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.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Something Not Right

Well I guess we all kind of knew it wasn't going to be easy. We've talked before about playing on the road in the playoffs. You know the home team is going to come out hard, you know the fans will be loud and you want to make sure you get through the first part of the game in a manner that gives you a chance to win. Obviously giving up a goal early is not what the Canes wanted to do, but at the end of the first period, they were only down by that 1 goal. To me, it just seemed like something wasn't right for the Canes from the start. Maybe it was the long flight, maybe the nerves that come with being this close, or maybe the hostile environment. For whatever reason, they didn't seem to be skating like they can and although the ice wasn't totally tilted in one direction, the Oilers could have been up by a larger # at the end of the 2nd if not for the play of Cam Ward. The Canes seemed to start to play better the last 5 minutes of the 2nd and when they came out in the 3rd period and started to play more and more like themselves, I felt it was only a matter of time before they found a way to win the game. I, like you I'm sure, felt that when Roddy scored it was now a game for the Canes to take. On the road, scored tied 1-1 and around 10 minutes to play with the momentum on your side is a good place for the road team to be. Unfortunately, this time it didn't turn out the way the Canes had hoped it would. Ryan Smyth scored a typical Ryan Smyth goal to win it for the Oilers in a period that I thought the Canes played their best. The Canes did a good job of keeping the Oilers to the outside for the majority of the period and skated more like themselves in the 3rd, only to have the game taken away from them late. In some ways, this game resembled game 1 with the 3rd period rally we have all come to expect and enjoy, falling a little short. The good news is that the Canes are still up in the series and still have a chance to put the Oilers in a deep hole with a win on Mon. night. On Mon., I would expect to see more of the way the Canes played the last 25 minutes of this game and less of how they played in the first 35. If that is the case, we will all be anticipating a visit from Stanley to Raleigh next week.


  • At 6/11/2006 12:59 AM, Blogger canesguy said…

    Ron, as usual, your thoughts are right on the money. THE CANES DID NOT PLAY HURRICANE HOCKEY for much too long a time. They can not assume that Cam will always bail them out (which he certainly did in the 2nd period) and expect to always have a miraculous 3rd period comeback. I think the zebras missed one when they didn't call goaltender interference on the winning goal. As Cam said after the game "It's hard to get over and do your job when somebody is standing in the crease right on the line." BUT the Canes never should have created a situation where that could be the winning goal. I hope that the Canes are mad not only at Mr. Magoo and crew but very mad at themselves and that they play a much better, more focused, better skated game on Monday night. I think Cam and Roddy did fine - the rest have things to atone for. Which they are very capable of doing.
    Canes in 5! GO CANES!

  • At 6/11/2006 1:44 AM, Blogger Stormbringer said…

    I just knew sweeping the Oil would be too danged good to be true. Not that anyone actually wants their favorite team to lose, but I would have much preferred the Canes had lost in Game Four than Three.

    The only reason the game remained close for the majority of the hour was Cam Ward. None of the other Canes *really shined*, at least until Brindy scored. But, even though the Canes did play a little better after the goal, they still had room for improvement.

    It can never be said enough: If the Canes could keep playing a complete sixty minutes of hockey, they can go places. They certainly did not play a complete hour in Game Three, and it *really* showed.

    I wish I could be glowing about my boys in this response...but sometimes, a game comes along that makes doing that a rather arduous task. Game Three was/is one of those games, I'm quite sorry to utter here.

    But to end on a positive note...I think the possibility of the Canes coming out roaring Monday night is a good one. As Mr. Francis noted very well, the upcoming game would be *the* time to start putting the nail in the coffin...a nice 3-1 sized nail, that is. :D And I'd like to think that Lavy will hammer that pun intended.

  • At 6/11/2006 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tell the Oilers to bring it on. Lets finish this thing where it started, in Raleigh.

