Ron Francis: Hurricanes' Quest for the Cup

Ron Francis, whose jersey was retired by the Hurricanes earlier this year after a 23-year hockey career, will blog exclusively for about the 'Canes bid for the Stanley Cup.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Special Teams! Special Teams! Special Teams!

Sorry again for the delay on posting my thoughts. Read most of your comments and it seems to me y'all had some pretty good observations on the game. Anytime you are up 2-0 in a series and heading into the oppositions building for game 3, you expect them to come out hard and toss all they have at you. NJ did that at the start of the game and was able to take the 1-0 lead. AS the road team it is important in these kind of games to stay patient and wait for some breaks, and the Canes did that. They weathered the storm early and then got a PP. Once again, they were able to score on the PP and that seemed to turn the tide somewhat. Another break came shortly after the goal when NJ turned the puck over in their own end and J Williams was able to take advantage of it. To be up 2-1 at the end of 1 is a good spot to be in as the road team. However, the intermission gave NJ some time to regroup and it showed early in the 2nd when they came out hard and had the Canes on their heels. With the score tied 2-2, the Canes got a great opportunity to take control of the game with the 4 min. PP at the latter part of the period, and once again the PP took full advantage of the chance it was given. A real positive for me is the fact that for, I believe, the third time in the playoffs the Canes went into the 3rd period with a 1 goal lead and were able to protect it. That is huge this time of the year. There is no doubt that in playoff hockey there will be times within the game were the tide seems to be changing and the key in those times is to maintain your focus and simplify your game until you can get a chance to turn it around. There is no question that the Canes are getting some breaks in this series( just look at Staal's goal in Game 2), but the key is to take full advantage when those opportunities present themselves and the Canes are doing that, especially on the special teams. That has been the difference in the series. As for game 4, the extra day will give NJ some time to look at the tape and see what they did that worked and what didn't. The Canes will try not to sit around the hotel for 2 days waiting, but instead try to rest and get ready for the next game knowing that it is important to not let NJ get any momentum. The clinching game is always the hardest to win, especially when your facing a proud franchise like NJ that has had a lot of playoff success in the past. Saturday's game sets up to be a good one.


  • At 5/11/2006 10:28 AM, Blogger Luckey X said…

    Ron--Thanks so much for your comments - I really appreciate it!
    What has really struck me about this series is that most commentators expected NJ to win, even though Carolina has beat them before in the playoffs and had a huge win streak of their own earlier in the season. I think that Montreal played much better and was a much better series and matchup with the Canes. Also, that series got the Canes game going in the right direction. I was worried when they were going into the playoffs since they seemed to be slowing while other teams were peaking, and it seems the Montreal series got them revved up again. I assume that they will be playing Buffalo in the next round and think they have a great chance of winning the whole thing - something I didn't believe just 3 weeks ago.

  • At 5/11/2006 10:39 AM, Blogger Chris said…

    The special teams are definitely the difference in this series. I can't believe how well the Power Play is for us - around 50% in the series? That's simply amazing. No team is going to win a series with a 50% penalty kill.

  • At 5/11/2006 11:48 AM, Blogger E said…

    Have faith lucky,
    Ron made a good point. The 'Canes have the best PP in the playoffs and the Kill ratio is just as good that type of combo with home ice advantage will make the 'Canes triumphant. Let's face facts, or watch Bruce Almighty, the Sabres don't have the hutspa to get to the Cup

  • At 5/11/2006 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Canes did "Whatever It Takes" once again. But the OLN commentators (and ESPN before them) have done everything they can to disparage them. And yet, they keep winning. It's about time this team got the recognition it deserves. We may not always be graceful and elegant in our wins, but the wins keep stacking up. It's long past due that the national media give the Canes the kudos they deserve.

