Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (Photo courtsey of Columbia Pictures)

Groundhog Days for the Canes


 

Phil Connors: Excuse me, where is everybody going?
Fan on Street: To Gobbler’s Knob. It’s Groundhog Day.
Phil Connors: It’s still just once a year, isn’t it?

Canes, along with their fans, have to be feeling more than frustrated at this point. The Raleigh team went 0-5 on power-play opportunities with only 3 shots on goal in last night’s game against the Washington Capitals. The same problem seems to be an endless record that won’t quit playing.

As a disgruntled Bill Murray said in the movie Groundhog Day, “I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

OK, a bit dramatic. However, we do repeatedly witness the Hurricanes fail to convert on extra-man goals. They were 0-for-3 in Wednesday’s game against the Thrashers. In their last 14 contests, the Canes were 3-for-52 on the power-play. Talk about déjà vu.

Rita (MacDowell): Do you every have déjà vu?
Phil (Murray): Didn’t you just ask me that?

Just as Bill Murray tried everything from killing the groundhog to killing himself, nothing broke the cycle. Paul Maurice has made changes with no avail. Although not during a power-play, Jay Harrison’s goal in the third was even robbed by a premature whistle from the official.

Phil: I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.
Rita: Oh, really?
Phil: …and every morning I wake up without a scratch on me, not a dent in the fender… I am an immortal.

The loudest house in the NHL will continue to support their immortal Canes. It isn’t the first or the last time the team will fight their personal demons.

Phil: Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.

Carolina hopefully gets their “tomorrow” tonight as they welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets to the RBC Center. The Blue jackets are 10 points away from a playoff place in the Western Conference Standings. The Canes trail 8th seed Rangers by 2 points.

Phil: Do you know what today is?
Rita: No, what?
Phil: Today is tomorrow. It happened.

So, back to today’s yesterday and, hopefully, today is tomorrow. Confused yet?

Friday night’s game with the Caps ended 1-2 in regulation. Rookie goalie, Braden Holtby, made 40 stops to assist his team in their 7th straight victory.

The first period concluded with a scoreless game even though each team had two power-play chances. Staal and Skinner both received box time for tripping and hooking. Jamie McBain left the game late in the first with an upper body injury. He was sent for x-rays and is doubtful to play in today’s game.

The second twenty minutes was much of the same. Cam Ward robbed a goal from Jason Arnott. Then the Canes failed to produce off another extra-man goal opportunity. Just when you thought the round was over, Tuomo Ruutu earned his 16th of the season with just 35.1 remaining. Bryan Allen had a long pass to Cory Stillman at the far blue line who centered it to Ruutu while Staal caused distraction at the net. Canes lead by one going into the final period.

Washington came out the intermission swinging to tie the game. Alex Ovechkin whipped a snap shot over Cam Ward’s left shoulder to score his 28th of the season.

Matt Hendricks squashed another extra-man goal opportunity for the Hurricanes as Jason Arnott left the penalty box. Arnott took control of the puck and charged Ward. Cam deflected the shot, but Hendricks was waiting. He swallowed the rebound and fired past Ward to take the lead.

Jay Harrison’s goal would have tied the game in the third withstanding the bad call at the Caps’ net.

“They didn’t give me an explanation — there is no explanation on that call,” fumes Paul Maurice. “He had his whistle in his mouth before the puck even got close to [Holtby's] glove. It was just a horseshit call. It’s pretty, pretty costly.”

Cam Ward took third star of the game. As I mentioned in a previous post, it isn’t a one-man show. Canes defense was good last night overall, but they need to put the ‘special’ back in the special teams.

Tags: Bryan Allen Cam Ward Canes Carolina Hurricanes Columbus Blue Jackets Cory Stillman Eric Staal Jay Harrison Jeff Skinner Tuomo Ruutu Washington Capitals