Cary, NC – The Canes had made a great run towards the wild card spot in the playoffs with seven wins in eight games coming within three points to cross That Line. A week ago, looking at the schedule seeing they were playing the NY Rangers and Ottawa Senators, I thought, “Hey, with any luck of Buffalo and Pittsburgh losing their games, the Canes could cross That Line, then be in a unique position of staying above the line.”
Little did I predict they would play two of their most lackluster games of the season back to back. First the Rangers thumped the Canes in NY, 6-2. The Ottawa game had everything going for them, including the Canes unbeaten in regulation streak while in their sharp looking black sweaters, but the Senators prevailed, 4-1.
Lucky to be Down By Just One
From the opening faceoff, the Canes didn’t have their normal jump. The Senators completely dominated faceoffs all game, really showing how much Jordan Staal is missed in that department. The Senators’ jump actually led to their first two penalties. On the nearly back to back powerplays, the Canes had just one entry that was noteworthy breaking their all too common dump and chase. What few shots were taken were easily handled by Anders Nilsson.
The game also marked the introduction of Nino Niederreiter, who the Canes acquired the day before in an even trade for Victor Rask. Rask was suffering greatly in the ice having just one goal and five assists in the 26 games he played after starting playing in late November after severely cutting his hand just before the season started. Niederreiter, a Swiss born player, they say was below his potential too, having nine goals and 14 assists with the Minnesota Wild. Heck, those 23 points put him as fifth for points on the Canes, which is an indication of how badly they need players that can score.
The Sens’ Magnus Paajarvi opened the scoring at 15:47 after Petr Mrazek made a nice blocker save, but the puck was floating right in front of the crease with Paajarvi swatting it in with the tip of his blade. Another case where the defense not blocking out leads to a scoring chance, and here a goal, by the opposition.
For the second home game in a row, Michael Ferland tried to rouse the Canes’ bench and after getting man handled while digging for the puck along the back boards, defended himself against Mark Borowiecki. The fight was nothing and would be called a draw but somehow Ferland got an extra two minutes on what appeared to be a real bad call by the officials. The Canes killed off the penalty but lost Ferland for a long time.
Lady Luck and Foegele Get Canes on the Board
Coach Rod Brind’Amour had to make a point that the effort in the ice wasn’t up to his standard. It could have been up two notches and still not up to his standard as the Canes play was just sloppy and without enthusiasm. Within 13 seconds in the seven minute mark, the Sens struck twice virtually putting the game away. I would have challenged the first goal for being offsides as it appeared that to be the case from high up.
Roddy and Jeff Daniels were reviewing the replay as fast as they could with the video team but the ref was anxious to drop the puck killing any challenge. Just under four minutes later, with the Canes down 3-0 and showing no life whatsoever, energy player Warren Foegele was in the near corner fighting and eventually winning the puck.
With Saku Maenalanen charging the net, Foegele slapped the puck towards the net that somehow got behind Nilsson to finally get the Canes on the board and give the Caniacs some hope for a resurgence against a team they really needed to beat. That did give some life to the Canes as their play did pick up. Unfortunately, for only a few shifts. Late in the period, another dagger was thrust into the Canes as Christian Wolanin scored on a beautiful feed from rookie Brady Tkachuk.
Senators’ Dads Are Happy
Each team in the NHL have road trips with the players’ dads, and yes some also have trips with the moms. The Senators are one of the most confused teams in the league from a very different owner who makes threats about moving the team, calls out players and appears to negotiate with agents through the tough Canadian media. The Senators lost one of the best players and most entertaining players in Erik Karlsson last summer and that alone created a huge rift between fans, players and the owner.
Not much was expected of the Senators this season and for the most part that has been true. The Canes surely had to be looking at two points at the end of the night and I’m sure the Senators know the Canes are a desperate team and would be seeing their best. With their dads present, they finally had to have something to enjoy, but why did it have to happen at the Canes expense!
The Canes are on a tough western Canada trip with three games in four nights, then the All Star break followed by their mandatory time off. The Canes get back into action at the PNC Arena Friday, February 1, 2019 against Las Vegas. Be there!