  • At 5/11/2006 12:03 PM, Anonymous janet rudderham said…

    You have a life ?!! The nerve !!Just kiddin',RF ! I confess ,The second period had me just a wee bit nervous. The D's did seem to have a spell that looked a bit dangerous -but not enough for D'fan to come out of his room and gloat !
    I have to tell you that I find the coverage fair -but then , I'm used to the CBC (Don Cherry and all)If you want biased hockey coverage ,tune in ! I'm sure that's why I don't cheer red or blue ! That ,and it's so much more fun to be an instigator !
    Keep it going ,guys -you're all working so well together -good luck on Saturday -finish them off !
    You deserve to have Sunday off !

  • At 5/11/2006 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


  • At 5/11/2006 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lets not even get into the bias of the OLN and NBC commentators. This series, to them, has been about how unlucky the Devils have been and how lucky the Canes have been as opposed to the Canes being the better team for a majority of the series up to this point. Ron touched on something I had forgotten about: the Canes regular season record when leading after 2 periods. The last week and a half, I've felt that everyone has finally gotten comfortable with each other (Weight, Recchi and the return of Big Joe when active) and the team is back to playing the type hockey they were playing prior to Erik's injury. Wardo has been a huge part of that return. Lets hope they keep it going.

  • At 5/11/2006 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ever since the playoffs began, the Canes really seem to have a spark out there on the ice. Last's night game was no exception. The Devils would get -maybe- one shot off before the Canes got the puck and moved it out of the zone. The smooth transitions kept the pace fast. I swear that near the end of the 3rd period, the Devils seemed confused. Each time they would try to break out, a Cane would be there in the way. With no one to pass to, and no one able to skate the puck, the Devils were optionless. If the Canes continue playing like they have been - with all that calm energy - then there is no stopping them! They just need to stay out of the penalty box!

  • At 5/11/2006 12:43 PM, Blogger fastmari said…

    Let's begin to demand the sort of local broadcast coverage and promotion that will suggest to the rest of the country that the Canes are worthy of notice, eh? And for this radio broadcast that the poor schmucks without cable in the woods and who can't afford dirctv for a year just to watch a few months of hockey, well, can't we get a boost on their signal so that we can actually figure out what the commentator is saying? Really, guys, if we are trying to broaden the fan base to bring down the ticket prices and up the revenue, can't we get a commentator who can speak normal English without all the insider game terminology and hockey-ese? It's impossible to tell what's going on, listening to all that is said between the faceoff and "SCOOOOORRRRRE". you'd never know that Raleigh has a national sports team about to win an international championship. Where are all the free tickets, the parades, the parties inviting the public, the bulletin boards networking etc? We talk it up all we can at church, he does at work, but there's gotta be more we can do to pump it up. Go Canes

  • At 5/11/2006 1:08 PM, Blogger Stormbringer said…

    To quoteth the great John Forslund: "Hey hey, what do you say?!". The Canes are in a fantastic position now AND have the Devils right where they want 'em.

    I totally agree that the Canes are getting breaks...I know some of my Caniac brethren may be tempted to smack me for saying this: IMHO, there is absolutely no way you can say a 3-0 team is not getting breaks. And I say that because come playoff time, no team should be underestimated, regardless of their seed. Heck, just ask the top four teams in the Western Conference...or even the Canes in a way, with how Montreal fought like they did in the First Round. And the Canes have shown that from that, they've learned that no team should be taken a matter of fact, I think that has played a great role in the Canes/Devils series overall.

    But all of that said, the Canes certainly have a fair share of skill on their side too. The power plays? Insane...the PP has never been 50% good throughout the regular season. As Chris pointed out, no team, not even the highly worshipped Devils (OLN is *really* reaching AND scraping the bottom of the barrel with all of their constant AND especially unnecessary praise towards Joysey...I knew they weren't exactly fond of the Canes and/or "small market"/Southern teams, but c'mon!!*) stand a chance versus a 50% power play. Again, that's just insane.

