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 WRAL.com about the 'Canes bid for the Stanley Cup.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

We're Still Okay

Wow, I didn't see that coming. After the first two games in Raleigh, I felt the Canes were pretty much in control of this series, having dominated 5 of the first 6 periods. Tonight kind of reminded me a little of game 1, where the Canes played well in periods 1 and 3 but not in
period 2. Buffalo's dominance in period two, which was helped by the numerous penalties the Canes took, turned out to be the difference in the hockey game. Carolina, however, should gain a lot of confidence by the fact that they were able to come back and almost tie the game up. The focus now shifts squarely on game 4. The Canes needed only to win one game in Buffalo and still have that opportunity on Friday night, where as Buffalo needed to win both games in order to maintain home ice advantage in the series. The Canes need to stay out of the penalty box and avoid a lull like they had in period 2 tonight and they will be fine. I think we are still okay.

34 Comments:

  • At 5/24/2006 11:04 PM, Blogger nchurricane1 said…

    I had to listen to much of the game on the radio because of work and it sounded like problems on both sides with the officiating. I thought the playoffs had the best refs... whats up? I did see the last 7 minutes on TV and the Canes looked very good..much like Game 2. Like you Ron, I don't feel too concerned and think game 4 will be theres.

     
  • At 5/24/2006 11:14 PM, Blogger iBm said…

    Wow is right - what a game. Once Stall got that 3rd goal I was hoping for another 20 second miracle to tie the game. Give the Canes credit - they didn't give up.

    Is it just me, or did all the calls seem to go Buffalo's way? Too much time in the box I agree but I felt like the Canes got the brunt of the calls.

    I agree we are still okay - if we can take the win on their ice on Friday the confidence will only grow and get them closer to the finals.

    Although Cam did a good job - the call of the change probably added in a shift. We love Gerber and we love Ward. We need to have two strong goalies. Although some may not agree that Cam did a good job because of the 4-3 score (if) you watched he made some great saves and was being peppered pretty hard. Gerber came in and did outstanding holding the count without any additional shots on goal.

    As you stated "We're Still Okay"

     
  • At 5/24/2006 11:20 PM, Blogger SFC Ken said…

    I loved the fact we scored 1st and took that away from them.

    Looked like the defense struggled tonight, with 2 breakaway scoring chances on Gerber. Great saves from him, especially since he hasn't played since game 4 of the Devils series.

    Was it me, or did it seem like both teams were moving in slow motion. Just tapping the puck into the offensive zone then not going after it. Just looked really strange to me tonight.

    I know one thing, the intensity wasn't there like it was the last game, but, the Canes proved to the the Sabres that we can't be taken lightly either. We had a lot of chances in the last minute, but Miller and the Sabres did an excellent job of blocking shots and plugging holes in the shooting lanes.

    Saturday is gonna be another great game.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 12:17 AM, Blogger canesguy said…

    I felt so good when we got that 1st goal. I really thought we were going to take that lead into the intermission only to have another *#!*%* penalty let Buffalo score at the end of the period. The 2nd, we can all agree, was an unmitigated disaster. We simply must not play like that. Yes, the refs didn't help us, but that is no excuse for us to lose focus and be so undisciplined.
    The 3rd was so much better, but we had dug ourselves too deep a hole and unfortunately we can't count on a last second miracle time after time.
    I was very depressed after the game. Reading your comments makes me feel better, Ron. There is a lot to build on from the 3rd period. We know we can do it - we have shown we can do it - Friday we WILL do it. Play our game with discipline, discipline, discipline. GO CANES!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 12:32 AM, Anonymous SabresFan said…

    I'm a Sabres fan and am obviously very happy with the result tonight.

    I'm reading a lot of Carolina fans who aren't concerned but I think they need to be. There were parts of the Ottawa series where the Sabres were thoroughly outplayed and Ottawa fans/players/coaches were saying a lot of the same things. The Sabres took them in 5.

    Friday is a huge game for Carolina (and Buffalo, obviously). If the Sabres take that game then you guys are in serious trouble. The pressure on Ward (or Gerber) will continue to grow. I think a big difference in this series is the goaltending and I give Miller and the Sabres the edge.