  • At 6/11/2006 7:20 AM, Anonymous Dan said…

    To me, last night answered the question of what would've happened in game two if Roloson wasn't injured, only with the momentum reversed. The only difference was that we managed to get a clean rebound and shot in, but otherwise there was no continuity at all to our game. Rod was losing faceoffs, the powerplay had trouble generating shots (when we even got one), and whenever we started to get a little momentum we lost it again.

    At any rate, we have to be smarter when we try to be "physical" (because there is no way we can match what Edmonton does)- yeah, some of the penalties were crap, but most weren't; my beef was that they weren't called equally. For example, the interference call on Hedican at the start of the third- I'll live with it even though it's pretty soft (we were coming over to hit and he dumped the puck a little earlier). But CALL IT EQUALLY, because I saw at least one obvious situtation later in the period where we did the same thing Edmonton had done and no hand went up.

    At any rate, if game 4 looks anything like game 3 (or the reverse of game 2), I'm worried. 8th seed or not, Roloson or not, this is still the Western Conference Champs, and letting a 2-0 lead go is going to be very damaging to momentum! See you at the RBC Center Monday night!

  • At 6/11/2006 7:36 AM, Blogger nchurricane1 said…

    Ron, I couldn't agree with your assessment any more. You could just sense once into the first period that they weren't skating all that well and that the Oilers were primed to win. I too got very excited when Brindy scored in the 3rd period to tie the game up. All I could do was keep thinking here we go again!
    I, like Stormbringer stated, would not have minded the Canes loosing Game 4 but now that #3 belongs to the Oilers, the next game becomes important to the Canes. I just hope they come out skating like in Game 2!!

  • At 6/11/2006 7:41 AM, Blogger HurricanesAngel said…

    Did Smyth play dirty and stuff a sock in the fat woman's throat? He might have, but Cam and Rod will find a win to snatch it out and let her sing in Raleigh! I was so out done at the Canes skating last night. I don't know what was going on but I do know Cam didn't lose this game for the team. He played another great game. Rod is a true leader and continues to show it in each and every game. Now if Staahl could only get back in his groove, I wouldn't worry so much.

  • At 6/11/2006 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ron and Canesguy, you are right on. We did not play HURRICANE HOCKEY last night, at least not what we saw Wednesday when everything was clicking on all cylinders! Funny that in the first period, I remarked to my son and a friend who was watching the game with us, that we have to really step it up, that "there will be a time in playing catch-up hockey that Cam cannot bail us out." I wish last night hadn't been that occasion. Now, though, maybe they have gotten the jet lag and the kinks out , we will see the REAL HURRICANES that have earned the right to play for--and WIN--the Stanley Cup. IN FIVE! WE BELIEVE! LET'S GO 'CANES!

  • At 6/11/2006 9:54 AM, Blogger linda schlachter said…


  • At 6/11/2006 10:50 AM, Anonymous chip trotta said…

    Ronnie- you tell it as it is. the game was not typical Canes hockey. but after reading everyone's comments, not one takes about the stellar defense. like you said, it SHOULD'VE been alot worse. my wife loves Cam Ward but i'm a little more partial to the other Ward. Aaron is the Man!! when you see him, tell him i said so. the hits he's dishes out and pucks that he takes to protect his goalie. man alive! or and he can score to.
    Canes in 5!!!!

  • At 6/11/2006 11:32 AM, Blogger Bobbert said…

    Congratulations to the Oilers for bringing everything they had to Game 3. Everybody around here had been counting chickens and thinking about what to do with the Cup when it visits our house, that they forgot to play hockey! Now we have some of the intensity and high level stress we saw with previous series. Let's hope this is a wake-up call for the Canes and they bring it all to Games 4 and 5. GO CANES!

  • At 6/11/2006 12:43 PM, Anonymous biscuithead said…

    The canes need to play a much gritter defense. They have not been agressive enough taking the puck away in the defense zone. The Oilers were able to operate at will, putting the burden on Cam to keep the Canes in the game. Without an effective defense, you cannot hope to play well offensively. I observed they only play agressively on defense when they are put on the ropes like they were with Buffalo. Lets try taking the puck away and turning it up ice quickly.