    * - Speaking of heavilly biased coverage, I cannot believe nobody has mentioned how Barry Melrose, who has actually declared himself a Canes bandwagoner this season/playoffs (yeah, I know...I'm still recovering from the shock myself), even said last night that Brodeur was letting in "uncharacteristic goals". *rolls her eyes* Then again, I realize that I am talking about Barry Melrose AND ESPN (who, really, are no different from OLN), so I'll shut up. :D

  • At 5/11/2006 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to say, the commentating isn't so great, but the wins in spite of the comments make it okay with me! Let the Canes fly under the radar. Sometimes that's better than too much positive hype. The one comment last night that WAS on target (and I don't know who said it), was that some of the Devils played excellent individual games, but the Hurricanes played an excellent TEAM game. That's what keeps them moving forward in these playoffs -- it doesn't seem to matter who is on the ice and in what line combination. I like what I see. I've liked it all year!

  • At 5/11/2006 2:30 PM, Blogger sluihn said…

    Thanks for your comments Ron! I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Our special teams are making ALL the difference right now. You can just tell the Canes want it a bit more than the Devils I think. I agree with others, the commentators on the network stations are horrible! Where's Forslund and Tracy when you need them? I ALWAYS enjoy watching Ray Whitney's antics in the pre-game interview though! Win or lose, those are worth watching!

  • At 5/11/2006 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Ron, are you typing y'all just to fit in, or has
    the south rubbed off on you? =) I don't think they say that up in the Soo!

    Love the blog, it's better than mine (and I bet more people read it too!)

    P.S. - Ever been on the Agawa Canyon Train Tour back home? Did that with my dad once and loved it. Beautiful country up there!

    The Caniac

  • At 5/11/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger rmmeli said…

    Stormbringer, I did mention Barry Melrose on a previous post. I don't watch ESPN so I had no idea he was still on there AND he has kind words to say about the Canes. Wow! Next thing you will say that he predicted all along that the Canes would take a 3-0 lead against the Devils. I find the OLN commentators pretty manic - they spend most of the time just talking between themselves about some hockey topic that gets interrupted occassionally by something happening on the ice. Contrast that with the "bonus" coverage when they switch over to Canadian commentators. The difference is night and day.

  • At 5/11/2006 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Canzlvr here...They commentators / analysts can talk all the trash they want about the Canes...all that counts are the numbers in the W in cloumn...Even Ronnie's comment are cautious at best...

    Yeah they have had the breaks, but you make your own 'luck' out there on the only reap what you sow

    Williams and Cullens goals had Broduer beat fair and square..there was nothing lucky about those goals..

    The Devils are down but not out yet...however the Canes will prevail and win the series

  • At 5/11/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please don't take this the wrong way -- it would be great if the Canes swept NJ in 4 -- but I really hope the series goes to 5 so we can see and hear John and Tripp again. This is the one place I want some "spin" on my coverage! GO CANES!

  • At 5/11/2006 5:24 PM, Anonymous Subway Scoundrel said…

    Good post as usual. I liked the way they played game 3 except the 2nd period. It looked like the Devils finally figured it out, but then the canes came back with a goal to keep them guessing. I do think the devils will win one game.

  • At 5/11/2006 6:08 PM, Blogger Scott said…

    I like your breakdown of each game Ron...I agree with just about everyone that has posted a comment before me. I just love the momentum that has built up for this team right now. Even when NJ posts an early lead, the Canes respond, time and time again. I really think that Carolina is hitting their stride. As a fan, I've started to develop a worry free attitude and I almost expect them to win each night that they step on the ice. I really hope they can keep this amazing ride going and I'm also pulling for Buffalo in their series...I'd love to have home-ice advantage the rest of the way.

  • At 5/11/2006 7:01 PM, Anonymous Puck Bard said…

    Like past greats in victory's shower
    Dryden, Sawchuk, Johnny Bower
    Behold the new champ, in his red sweater
    Brodeur's good, but Cam Ward's better

    Winning is a fleeting mistress
    She favors some, leaves others distressed
    Squeeze too tight you'll soon regret her
    Brodeur's good, but Cam Ward's better

    Cam the man, loose and ready
    Nerves of steel, moves like spaghetti
    In his crease Marty looks fettered
    Brodeur's good, but Cam Ward's better