    The Sabres have had a tremendous year. They really are a team without superstars and it's been really interesting to watch as different guys have stepped up at crucial points. It's a really likeable group because everyone plays together and they've consistently found ways to win when the pressure is on and their backs are to the wall and event when they get outplayed. That's why I think Carolina fans need to be careful about being comfortable with outplaying the Sabres but losing. The Sabres have been doing this all year and hopefully can get a few more. One thing that is a growing concern is the injuries, especially on defense.

    You guys do have an exciting team, though. Ottawa was pretty scary and you guys are not fun to play against either.

    Whoever wins - it's great hockey to watch and all of Buffalo is really excited and behind the team.

    Good luck.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 7:35 AM, Blogger Rick said…

    Interestingly, Ron, you don't even mention the "officiating"?! Agreed the Canes must stay outta da box, but gee whiz, that's tuff to do when the zebras are focusing completely on the 5 Canes and calling even the slightest hint of an infraction!! Sure most of what was called on the Canes was "technically" a penalty; however, the same stuff was being done by the Sabres! All we ask is that it be a level playing field! Call it the same on both ends, for both teams! Example, when Staal was going in for a scoring chance, got crashed into the goal and Miller literally slugged him in the head! If you look, the official is right there, right behind the net! No call. I agree with you, Ron, that the Canes are "okay" but I'm not sure about the officiating!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Bobbert said…

    Seemed to me that it all revolved around penalties -- the Canes getting them, and the Sabres capitalizing on them. The Canes need to be better on the PK or this series will be over sooner than later. GO CANES!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 8:05 AM, Blogger rmmeli said…

    To me the Canes seemed to not want to play from the start with the same level of intensity that they had in Game 2. You could see it from the way they let the Sabres skate across the blue line and take shots. It was only a matter of time before the goals starting flowing. The penalties were a consequence of a lack of intensity to play hard and the Canes were on the back foot most of the time. I think just like in Game 2, the score flattered the losing team. Gerber looked good coming in - he wants he spot back. If the Canes play the same on Friday we will be in a deep hole come Sunday.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 8:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    well, the common denominator that is starting to show up for the canes is 60 minutes. when the canes play hard, play their game, they are the better team. when they stop playing, they are not. for 2 games they have decided to not play their game for the 2nd period. those 2 periods have cost the canes 2 games. play 60 minutes, we win. seems as easy as that (although i know it is much more complex really). rod, glen, and peter will make this clear, and we will go back to raleigh with home ice.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 8:49 AM, Anonymous janet rudderham said…

    Period 2 -take 2 -I wish ! Funny how it's so much fun when it's our team shutting down their attack -and just maddening as all get out when they do it to us ! OK ,they've had their fun ,our boys looked real good the last half of the third -I love Staal !
    They need to get their game going, and stay out of the box ! The Sabres should just slow down ,relax and stop taking this so seriously -light up the barbie ,have a brew (or 10) ,enjoy the few days before the mosquitoes come out -and they themselves hit the links !! It's just one game ,guys - The Canes Will Prevail ! I'm hangin' in with yas ! (CB for y'all )Til Friday -the Cdn. Con.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 8:54 AM, Blogger YYZman said…

    A little consistancy please...
    Ron...What do you know about Mark Geonette?? I don't understand why he haunts us but he seems to focus his calls on a one sided basis. I witnessed this game after game this season. Being a Canes fan I can only hope that Gary Bettman who was at the game last night saw the inconsistancy that I did. I hope he can address this so we'll see some different approaches with the officials Friday.
    Thumbs up for Cam Ward's play as I thought he really played well. I believe he only missed one for being out of position-Brier breakaway snap wrister caught him a little flat footed. Great job by Gerber stone walling the 2 breaks late also. The 2nd period seems to be the real estate both teams need to win...Friday is our game as the Canes will show the late composure they have had all season. The breaks we need is to maintain our discipline and hope the refs call it square. Brind'Amour for Conn Smythe!!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:03 AM, Blogger Razor in the Buff said…