  • At 6/11/2006 1:52 PM, Blogger hffpff said…

    canesguy: "I think the zebras missed one when they didn't call goaltender interference on the winning goal."

    That goal is legit according to Rule 78i of the NHL Rulebook:

    In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and offensive player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.


    Actually, I think Ward probably got away with a slash when he took a swing at one of the Oilers right after the goal.

  • At 6/11/2006 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have to say I was disappointed in the Staal, Recchi, Cullen line. What a great combination of players that totally didn't show up last night. My opinion -- nerves and maybe some fatigue.

    There is so much hockey hype in that town it can swallow you up and spit you out! I read a bio of Gretzgy with my son and I remember it saying that even if he bought a cup of coffee it made the paper. He was actually relieved to go to LA and be a bit anonymous! I don't think the media pressure helped the Canes at all. You could tell Whitney was getting tired of being asked about his days as a stick boy!

    But all that aside, the Canes CAN play better and hopefully will on Monday night. If I had them in the locker room I'd say, "Trust your talent, make the most of your chemistry, and skate like madmen!"

    Let's Go Canes!

  • At 6/11/2006 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ron, Chip, et. al, you are right, and point taken. Our defense did play well, and indeed kept the game from being a complete disaster. Defense definitely can win games, as long as there is some offense to back it up. Can't wait until tomorrow night to see which team shows up--hopefully the REAL Hurricanes. Let's Go Canes! We know you can do it!

  • At 6/11/2006 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ron, you're assessment is absolutely correct. However, I believe the Oilers took a mental swing and got inside of Rod's head by calling him a cheat. Ever since that comment, it seems Rod has been playing more tentative. He seems to be second guessing himself in lieu of playing by his gut. This also seems to be marring his line as well. Instinctually, they all play as a well oiled machine (no pun intended). But that instinctual play of Rod's seems to be gone by the wayside. His faceoff percentage is way down. He's putting too much thought into his play. He's loosing his confidence. The comment (al a Lindy Ruff) was only a ploy to throw him off. WE ALL KNOW ROD DOES NOT CHEAT OF FACEOFFS! Rod knows he does not cheat on faceoffs. Now Rod has to play with the confidence we all know and love. WE LOVE YOU ROD AND WE LOVE THE ALL THE CANES. WE TRUST YOU AND HAVE FAITH IN YOU. You need to have that same faith in yourself.

  • At 6/11/2006 5:27 PM, Blogger SFC Ken said…

    Two positive things I saw, Cam Ward and the Canes defense. The Oilers have yet to score on a power play and Cam kept us in the game.

    The offense was off, but how many of us really thought the Oilers were just going to sit back and hand us a win? The Oilers took advantage of the off time, I'm sure they watched plenty of tape and adjusted. How else can you explain Rod winning only 50% of the face-offs.

    I'm not worried, at least not yet. The Canes usually rebound when they know they play their game.

    I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

    GO CANES!!!!

  • At 6/11/2006 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The defense was decent except on the goal by Smith where they let the original shooter just waltz into our zone and fire away. You've got to take that guy out as soon as he crosses the line. Trust Ward to make the save!

    The penalties in the first period really shot any chance we had of getting skating. Whether they were all legit penalties or not, I think they were, but like another poster above the refs need to call these penalties equally on both teams. The call to make it 5-3 in the 1st was absolutely atrocious! If you think Edmonton never does a baby hook like that, you're on some serious prescription meds! What's up with all the high hands and elbows to the faces that are never called? Edmonton continues to slam our boys in the face and nothing is called...

    The Canes must learn that Ward won't continue to bail them out every game. If anything, he may be due for a letdown, and if that happens...we are in deep trouble! We need to play for 60 minutes, win Game 4, and come home and put this baby away!