    A lexicon of hockey truths
    Hurricane "H" for hockey virtue
    The Devil "D"s a scarlet letter
    Brodeur's good, but Cam Ward's better

    Playoff time fills fans with glee
    We watch our team win happily
    Like a daytime double-header
    Brodeur's good, but Cam Ward's better

    A two-man team hath no depth
    Jersey Devils look inept
    Elias, Gomez; cherry-pickers
    Brodeur's good but Cam Ward's better

    Now a game-four prophesy
    In the third Canes take the lead,
    Watch Whitney bag the empty netter
    Brodeur's good, but Cam Ward's better

  • At 5/11/2006 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    CAM WARD IS THE MAN...goodness gravy he's awesome! I feel so blessed for this team to have him!

  • At 5/11/2006 10:40 PM, Blogger Stormbringer said…

    Stormbringer, I did mention Barry Melrose on a previous post. I don't watch ESPN so I had no idea he was still on there AND he has kind words to say about the Canes. Wow! Next thing you will say that he predicted all along that the Canes would take a 3-0 lead against the Devils. I find the OLN commentators pretty manic - they spend most of the time just talking between themselves about some hockey topic that gets interrupted occassionally by something happening on the ice. Contrast that with the "bonus" coverage when they switch over to Canadian commentators. The difference is night and day.

    Oooooh...I somehow missed that comment. My bad. *blushes*

    But yes, as I too somewhat noted, Barry has overall been quite complimentary to the Canes this season/playoffs. But, I found it interesting how on ESPNews after Game Three, he didn't say a whole lot about Game Three itself. Just that the Devils had some bad breaks AND, I am actually quoting Barry here, "the Devils are still in this series". Regarding the latter, I think the dude at the very end of this sentence says it all: o_O

    So, even though the magic has rubbed off onto Barry this season, there's still a little more work to be done with the man, as last night proved. ;)

    All that said, watch Barry say he predicted the Canes to go 3-0/4-0 in the series, as you said Rmmeli. Certainly wouldn't put it past him to get away with that.

    And seriously about OLN vs. the Canadian coverage...I've already lost count of how many times I think and/or utter out loud "YES!!" or "Thank you!!" when OLN switches to the "bonus coverage". Too bad we don't have any "bonus coverage" for the Canes/Devils that regard, one of the Annonys may be right on in why it wouldn't hurt to want a Game Five with the John and Tripp Show. Not that there's anything wrong with *really* wanting to sweep up the swamp mess...I've certainly got my broom ready. ;)

  • At 5/12/2006 7:38 AM, Blogger rmmeli said…

    I would be happy for their to be a Game 5...not to watch John and Tripp as we will be at the game but because it is my son's birthday on Sunday and what would be a better present than the Canes winning and getting through to the Eastern Conference finals! But we will take a win on Saturday instead.

  • At 5/12/2006 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Keep your brooms in the closet - it's not over yet. 'Canes fans are guys come out of the woodwork when you're winning, the flags are up on your cars, and the pity-party about the "spin" on broadcasting is amusing. And then, when you guys are losing, the talk stops, the flags disappear and the bandwagon is (almost) empty again. In all fairness, I do believe there are some true Hurricanes fans that love the game itself, and have been proud of their Carolina team since it's conception. But these "new" fans have to realize that one who lives in Carolina, does not have to be a Carolina fan. As for the Hurricanes themselves, good for them for getting this far. There's no doubt that you have some good runs and some stong, talented players. I was watching the "Great Legends in Hockey" and someone had said something like, "Lucky guys win hockey games and the good players lose, so I'd rather be lucky than good". Let's see how this series shakes out before those lucky brooms come out of the closet.

  • At 5/12/2006 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It was great when the OLN commentator mentioned how it was "Un-Characteristic" of Brodeur to let in our first goal of the night, THEN 10 seconds or so afterward we got goal number two.

    I turned to my wife and said "How Un-Characteristic!" (sic)

  • At 5/12/2006 10:36 AM, Blogger DrFrankLives said…

    PRevious comment brought to you by an anonymous Triangle RedWings fan with nothing to do this spring...

