Erik Cole makes his return to the RBC Center today, and fans have been buzzing about it all week. Cole continues to be gracious in dealing with the Carolina media, giving several interviews to the Raleigh N&O about the qualities that make him an excellent road roommate and where he was when he found out he was traded to Edmonton.
Here are a few shots of Cole, clearly wearing the wrong jersey…
…and then sitting on the wrong bench. (He is the fifth Oiler from the left, with his head down.)
There are Cole signs being lofted all over the RBC Center, with catchphrases that range from sentimental (“Welcome back, #26”) to cringe-worthy (“Rock and Cole!”)
The Hurricanes just returned from a 6-game road trip with a final record 3-1-2, and as Rod Brind’Amour said in a TV interview last night, now is not the time to take the foot off the gas. Brind’Amour said that after a successful road trip, a team has a natural tendency to relax a bit at home, but in the captain’s words, “that’s when you get clobbered.” Since the 2006 cup finals, Carolina has been shut out once at Rexall Place, 3-0, and absolutely dominated at the RBC Center last year, 7-2. This is the only time these two teams will meet this season.
Ward turned away two point-blank shots from Ethan Moreau, and the crowd went crazy. However, everyone seems slightly confused about how to react to the Cole situation. He received a standing ovation when his name was displayed on the Jumbotron, but when he starts off on one of those monster truck drives to the net or delivers a bone-crushing hit to a Hurricanes player along the boards, should the fans cheer? Why not? If Cole manages to score tonight (he has only has one goal on the season for the Oilers) the RBC fans will undoubtedly give him scattered applause.
Ray Whitney scored on a beautiful breakaway, with assists from Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu. Unfortunately, the ‘Canes are 0-2 on the power play yet again. The score is 1-0 at the end of the first period.