The first season in the so-called “New NHL” has just ended in thrilling style, with the Stanley Cup final going seven games and the Carolina Hurricanes wrapping up the 2006 title last night, with a 3-1 win. A widely unpredictable series throughout, it took many twists and turns – let’s take a quick look back at the first six games…
Game one saw the Oilers shoot out to a 3-0 lead and look dominant, until late in the 2nd when they began to falter. The Canes tied it quickly in the 3rd, and late in the game knocked Oilers’ goalie Dwayne Roloson out of the playoffs in a goalmouth scramble. In an almost predictable followup, rusty Oiler backup Ty Conklin miscommunicated with defenceman Jason Smith, leading to a virtual empty-net goal by Rod BrindAmour with under a minute left to give Carolina a stunning opening game win of 5-4. Perhaps the shocking double-loss of both the game and their starting goalie was in part a reason for
It was back to
Yet the Oilers showed why they belonged in this Cup final in game five. A quick lead 16 seconds into the game quickly evaporated as the first period turned into the wildest and most entertaining of the finals.
Game six was highly anticipated as the Oilers had shown great life and spirit in staving off elimination in game five, and they utterly dominated the Canes back in
Much like the Calgary Flames in 2004, the 2006 Edmonton Oilers have temporarily become “
Last Saturday night I spent the evening at Peel’s Pub in downtown
So this all led to last night’s fantastic game seven – the grand finale for the 2006 season.
The Hurricanes came out stronger than they had since game 4, and it took the Oilers about seven or eight minutes to find their legs – they withstood a fierce emotional start by Carolina, accented by Aaron Ward’s goal through a screen of about 36 players. Frank Kaberle made it 2-0 on a deflected slapper early in the second and it looked like trouble for
But once again, the Oilers were given life by – who else – Fernando Pisani. His goal early in the third was a momentum shifter. The fierce attack by all three members of that line - Raffi Torres, Rem Murray, Pisani) put the Canes back on their heels on that shift which ended when Mark Recchi didn’t mark the hard-charging Pisani who buried the rebound.
After the goal the Oilers were charged – looking much like the team that dominated the later stages of game five and all of game six. Heavy forechecking from their smaller forwards like Michael Peca and Sergei Samsonov began to take its toll on the Canes defence. They started to out skate the trap that
Aside: what a great hipcheck by Chris Pronger in the 3rd period – cleanly done along the boards – truly a lost art, as too many “hip checks” today are really dangerous knee-on-knee hits.
But despite the pressure and forechecking by Edmonton, they could not capitalize where it mattered, coming closest on a power play and later when Pisani was denied late in the third on yet another amazing save by Cam Ward – following up a rush by Torres who got a shot off, Pisani didn’t get everything on the rebound but Ward’s quickness moving to his left saved the game for Carolina.
I was pleased to see Cam Ward win the Conn Smythe award, as he was easily the most deserving choice. His story is truly amazing - without Cam Ward it’s possible the Canes get swept by
Cam Ward kept the Hurricanes alive during those few points in the playoffs where the team broke down in front of him, and was truly the best player overall in the postseason.
It had been a long and mostly mediocre history for the Carolina/Hartford franchise since entering the NHL in 1979. As one of the four teams selected from the defunct World Hockey Association to join the NHL, they were often looked on as a misplaced franchise, halfway between
The Canes made it as far as the finals in 2002, but lost to the Detroit Red Wings in five games in what was seen as a bit of a fluke. This season was different – they dominated the Southeast division all year and ended up only a point behind