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Drop the gloves during the playoffs with SI.com's writers in the NHL Cup Blog, a daily journal of hockey commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
1:55 AM ET, 6/15/06

Carolina fans denied Cup celebration

Posted by Allan Muir
Doesn't matter which horse you've got in this race, you have to feel sorry for the Hurricanes fans on hand for Game 5.

With Edmonton defender Steve Staios whistled off for tripping early in overtime -- further proof, if it was needed, of the NHL's commitment to calling the game correctly -- the RBC Center started rumbling, like a rocket ready for liftoff. Although the faithful couldn't see it, they surely sensed that the final coat of polish was being applied to the old silver mug somewhere in the bowels of the arena. With five skaters on the ice to Edmonton's four, it would soon be theirs.

As the puck dropped, some Caniacs held hands. Others peered through clasped fingers, almost unable to watch the drama unfolding in front of them. But all felt their hearts pounding, their nerves jangling electric, anticipating the impending arrival of the most perfect moment in sports: an overtime Stanley Cup clincher on home ice.

And why not? The Hurricanes had been ruthlessly efficient with the extra man during regulation, scoring three times on six chances. And in a series that had been defined, as much as anything, by the success of Carolina's power play against the Clousseau-esque bumbling of Edmonton, it seemed preordained that this game would be decided with an Oiler in the box.

It was. And surely, nothing could have been as deflating to that crowd as seeing Fernando Pisani's shorthanded laser find its mark over Cam Ward's left shoulder … except perhaps seeing the Cup placed lovingly back in its padded crate, its new claimant to be decided on another night, perhaps in another town.

Still, they were witness to a magnificent game, weren't they? Game 5 offered three lead changes, several well-rung posts, and as much grit and intensity as we've seen in these playoffs.

And if you're gonna lose, a true fan might say, at least they lost on a good goal rather than some fluky bounce. Pisani's breakaway, created off a soft breakout pass by Cory Stillman, was about as good as it gets, another in a remarkable string of goals authored by this unlikely hero.

Now, there are questions as the series heads back to Edmonton for Game 6. Certainly the health of Doug Weight and Aaron Ward, two key performers who missed significant stretches of action due to injuries suffered during the game, will be an issue. Both might play Saturday, but will their effectiveness be compromised?

Cam Ward, though not to blame on any of the four goals, no longer offers a clear advantage in the nets for the 'Canes. After getting blistered for five goals in Game 2, Jussi Markkanen has given his team a chance to win in three straight contests. Is he capable of rattling off at least one more such effort to get his team to Game 7?

And despite finally netting one on the power play Wednesday night, can Edmonton really hope to complete the comeback when they're being this badly outclassed on special teams?

Even with that last thought in mind, a loss like this means there won't be many happy Hurricanes fans this morning. Perhaps they can console themselves with one simple thought: Imagine how much sweeter that OT Cup clincher would be if it came in Game 7.


Even though Staal tried to take some responsibility, that pass from Stillman was inexcusable. It looked like he just assumed the game was over because of the man advantage, but now he just looks like the first three letters of "assumed." The Canes will still win it in Edmonton, but it would have been nice to see the RBC Center explode if the would have sealed the deal in Raleigh.
Posted: 10:22 AM   by Anonymous
Awwww, poor Carolina. We feel so bad for you, NOT!!!! To those fans- it sure isn't easy to generate offense and win games when a top D-man gets hurt and isn't in the game (Ward), is it?

Posted: 12:53 PM   by Anonymous
Maybe Carolina should look back to the Sabres series to see how to play without key players. I'm sure that will be their whining excuse for the loss last night.

Such a shame to see the Canes bandwagoners so disappointed. Really classy how they were giving the Oil the finger and removing their Canes stickers from their cars...
Posted: 12:54 PM   by Anonymous
To anonymous at 10:22, great post!!!
-Niagara Falls
Posted: 1:18 PM   by Anonymous
No I don't feel sorry for Carolina's fans because the team has no business being there in the first place. Hockey does not belong in the South.
Posted: 1:35 PM   by Anonymous
The Buffalo fans are STILL whining!!!
Posted: 4:37 PM   by Katherine
Oh please, looks like a bunch of Bitter Betties are out to make Canes feel bad, well it wont work! GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 4:40 PM   by Anonymous
To the 1:35 poster: Amen! What, no complaints about that unfair 2-minute penalty on Campbell for delay of game? (Mindlessly repeated by sabre fans after Ryan Miller went off- after game 7...like brainless zombies). One thing learned this playoff season is Sabre fans have shown themselves to be the whiniest fans pro sports has to offer. Let me sum up their view:

- Anything good happens to the Sabres: they worked really hard for it, and deserve every bit of it (how dare you suggest otherwise!)

- Anything good happens for their opponents: we had injuries/refs robbed us (for best effect work both into your comment)

I'm not a fan of the Canes or Oilers, just like watching the game, and both would be great champs- but I'm rooting for the Canes if it will annoy Sabre fans.
Posted: 4:42 PM   by mike t in raleigh
Redneck Hockey Baby.