    "We're still Ok?" - nothing could be further from the truth. The Canes are rolling down hill like a snowball headed for H E double hockey sticks! GO SABRES!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:05 AM, Blogger linda schlachter said…

    hey ronnie, i think you're right . the canes did a good job in the first and 3rd periods. but then in the second they let their guard down and the sabres took the game away. but i believe our guys can do this, i see the potential there,they just need to focus more on what is important. i do think they can take this team, if they play like they did on mon. night. i know it's tough, but that team with brind'amour,stall,corey ray and justin can bring home what it takes!! these sabre's are too cockie and what their coach said about carolina was not nice, i wonder if all people up there are like that!! do they won't to win,so badly that they forget this is a sport. the officals were definely on the sabre's side last night.they should call these things evenly and don't seem to do that!! thanks ron and go canes!! we still love you and believe in you!!!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We CAN'T continue to play only 2 periods per game and expect to win. The second period was a lack of focus, discipline and a few other words you want to throw in! We were able to refocus the last couple of minutes in the second period and the third period we were playing the hockey that we are known for. You can't get 3 goals down to a good team and expect to pull it out, even though we almost did. It seemed to me that the officiating wasn't called even on both teams, more toward Buffalo's side, oh well, we can't use that for an excuse, must overcome that too. The Sabres were more physical in this game but we should have realized that they would be and adjusted quicker. We need to win the next game and the way to do that is to play our game for THREE periods. I have confidence in OUR team.
    GO CANES!!!!!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:16 AM, Blogger Mike said…

    I'm in agreement with y'all; no big concerns on last night's game; matter of fact, I'm sure the Sabres thought it was gonna be a cakewalk when they were up 4-1; it speaks well of the Canes that they didn't give up and took it to them in the last frame; I really feel that they will come out of the gate running hard on Friday night; Game 2 is a prime example; after losing Game 1; the Canes roared in Game 2. What the boys really need to do is kick it up a notch particularily in the second period; they've got the first and third periods under control. The last 10 minutes of the third last night I fully believe set the stage for how the Canes are going to come out on Friday; strong, determined and ready to kick some you-know-what!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Last night proves that this series is really up for grabs. As has been mentioned many times already, I think if the Canes can play 60 minutes of our game we can take it. Buff has shown though that if we only play 58 or 59, then they can quickly put the game out of range. I was extremely impressed with the heart the Canes showed in the third period, but you have to take into account the type of game the Sabres were playing at that time. Up three goals they were just playing "prevent" defense. Bend don't break and if you get a chance to counter attack go for. It should be pointed out that at one point in the 3rd period, the Canes were on the Power Play and Buff was down to only 3 regular defensemen ( 1 in the box, two hurt) and we could not capitalize. These two teams are very well matched and I can easily see this going 7.

    Watching these playoffs, and especially this series, with Buffalo's apparent "rope-a-dope" defense then quick strike break out, it's very evident what we lost when Erik Cole went down. During the season you would see Coley streaking down the wing and cutting back in front of the goal for more times than not a goal or a penalty, at least once a game. That type of break away has been few and far between for the Canes as of late, and against a team like Buffalo, not having that weapon could be the difference.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:25 AM, Blogger 26rocks said…

    I love hockey.. but if the NHL can't get their refs to call a consistant game, I'm going to quit going to the games.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    great game, very fast, hats off to the canes for their never quit mentality, thought the officiating was a little lopsided. i still feel very confident and proud of the canes. go canes

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not only did we get all the penalty calls, we also were on the bad side of the non-calls. The first Buffalo goal was the result of a blatant illegal pick on Chad Larose that opened up a shooting lane you could drive a Mack truck through. It was so blatant that the Buffalo player held up his arms in a lame attempt to get a no-call (which apparently worked).

    Buffalo's second goal was on a power play that should have, at worst, been 4 on 4. The interference call on Weight was marginal, but the elbow to Commodore's face at the same time was pretty obvious.