  • At 5/12/2006 1:53 PM, Anonymous devils hockey lover said…

    Ron Francis is a true hockey legendary who is easy to admire no matter who's team you cheer for. I'm a NJ Devils fan and always have been (even dating back to their farm team in Utica). There's no question that I love my Jersey boys, but I will say that the Hurricanes are giving them a push to play better, to play the game that I know the Devils are capable of. I'm very proud of my NJ team and the regular season they ended with. With a coach having to step aside mid-season (I'll always admire and respect Larry), and with trailing the Flyers by 18 points, they fought hard, re-grouped according to the new rules, and were able to win our division. That in itself is pretty impressive as a hockey club. I love 'em and I'm proud of 'em. And you Hurricanes fans do have something to be proud of too. Your 'Canes have been very impressive this year and I am happy to see Cam Ward able to show off his natural born talent. He's a young Brodeur in my opinion. If the 'Canes win, then great for them. You know I've still got to hope for my boys from East Rutherford though. And, God am I glad that hockey is back! I will say that I do agree somewhat with the other NJ fan. The 'Canes fans can be pretty nasty themselves and you can always pick out a true hockey fan to one of those that has jumped into the role of 'instant fan' now that the Hurricanes have come this far. I'll always miss the great Scott Stevens, and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Devils have many more Cups that they will win. I do enjoy reading Ron Francis' take on the games played. He is a true hockey spirit with the utmost integrity. Hope to see you Hurricanes on the ice well past tomorrow's game, and kudos to my NJ Devils for the remarkable finish (no matter what the outcome!)

  • At 5/12/2006 6:31 PM, Blogger 26rocks said…

    As I recall Continental Arena wasn't quite full for game 3 and reading the New Jersey rag's comments, Devils fans were starting to disappear from sight.. So what are you saying here?

    And lucky goals.. I would classify the game 2 NJ goal with 20 seconds left as lucky as they get. The 'Canes are just outplaying the other teams. The only period I would give to NJ was was Game 3, period 1. And even then only 1 goal made it in.

    Lets face it.. the 'Canes have put a tremendous group on the ice this year, have a terrific coach and a growing group of appreciative fans.

  • At 5/12/2006 8:12 PM, Blogger Bobbert said…

    Hey, NJ is a great team. They've shown it over and over again. That's why I'm giving them Game 4. We'll win it all at Home on Sunday... Happy Mother's Day! Take Mom to the game. GO CANES!

  • At 5/13/2006 1:54 AM, Blogger canesguy said…

    Nobody would love more than I to watch the Canes win the series at the RBC on Sunday. HOWEVER, New Jersey is too good a team to let them back in at all - we need to keep the foot on the pedal, keep playing OUR game and win Game 4 on Saturday. (Especially since the OLN commentators - big surprise - were unanimous tonight that the Devils would definitely win this one.) My broom is ready. GO CANES!

  • At 5/14/2006 12:07 AM, Blogger fastmari said…

    Well, friends, that was hockey and what a treat to actually be able to see the game!
    Seriously, if anyone is able to be charitable to an arthritis-disabled Mom, with no disability income, I'm still hoping someone will tell us they have 2 tickets for us, for the Mother's Day Game cuz I'd really love to be at that game with my husband, even if we can't buy tickets ourselves.
    Congrats to all who kept playing hockey without any extraneous action on that ice, despite what appeared to be some tension, heat, exasperation and super-man effort to skate their brains off out there for the Canes. It was all true championsmanship and appreciated to have every bit of energy and focus going to the game and nothing personal. Just hockey, strong, fast and proud. I was all that proud of the Canes tonite, and rivetted to the screen. Now, why can't we get that game broadcast here? It's really silly business wise to be passing up the pivotal point of the season, and at championship level play, to keep the non-hockey and un-hockeyed public in the dark to this fantastic action, while we could be building fan-base with some freebie broadcasts, especially when you know they can only sell so many seats....why aren't we banging on the ice to get the pennypinchers to get dollar-wise on can't buy this kind of advertising; it's only available for real, now, and it's on tomorrow at 7 pm Raleigh, NC....We have it right here, and all "they" have to do is get those cameras in there and sweep some channel of a cooking show, or that Poker game they planned to run since the racers are all going home to Mamma for the day, and PUT ON THE HOCKEY GAME!
    The motto we saw for a couple years was, "you'll know when you go", which is the point, to actually SEE the GAME! Now, we have all of the Southeast, everyone in driving distance of RBC center ice could potentially be ticket buyers after seeing championship ice hockey tomorrow right on tv while eating banana puddin and pig pickin. Are there any tv execs out there who can make an executive decision and put their station on the map?
    And if no one still can get me tickets for the game tomorrow night, and I have to listen to Kaison on the radio, I'll still be really glad to be praying for, cheering for, and proud of the Carolina Hurricanes. Go Canes!

