six goals ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos in the race for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.

    WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS
    Washington 5, Florida 2
    New Jersey 4, Toronto 2
    Boston 3, NY Islanders 2
    Carolina 3, Detroit 0
    Chicago 4, St. Louis  3 (OT)
    Calgary 6,  Edmonton 1
    Anaheim 6, San Jose 2
    Los Angeles 3, Phoenix 2 (SO)  

    -- A.J. Perez
     
     
     
     
    The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com