    But hey, we're used to playing against the opposing team and the refs. We've done it all year, and still have managed to be successful. So let's look forward to taking game 4, whether the refs are against us or not!!!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not only did we get all the penalty calls, we also were on the bad side of the non-calls. The first Buffalo goal was the result of a blatant illegal pick on Chad Larose that opened up a shooting lane you could drive a Mack truck through. It was so blatant that the Buffalo player held up his arms in a lame attempt to get a no-call (which apparently worked).

    Buffalo's second goal was on a power play that should have, at worst, been 4 on 4. The interference call on Weight was marginal, but the elbow to Commodore's face at the same time was pretty obvious.

    But hey, we're used to playing against the opposing team and the refs. We've done it all year, and still have managed to be successful. So let's look forward to taking game 4, whether the refs are against us or not!!!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WE MUST WIN GAME 4!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We need to quit worrying about the refs. As a lifelong NC State fan, I know what it's like to play against the opposing team and the refs. In the end, it does no good. We've gotta go out and play OUR game - CANES HOCKEY! We need to remain consistent and keep our composure. I'm no hockey expert by any means, but it looked like we were rattled during the 2nd period. We regrouped for the 3rd, and came out with both guns blazing. Let's carry that over to our game tomorrow, and bring this puppy home tied up 2-2! I'm with you Ronnie Franchise - we're still OK!!!!

    Go Canes! Go Pack!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 10:52 AM, Blogger canesin6 said…

    Wow...a classy statement from the 1st Sabres fan here showing sportsmanship, and just when you think all Buffalo fans aren't dirtbags, we get a dumb post from this 2nd Sabres fan. I went to school in western NY (Geneseo) and it's not surprising to read about Buffalo fans getting arrested down here and acting like fools in the arena - it's half the reason I moved 5 states away. Sick of the belly aching about Buffalo's sports teams. Just like when my Cowboys CRUSHED their 2nd rate Bills team. Canes in 6 - keep the faith kiddies !

     
  • At 5/25/2006 10:53 AM, Blogger rmmeli said…

    Referees make mistakes just like we all do. The Sabres were the better team last night - they physically intimidated the Canes and it worked. We will see which Canes team turns up on Friday. The one last night will lose again, the one that turned up on Monday will win.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Stormbringer said…

    Razor In the Buff said:

    "We're still Ok?" - nothing could be further from the truth. The Canes are rolling down hill like a snowball headed for H E double hockey sticks! GO SABRES!

    Oooooooh...I'm shakin' in my skates, nekkid boy/girl. BTW, that razor's gotta hurt...


    Yeah, I couldn't resist. Movin' on...

    I've tried my very best to not talk about the zebras in your blog thus far, Mr. Francis. But, I cannot hold my silence any longer...the refs are *really* starting to get on my nerves in this series. I cannot deny that the Canes *do* take stupid penalties here and there. BUT, it seems like that for every blatant penalty the Canes commit, there are one or two Cane penalties that I just don't see happening. And this seems to have been the trend since at least Game Two (*cough*the Sabre 5-on-3 in the 3rd period*cough*).

    Anyway, there was a glimmer of hope last night...namely in the form of Gerber taking Wardo's place. As much as I have enjoyed watching Cam and his funky moves in the crease, I think it is finally Gerbs' turn to shine, and he definitely earned it last night, despite the loss, which was certainly not his fault. The Sabres seem to have a harder time figuring Gerbs out so far AND he is better at handling breakaways...something the Swords have been throwing at the Canes a lot lately.

    Therefore, I say put Gerber in Friday night.

    In somewhat closing, I quote my brother from a brief discussion we had about Game Three...

    "If the Canes would just play a complete sixty minutes of hockey, they would truly be unstoppable."

    And as much as the refs get on my AND Laviolette's (Don't believe me? Go hunt down the press conferences for this series.) nerves, the fact that the Canes have yet to play a full hour of hockey in the Eastern Conference Finals is their real problem. They *really* need to do that if they want to confront (*much more than likely*) Edmonton.