    Anyone wonder why Magoo acts like such a bully whenever someone questions a call? Did you see him huffing and puffing when he waived off the goal by the Oilers? What is his MALFUNCTION! He needs to relax and call the game both ways! Sure, he was all over the Oiler's players in this instance, but man alive, what an a$$ he makes of himself on national TV

    Go Canes!

  • At 6/11/2006 7:24 PM, Blogger dave's wings said…

    Home Ice Advantage.....this is what the Canes were playing for the last two weeks of the season. They have that right now. They need to come out in Game 4 and hold the Oilers to nothing short of shut out. Up 3-1 going home is the only situation that will do. Edmonton has already managed to come back 0-2 in a series. The momentum swing will be difficult to overcome. I felt that home ice would hold serve in most games but the Canes do not want to come home all tied up. too much at stake. Aaron Ward, god love him, has to quit being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Big one tomorrow night...feel the Canes are now due after a sub par game they could have won...GO CANES!!!!!!! P.S Thanks Ronnie and WRAL for putting this blog together. Good place for NHL fans to voice what they feel and see.

  • At 6/11/2006 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rod is anything but a Cheat. Ref's know a cheat and that is what getting tossed out of the circle is all about. To win faceoffs takes timing, skill and cunning. Rod has masterd these. He gets tossed sometimes but not very often.

    For the Oilers to state that he is a cheater, and that is why he wins so many face offs, is a true sign of their desperation.

    I was watching how the puck was dropped when rod was in the circle last night. I could not help but feel that Rod was having to deal with more than beating his opponent to the puck. Statistically speaking Rod is not a streaky guy when it comes to faceoffs.

    I guess I will have to chalk it up to home ice advantage for the Oilers.

    The Canes are the better team and when they all play Hurricane Hockey, nothing can stop them.
    It is all about getting Two More Wins.
    Monday night will be a great game.
    Sammy Markov 55

  • At 6/11/2006 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Roddy can not do this all on his own. Eric ? Doug ? Mark ? step up to the job that needs to be done here.

  • At 6/11/2006 10:30 PM, Blogger canesguy said…

    Reply to huffpuff: I don't think the contact with Cam in the crease was "incidental." Neither do Cam, Lav or the other Canes. Obviously, Mr. Magoo did. I continue to disagree.

  • At 6/11/2006 10:44 PM, Blogger rmmeli said…

    I can't believe any of this is geting to Rod Brind'Amour. He is too much of a professional for that. The calls definately did not go the Canes way but that was the way it was bound to go with Mr Magoo there. I take pity on Podborski who had to officiate with him.

  • At 6/12/2006 6:15 AM, Anonymous janet rudderham said…

    Hi from CB ! wrote in yesterday but it got lost in cyber space or the web master doesn't like me ! I think the Oiler fans are being a bit premature -celebrating in the streets as they did -one win does not make a championship ! Maybe it shows how scared they were that it would be a sweep ! Enough hype , Edmonton -send all the old heroes from days gone by home! It's time for my guys to remind you a little fear is not a bad thing ! Come out smokin',boys!! Saw a few Cane T's in the stands. (brave ,proud souls)
    I'll be watchin'- fingers and toes crossed !! the Can. Con

  • At 6/12/2006 8:41 AM, Anonymous NHLfan said…

    The game winning goal for the Oilers was legite, legite, legite. How many times do you have to see the replay or re-read the rules? Sorry it didn't go the Hurricanes way, but slow down a bit on putting the Canes names on Stanley's cup. This is hockey afterall, and the best of 7 for good reason. If the roles were reversed and the Hurricanes scored the exact same way (legite mind you) I doubt we'd hear anything from the Carolina fans. If it's not the officials calls, it's the rules not being in your favor. Come on will you? The best team will win in the end, so stop the whining and enjoy some great hockey. Cam Ward has been such a strong force and after watching game 3, the score would have been much higher in the Oilers column had it not been for that guy between the pipes. As for Staal, don't forget that he's one main reason that the Hurricanes got this far. Just because he hasn't scored doesn't give the Canes fans the right to judge him and complain about him not putting up any numbers lately. Remember, he's also providing up some impressive assists, and again, he helped get the Canes this far. As far as Brindy, the Oilers know how to get to him and they are little by little. His comments lately haven't been so much what a team captain should be, but one who is feeling the pressures of competition.
    Enjoy the play-offs and lay-off the pity-party. Welcome to the NHL.