  • At 5/14/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger fastmari said…

    Doesn't look much like tailgatin weather, with this nickel size hail falling on the back deck...all the chickens and turkeys are "duckin' for cover", which I hope is what NJ'll be doin' after gettin slammed on the scoreboard in a few hours.

    Speaking of a few hours, I can definitely make it to the RBC, if someone is trying to find me, so that they don't have to feel bad about those tickets they don't have anyone to sit in yet. I've been resting, so that I can walk pretty good today, and can definitely make it to that seat, any seat, at the Mother's Day game.

    Here's the deal....I pledge a month's worth of fresh, sweet goat's milk, at 2 gallons a week, deliverred within a 20 mile radius of my house, to anyone seatting me and my husband at that game tonight with legitimate tickets. I'll throw in a dozen free-range, organic chicken eggs a week also for that month and a few pounds of fresh-made caprine Ricotta cheese or Mozzarella cheese per your fancy.

    Email us at or call at 919-554-2106, really want to get us to that game. Mountain Spirit Oberhasli Caprine Dairy, Zebulon, has been producing it's own home-consumption fresh milk for 11 yrs, from our own herd on Wake County's smallest registered farm at 3.3 acres. Anyone into their health knows how many nutrition products today are produced from goat's milk and goat's milk whey that is the liquid byproduct of cheesemaking, full of life-essential enzymes, vitamins and trace minerals so lacking from our grocery store foods that are over-processed, as is the land that our grains and commercial beef, poultry and pork is produced from.
    I'd love to give the Canes a healthful, energizing cold tall glass of goat's milk before the game, to get those B vitamins running in their blood tonight.

    Time to get the radio warmed up for the game. Has anyone else ran into the problem of being refused for Time Warner Cable (TWC) as your house is set back from the roads more than they want to run cable to? For what TWC wants a month, and at a minimum of a year's service, seems unreasonable to deny anyone cable just because they'd have to ditchwitch a few hundred feet.

    Hope to be toasting our local heroes tonight with a tall cold glass of milk.....Go Canes !

  • At 5/14/2006 6:18 PM, Blogger fastmari said…

    Eh, did anyone else notice how on the 102.9 Hurricanes radio broadcast of the game before yesterday's, that 3-2 Canes win;
    how it seemed like the final period slide to the finish just went on like nothing was happening? Kinda like just going into commercial; not as if YIPPEE; WE WON AGAIN, YAYYY, YAAAHOOO, nothing, the commentators just went on talking like nothing big...
    I like the enthusiasm of that Kaison, he has some Canes knowledge to impart and can be quite enthusiastic, but the way that last period went, on air, it was as if there was something else going on that was concerning them that they weren't sharing. I'd expect that the official Hurricanes radio broadcast would feel free to be officially wild about a Canes win, just as I expect we will all be wild tonight about a Canes win, again.

    Anyone who has tickets they need to ease their conscience for not having anyone to give them to, or if you can't go, I really would like to go with my husband tonight and you can check on my blog link and phone, to consider my offer of organic eggs and goat's milk for a month in exchange for tickets. worth a try, eh? Go GO CANES !!!!!


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