     
  • At 5/25/2006 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I know there are a lot of complaints about the officiating and I agree they have been inconsistant, for both teams. What people need to realize is that usually the team that is working and skating the hardest, is the team that will get the benefit of the calls. The Sabres outworked us last night, we did not skate like Game 2 and that was the difference. Still, it was great to see the boys dig deep and claw their way back into the game and even had a chance to tie at the end. It is very important that the Canes bring their skating game on Friday. If they do, I see the series coming back to Raleigh even at two.

    As much as I like Cam Ward, I think it's time to bring Gerber back. He looks to be back to his regular season form and with the season he had he deserves another shot. Cam has done a great job getting us to this point but I think he's cooling off a bit.

    JE

     
  • At 5/25/2006 12:17 PM, Anonymous PittsburghCanesFan said…

    I pick the Canes to win the next 2, then the series in 7 unless the Canes don't play the whole game. These teams are evenly matched, but the difference has been the Sabres' 60 minutes of effort, work and heart against 45 mins of the same for the Canes.

    Can we all stop complaining about the refs now? I've heard enough...

    Go Canes!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a friggin game.
    But Man the canes were sorely beaten in the 2nd and the refs missed some big penalties committed by the sabres.
    We are still Ok but we can't let another one like that 2nd happen again. Good idea to pull Cam Ward - it did change the momentum somewhat, but would still like to see him back in for game 4. SHould have gone with empty net about 30 seconds sooner, but who am I to second guess ;-)

     
  • At 5/25/2006 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree that the officiating was not on our side in the game last night. I felt there were a lot of calls that weren't made against the Sabres that should have been. They took quite a few cheap shots on our guys that didn't get called. The Canes totally lost their composure in the second for a bit, but I feel they came back really well by the end of the 2nd and into the 3rd. I think the goalie change gave them a nice confidence boost that helped. I think Ward has done an awesome job in net and Gerber also played awesome last night! A Sabres fan made the comment that Buffalo has been able to find ways to win when their backs were against the wall. I think Buffalo is a very good team, but so is Carolina. All of the teams aren't where they are now without hard work and a lot of effort. Carolina has also proven themselves that they can come back when their backs are against the wall as well. They were down 2 - 0 in the Montreal series and came back to win 4 straight. Carolina also has proven to come back stronger after a loss. I have noticed throughout the playoffs that when they lose they come back really strong for the next one. Tomorrow night is very critical for the Canes, if they win then they will have accomplished their goal of winning one road game. I think as of right now we are still ok, but if we don't pull it off tomorrow night, then we will be in trouble. Our guys have fought way too hard to get here and I think it's time to bring the Cup to Carolina! Let's go Canes!!!!!!!!

     
  • At 5/25/2006 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory."

    --Bill Russell,
    basketball legend

     
  • At 5/25/2006 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would just like to say that I REALLY like watching Stillman play. He was great in game 3. He was great in game 2 -- doing all the little things that move the puck to the right place. His hand-eye coordination blows me away. On the other hand, Mark Rechhi, while he's doing well, I think could be doing a little better. For pete's sake, he scored a hat trick on the Canes this year. When the "Wrecking Ball" does score, it's always a great looking goal. I just hope we see more of it. And Eric Staal -- he just plain shows up EVERY night, and I mean EVERY night, ALL SEASON.

    Let's go Canes.

     
  • At 5/26/2006 10:55 AM, Anonymous nuts4pucks said…

    I don't think they're "all right", at all. They will be if they win this game tonight, but until that happens, things are iffy at best.

    Two things: Move your feet! As others have observed, the team that is skating and possessing the puck generally gets fewer penalties. This will help them accomplish the 2nd thing: STAY OUT OF THE BOX! The Sabres power play is too good to keep giving them these opportunities.

     
  • At 5/26/2006 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well said, Sabresfan. I agree with you completely. (and I'm a die-hard Caniac from Greensboro days).

    If the Hurricanes can't elevate their game and win tonight, they're done.

    You gotta tip your hat to Buffalo. They are a great team, and if they go on and win the Prince of Wales Trophy the Eastern COnference will be very well represented.

     
  • At 5/26/2006 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just hope there aren't too many Buf folks in the east lot for Sindays game.

    Caniacs -- Come early and fill this thing up.

    time to Roll.

     

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