  • At 6/12/2006 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Edmonton calling Brind'Amour a cheat on face-offs is the pot calling the kettle black. What about their unsuccessful attempt to tilt the ice in their direction by replacing the rubber on the end boards ONLY ON THEIR SIDE OF THE ICE. That is blatent and inexcusable CHEATING. Fortunately the Canes notified the NHL and the situation was corrected.

    I'm positive about game 4. The nerves should be worked out, the Canes now have an edge to grind, AND McGOO WON'T BE ON THE ICE. That guy is just plain aweful!!! How he ever got a bid for the finals is beyond me. And it's not just because he's against us. What about that call on the no-goal for Edmonton? Not only should he not be reffing a play-off game, he should be sent back down to the Jr's for a tune up like we would with a player who performed like that.

  • At 6/12/2006 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Ron! When will you be a head coach or owner of a NHL team?? We miss you in the NHL scene and your intelligence on the game is right on point!! NC does not want to loose you though!!
    Go Canes and Go Brindy!!! :-)

  • At 6/12/2006 1:57 PM, Anonymous TigerCheeks said…

    Replacing the boards? I think that was just gamesmanship. The canes did something similar in their barn - during the pregame practice in the morning (home team goes first), they skated back and forth at the circles gouging the ice just before leaving so that it would be poor for the oilers practice.

    The CBC showed this, and commented on it during their telecast. They all try things to get under their skin. My favourite was in one of the old rinks (I can't remember which), the backup goalie had to sit in the stands. I remember one series, the team had the visitors bench shortened...

    As for Rod BA and faceoffs, the home team always has an advantage - the visitors have to set their stick down first. Experts debate this, I personally thing that the home team guy doesn't have to stop his motion so the drop doesn't affect his timing.

    The Oilers had the best faceoff % this year, so for them to be beat as bad as they were, it seemed odd. Again, sportsnet showed RBA twisting around. Hey - give him credit - a veteran move that he got away with.

  • At 6/12/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger lak said…

    Don't worry *nhlfan* we aren't having a pitty party, because us Canes fans have all the confidence in the world that they are going to bring it home and take care of the business! I for one am not looking for a game 7 this one will be done in 5. Get those engraving tools ready. As for *tigercheeks*, I guess you have never seen the Canes practice. That is something they do all the time (skating back and forth at the circles). As for the ice in our *barn* as you call it, Donnie takes alot of pride in the way the our ice looks. As a matter of fact, you won't find a better place to play hockey in the NHL. We certainly don't have to pull any cheap shots like that. It seems the opposing team is doing enough of that for all of us. Get ready, the EYE of the storm is upon us! GO CANES!

  • At 6/12/2006 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good luck in game 4, take no prisoners. Whatever the outcome we will be proud of this team.

  • At 6/12/2006 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Replacing the "boards" on 'their' side only?? What side? The "boards" were replaced along the entire rink (remember the announcers even stated that it took from 3:00 in the afternoon 'till 1:00 the next monring? Oh, I guess you only caught part of that discussion.

    I agree with 'tigercheeks', this is how teams prepare their ice in their said arena -- just like the Canes and every other team does to ready their playing "field" and perhaps get under the skin of their opponent. Well said 'tigercheeks'.

    I also agree with 'nhlfan' -- can't somebody pleeeeez get the Canes fans to understand that no one wants to hear the complaining anymore! Enough already about the officiating and the "continuing to disagree" (i.e. 'canesguy'). Get over it, move on and enjoy the sport and what this series brings.

    Perfect (and I mean perfect) statement from 'nhlfan': "lay off the pity party. Welcome to the NHL"

    May the best team win (and without the officials to blame or thank)


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