by Kate Shefte
Whoever mans the iPOD in the Hurricanes’ locker room at the RBC Center has taken to playing a song that describes the team’s play of late. If you have a young daughter or listen to the radio, you’ve probably heard it before.
The lyrics go a little something like this:
“Cause you're hot then you're cold
You're yes then you're no
You're in and you're out
You're up and you're down…”
(“Hot N Cold,” Katy Perry, One of the Boys, 2008)
After two straight wins, the Hurricanes fit into the “hot” category going into the All-Star break, but fans know all too well that that status could change on a dime. The ‘Canes took down the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, 2-1, a night after shutting out the Maple Leafs 2-0, in a game that quietly served as payback for Toronto’s exhilarating and perplexing 6-4 defeat at the RBC Center last Thursday. In their last 11 games, the Hurricanes have won four in a row, dropped five in a row, and then followed up with two wins.
After allowing a scary 21 goals over that five-game losing streak, Cam Ward has now let one puck by him in his last two games.
Joe Corvo and Matt Cullen scored during the middle frame of the Toronto game to seal the win, and should-be All-Star Ray Whitney and literal All-Star Eric Staal scored for the ‘Canes against Pittsburgh. It was Staal’s 20th of the season, but a more impressive accomplishment came Saturday against Buffalo. Staal played in his 300th consecutive game, good for second-longest in franchise history (he’ll have trouble catching up with Dave Tippet, who played in 419 in the late 80’s) and the third longest current streak in the NHL.
The ‘Canes – with the notable exception of Staal, who will be reppin’ his crew in Montreal – will now have a weeklong break while the NHL focuses on the All Star game festivities. Unfortunately this might give the ‘Canes time to cool off, but it will be beneficial for the few that are nursing injuries. Scott Walker left the game after absorbing a rough hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke and did not return. Niclas Wallin later injured his leg along the boards.
Strangely, after taking the MVP title last year and winning the most accurate shot competition two years ago, Staal will not be participating in any of the events in the skills competition besides the mandatory Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout. Perhaps the event coordinators, or even Staal himself, are giving the other players the chance to win some hardware.
When the last broken target is swept off the ice, the final car given is away, and the few words of conversational French picked up by players have started to fade from memory, the ‘Canes hope to go on a tear like they did last year after the All-Star break, going 19-9-2 down the stretch. Should Florida lose to Dallas tonight, the ‘Canes will carry the 8-seed into the All-Star break, with the aforementioned Panthers and Penguins hot on their trail.