Sunday, April 09, 2006

In Search of Killer Instinct

What's love got to do with it?
Been dying to use this photo all year. Last night was a perfect chance for the 'Canes to put a team that has repeatedly embarrassed them in their place. The perfect chance to dash any legitmate hope the Thrash had for the playoffs with their own hands. Payback for Kovalchuk's taunting and grandstanding. Payback for Holik's cheap shot last game. The chance to demonstrate some killer instinct going into this final run of the season. Time to break their hearts and their necks. Instead we got matadors on ice in the first period.

Yes, they were tired. Yes, the had been on the road all week. Yes, they were without Stillman and Kaberle. Yes, it's been a grind, but isn't that kind of like what the playoffs are going to be like? Justin Williams is quoted in today's N&O saying, "It took us too long to finally get upset with the fact we were getting embarrassed out there..." Ya think?

I still think the thing that could cause the 'Canes to exit early in the playoffs is whimpy play in their defensive zone. You have to win the puck before you can start the breakout. Bless his heart (southern for that son-of-a-bitch), Andy Sutton makes people pay when they try and set up along his endboards. He also does a lot of cheap stuff, but you can't deny his physicality. For the 'Canes, that has to be AWard, Babchuk and Commie. Didn't see it from them last night. The Thrash beat the boys to nearly every puck in the first period-beat them to it with speed and already knowing what they were gonnna do with it once they won it. Come playoff time, the 'Canes can't just count on their opportunistic forechecking and hope Gerber keeps them in the game.

Sometimes our boys don't show a lot of heart or brains in their own zone. Speaking of brains, Eric Staal was a boy of very little brain last night. At times, he reminds me of a younger Joe Thornton. Unbelievable physical skills, vision and presence on the ice, but prone to taking dumb penalties and losing his cool. In his defense, if anybody is feeling the grind right now. It's got to be Staal.He's played all 78 games this year. That has to be wearing on him physically and mentally.

Hurricanes have a few days off before potential first round opponent New Jersey comes to town. The Friday/Saturday back-to-backer vs. the 'Ning next weekend might be the last chance to show that killer instinct before the playoffs. Knocking them off would be sweet-knocking the Thrash out would have been devine.

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