Hard to get handle on Canes

Posted by Chip Alexander on November 23, 2013 

BOSTON -- The Canes are a curious bunch, aren't they?

The Canes couldn't beat the Boston Bruins in Raleigh on Monday but had a good chance at Boston Saturday, losing in overtime.

They haven't been able to score on the power play, but scored Saturday on the power play.

A week ago Saturday, the Canes didn't have a shorthanded goal all season. Four games later, they have four.

It could be that type of season -- some surprises, some frustration, some unexpected plays and victories and a lot of head-scratching. And injuries. There figures to be more injuries.

The Canes played Saturday in Boston under the cloud of a Friday tweet by TSN's Darren Dreger that both Jiri Tlusty and Tuomo Ruutu were being "shopped" by the Canes and available for trades. Just a rumor, but Dreger is well-connected and word quickly passes among the players.

Ruutu goes out Saturday, has five hits and seemingly is in the middle a number of close scoring chances. Tlusty had his stick snapped by Boston’s Zdeno Chara in perhaps the most blatant no-call of the Canes' season. Both played with Eric Staal on the top line.

Of Ruutu, Canes coach Kirk Muller said, "He's getting more opportunities and that's a good sign. He's working hard and as a result he's getting better chances. He's going to the net and that's where the creates a lot of his stuff. He's more involved in the game right now and it's helping us."

Having Cam Ward back and now coming off a strong game should be a help. Having Jeff Skinner back helps.

Elias Lindholm, recalled Friday from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), had some rough moments in the defenzive zone Saturday and was 1-11 on draws. But he was used on the top power-play unit and made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone, then screened Bruins goalie Chad Johnson as Andrej Sekera scored the first-period power play.

Getting the puck out of the Carolina zone at even strength was a game-long problem for the Canes, but Muller said to credit the Bruins.

"We had a lot of pucks going up the boards and they're a bigger, stronger team that we are," Muller said. "We wanted to keep pucks away from there and get more footraces but they came and kept a tight gap. Their D pinched.

"So they played real aggressive. That's their strength and they used it on us. We just had to stay in the game and keep them on the perimeter in our zone until we could get our skating legs going and create some races. But they're a good team. They kept us hemmed in."

When the Canes were called for having too many men on the ice at 10:24 of the third, the Bruins seemed poised to score a third goal and perhaps put the game away.

So what happens? Pat Dwyer knocks the puck free and gets in a footrace that he wins, scoring the shorthanded goal for a 2-2 tie.

Yep, it's a curious bunch.

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