In the words of Grateful Dead, “Lately it occurs to me, what a long strange trip it’s been.” Although the Carolina Hurricanes are just a few weeks into the 2011-12 season, it feels like a long trip with a dismal 7-11-3 record. Add in a heaping dose of “strange” and the iconic band of the 60’s and 70’s sums up the frustrating start for the Canes.
Besides the inability to win consistently, the roster/line shuffles are as mind boggling as learning the Viennese Waltz while drunk in a dark room. Players can barely keep up with knowing who their dance partners are going to be from game to game. How are they expected to develop that Fred and Ginger chemistry with all the changes? I understand units are adjusted to accommodate injury or spark a new flame, but they are done in a timely manner with thought and consideration. I’m convinced Paul Maurice has a fishbowl full of player names on his nightstand. He wakes up in the morning, stuffs his hand in the bowl and pulls out his lines for the day. I think he may even giggle when he gets a new, crazy pairing.
Possibly the most frustrating aspect of the roster is the use (or misuse) of Canes’ prospects. Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman, Justin Faulk, and Brett Sutter have been road warriors this season. Zach Boychuk has seen the most time in Raleigh with 13 games under his belt. The winger recorded big minutes on November 8th (14:22) and 11th (15:00). The result…a point in each contest. The reward…he wouldn’t see the ice for more than 10 minutes in the following five games. The kicker…Mr. Chuk was reassigned to Charlotte Monday morning. He has performed in 7 contests with the Checkers and snagged 4 goals and 2 helpers.
Also reassigned to the AHL affiliate after a one day call-up, was Zac Dalpe. Dalpe has played in 9 games and has only broken the 10 minute marker once on October 7th against Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, an injury caused the forward to miss a series of games. He did see three games in Charlotte and earned a goal and assist.
Drayson Bowman has excelled with the Checkers claiming 5 tallies and 5 assists over 15 games. Bowman has seen RBC ice twice this regular season and averaged around 7 minutes
a game on November 4th and 6th.
Justin Faulk remains in Raleigh after his call-up on November 17th. After played huge minutes (22:07) against Buffalo, Faulk told the media, “I was playing similar minutes down there (Charlotte), upwards of probably 20 minutes a night. It’s nice when you’re playing like that because you’re getting into a groove, and you’re in it all the time.” Well said Mr. Faulk, well said. The defenseman earned his first NHL point with an assist on November 20th against Toronto.
Brett Sutter is the most recent test subject as he was reassigned to the Canes Monday morning. He has played in 4 games with the Canes and has an assist. Sutter has averaged about 6 minutes a game in Raleigh.
Long, strange trip indeed, especially for the players making tire tracks down and up Route 40. The trip continues tonight as the Canes face the Flyers in Philadelphia. A team who has defeated Carolina twice with relative ease this season.
However, the Hurricanes are coming off a big win against Toronto Sunday night. Eric Staal continues to remind fans of his abilities earning 2 assists in the contest. Staal has 5 points in the past 5 games. Jeff Skinner isn’t skipping a beat his sophomore season. He also had 2 points (1g, 1a) in the 3-2 victorious game against the Leafs. Jay Harrison and Jussi Jokinen also scored for Carolina.
Clinching a win against the pesky Flyers Monday night would feel as good as warm underpants fresh out of the dryer. Let’s Go Canes!