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17 September 2007

Canes Exhibition Game 1

So far, so good.
I won't do a play-by-play analysis of the game, but just mention a few that stood out to me.

Noah Babin who will be playing in Albany for the Canes looked great out there. Tallying the first goal and handling the puck really well may just get him his ticket to come to Carolina should one of our defensemen go out of commission.

Erik Cole seemed to return to pre-neck injury form. He was flying around that ice and throwing himself around all 22 minutes of his ice time. There was one scary moment for him when a hard hit on one of the Caps left the player laying on the ice for a minute and you could see Cole was afraid he had seriously injured the guy as he bent down to wait with him until someone could come help him off the ice. Erik was called for boarding on that play.

The other highlight of the night was netminder Michael Leighton, who we acquired during the offseason. He relieved John Grahame halfway through the 2nd period and stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced. (The one goal he did let in went through the 5-hole)
Although he mostly made routine saves, there were a few that were quite spectacular and before long, Leighton had the arena cheering every time he touched that puck. I am not sure if Grahame really is being challenged for the #2 spot, but if it counts for anything the fans (and the players for that matter) seem to be a LOT more confident in Leighton.

I must say that the Canes need to make it a habit to get AHEAD to begin the game, not be the come-back masters that they were last year. Going into the 3rd down 2-0 was quite nerve wracking but I am glad that Babin, Cole, and Williams could get the puck to the back of the net. The game was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation and (thank god!) Erik Cole tipped in a puck sent towards the net by Staal with 47 seconds left in OT.
Canes win 4-3!
Three stars (As per the scoresheet) 1. Erik Cole (2 goals; gwg) 2. Michael Leighton (15/16 stopped) 3. Ryan Bayda (1 assist)

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