Dan Ellis shutout. Dan Ellis shutout. Dan Ellis…shutout.
Sorry, I wanted to get that out of my system.
Anyway. This game was anything but fun to watch in a lot of ways. The Senators are proving to be a frustrating team, and despite playing Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, they gave the Canes a run for their money. As for the Hurricanes themselves – well. Wellllll.
The powerplay is a Problem, with a capital P, that rhymes with T, that stands for Too Much Passing. Fancy plays ain’t count for nothing if you can’t back it up with finish, and right now, the Canes are not finishing nearly as much as they should be. The third line is solid, but they’re still developing chemistry, to put it mildly; Dwyer is a bright spot on an otherwise meh line.
But ah, E. Staal and Semin. They have great chemistry, which is something I worried about, considering both their tendencies to slash, hook, and otherwise sulk their way into the penalty box. They’re generating chances and even finishing on some, and that’s only a positive for the Hurricanes.
Similarly, the Skinner-J. Staal-Dalpe line is a big plus. Dalpe occasionally plays recklessly, but he’s willing to work the boards, and J. Staal is great at gaining possession, in addition to playing the kind of defensive game Skinner and Dalpe are still working on (or perhaps not, in Skinner’s case). Skinner had a great chance that nearly went in, and while eventually people are going to stop him from roofing the puck so much, if he keeps it up with that shot now, he’s got a good chance of continuing what he’s started in the season thus far.
Also, the penalty kill. Tracy and Forslund mentioned Muller and Maclean had been working on the PK this week, and it really showed. Ottawa is aggressive, especially with Karlsson at the point, but the Canes’ PK stayed perfect and – more importantly, in a lot of ways – limited Ottawa’s scoring chances. The less said about the McBain high stick and the Bowman boarding calls the better; those guys are young and prone to mistakes, and referees are calling things more stringently than they were at the end of last season. That kind of thing will, hopefully, get sorted out. Having said that, McBain did not have his best game, and was bailed out by Pitkanen more than once. Much though I love Joni Pitkanen, McBain needs to be able to hold his own.
All in all, this game wasn’t great – but it’s two points, so at the end of the night, I’m happy. The Canes play Philadelphia tomorrow, which will be a great test of just how well they manage to keep their legs under them. Until then, I and my beer will celebrate the win.