"Grit" is overused in the world today, and should really only be used in the plural form, at a breakfast table. "Sandpaper" was used a lot at the beginning of this Carolina Hurricanes season, but that is not what last night's win over the Anaheim Ducks had an abundance of. No the win last night was "gutsy."
From start to finish, the Canes played a gutsy game after a four day break. Plenty of teams would have taken a period to warm-up, hit the gas in the 2nd. If possible they would have feathered the props and coasted in for a smooth landing. But not the Carolina Hurricanes, and not the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Though the Ducks worked their way back to tie the game at 3, by that point Carolina had found their game, and it were ready to pour on the steam.
Given the nature of the game, as Anaheim embarrassed the Hurricanes earlier in the season in Anaheim, it is clear to see the Canes has something of a chip on their shoulder, which had to steel their guts just a little bit more. Certainly the rest to get dents and dings healthy but did nothing to cool the fire in the bellies of the Hurricanes.
Playing in his 600th NHL game, Jordan Martinook showed his guts by netting just his 3rd goal of the season in the 2nd period making the score 3-1. After a career season last year, Martinook's production has slowed, but his energy and intensity have not wavered. With an average ice time of 14:51 per night, Martinook is sneakily showing his place on the team is not in the spotlight, but there just the same. While Seth Jarvis made his case for the first star, I'm giving a gutsy Jordan Martinook my 2nd Star of the game.
That intensity away from the puck, was laid evident last night as Martinook, and line mate Jordan Staal steeped in on Anaheim's Defenseman Robery Hagg in the 2nd period. Hagg had been tangling with Seth Jarvis and in the sequence leading to the dust up, tripped Jarvis. Answering with a shoulder, Jarvis was knocked to the ground, which prompted Martinook and Staal to come to the aid. Not to be left out, Jarvis hopped in to the scrum, and things finally separated enough for Haag to serve time for both roughing and tripping.
But the gutsy play did not end there.
After some extra curricular boarding of Jack Drury by Anaheim Center Sam Carrick, Hurricanes defenseman Brandon Lemieux decided he'd seen enough and dropped the gloves. I am not typically a fan of fighting in hockey, but I recognize it's place in the game. This was the time and place to settle the issue with Carrick.
Things had been chippy between Carrick and Drury all night. Making matters worse, the game had been had been getting a little loose between both teams. Even Hurricanes goalie Pyotr Kochetkov got in on the action picking up a tripping penalty before being knocked out of the game. But what was particularly gutsy about the dust up between Carrick and Lemieux was Lemieux was stepping in for Drury. Lemieux was brought in at the beginning of the season for just this type of situation.
If you will remember, twice this season it's been Jack Drury answering the bell for Carolina, and at least one of those would have been better handled by Brandon Lemeiux who was in the line-up that night. None the less it was Lemieux chance to repay the favor for Drury. And the defensemen handled himself well by landing several solid rights to Carrick before Lemeiux had his feet come out from under him causing a slip on the ice.
Carolina could have come out tepidly against the Ducks last night, and even with revenge on their minds played enough to beat the brakes off the team from Anaheim. At 14-25-1 coming into Raleigh, it was not like Anaheim posed a threat to the Hurricanes who are coming off the second best December in the league. Still the Hurricanes woke up, shook off the cobwebs, and chose to play gutsy hockey.