What is a Buff fan doing on the blog anyway?? Are you STILL making excuses for your team? Good series, but it is what it is mi amigo- over. For the most part your fans showed Zero class at the the 2 games I attended which made game 7 that much sweeter, so please, save the lecture. I don't know who was flicking off whom, but the majority of the Canes fans I've met were friendly- just ask the Oiler fans that have made the trip down. The y were friendly before game 1 started, when they were down 3-0, and even afterwards when we were buying each other shots at the bar talking up the game.

Last I checked the Canes still have 2 more games to clinch too so no whining down in Raleigh. Beyond that, I'm not sure what they're teaching you up there in Buffalo, but other teams from the "south" have won the Cup before this. For a league that missed a season last year, I would have assumed hockey fans EVERYWHERE would be glad of interest ANYWHERE. Just like the Great One bringing hockey to SoCal any interest beyond the traditional great white north is good for the league at this point, or would you rather just have continued on like last spring?? That sucked for everyone.

I'm a Caps fan first (yes, I know, we were terrible this year, but I've been one for a long time so you take the good w/ the bad....are you paying attention??), but it's been fun to see the Raleigh fans embracing the team. Stop w/ the sour apples and enjoy the fact that we all get at least another game to watch. Yes you had some defenders out, but there's a reason the Canes are the 2 seed, no?

Last night was a great game, with a disappointing finish for the home team who had a chance to clinch. Montreal didn't suck, I won't say anything bad about the devils, golden rule and all that jazz, buffalo didn't suck, and neither do the Oilers, but guess what, the Cane's ain't bad either, y'all, and I'd be curious what Cam Ward would say about hockey in the South, being from Alberta. I think you'd agree he's pretty happy with it.
Posted: 4:49 PM   by Anonymous
I think it's a really sad commentary on the city of Buffalo that their fans behave this way. I haven't seen the fans of any other teams act this way on the blog boards. Why so bitter? You lost a series - a good series between two very evenly matched teams. Stop crying in your beers about how injuries did you in. It was getting old after Game 7 and nobody really cares.

As for Game 5, I was there in Raleigh and it was a great game. The Canes will win in Edmonton on Saturday night. Beeeeeelieve it!!
Posted: 5:24 PM   by Anonymous
QUOTE: "The Buffalo fans are STILL whining!!!"
We stand by our team even in defeat. Let's see you do the same "caniac." You think this is bad, have you heard of Brett Hull and 1999? The world will never hear the end of it from us, we WERE robbed. Nobody in Buffalo is denying we got beat by your team this year, we accept it. If we were healthy though, we would be in your place right now in the finals. That's all we're saying, call it whining if you want.
Posted: 7:17 PM   by Anonymous
I'll tell you what Buffalo fans are still doing on the board- you see, up here we actually care about hockey a lot. Just because our team isn't playing anymore doesn't mean we don't have an interest in what is still going on. We are fans of the game, not just one team.
Posted: 7:35 PM   by Anonymous
Report: The massive flooding in New England during the latter part of May was not caused by soaking rains, but by Buffalo fans sobbing in the streets after their beloved Sabres were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Posted: 8:02 PM   by Anonymous
QUOTE: "We stand by our team even in defeat."

I guess ... although the record shows that Buffalo could barely fill 3/4 of the arena on average back in 2002-2003 when I believe there was plenty of defeat going on. Maybe ya'll were too busy posting comments about Brett Hull in 1999 to notice there was another season underway at the time ...

Before you comment on someone else's bandwagon fans, maybe you ought to look in the mirror.
Posted: 8:15 PM   by Anonymous
How many defensemen did the Sabres have hurt in 1999? We're dying to know.....
Posted: 8:54 PM   by Anonymous
If the Flyers were healthy would they have played in the Conf. semis against Ottawa instead of Buffalo? If the Sens had Hasek instead of some guy named Emory, would they have played Carolina instead of the Sabres? Of course not! Buffalo won those series, so injuries had nothing to do with them!
Posted: 10:48 PM   by Anonymous
To the 4:40 poster, funny, the same can be said about the Canes.

Posted: 11:40 AM   by Anonymous
Let's keep this short. Edmonton out hit, outskated, and outplayed Carolina the majority of the game. Two players from Carolina got hurt. Carolina is already missing arguably their best player and they have been missing him for a long time. Hockey more than any other sport is a team game and one or two superstars should not have that big of an effect on a team! With that said Carolina was in a position to win the game and that says a whole lot. They were outplayed but were still good enough to have a chance to win. The same could be said for Buffalo, except this time they are blaming injuries and not Norwood!!!

Posted: 11:44 AM   by Anonymous
Here is the short version....
If it was not for Norwood, or if it was not for all the people we had hurt, or if the Hurricanes were not a bunch of rednecks. The better team won. Not a team of superstars but a team. A team without their best player Eric Cole... what, are the canes fans not whining about missing Eric Cole, no were not. We play as a team and we play with the team we have. We are a team that is 3 lines deep and can skate with anyone. The oilers player a great game and I have a lot of respect for oilers fans in general after the way they handled themselves at the RBC on Wednesday.
Posted: 12:55 PM   by nightfly
What's the statute of limitations on bitching about Brett Hull? The guy scored what, 700 career goals? And remind me again what game that was... OH YEAH, it was Game SIX, and it was TIED even if the goal would have been waved off.

So to cling to this illusion of "we were robbed in '99" you first have to change history. Second, you have to assume that Dallas doesn't score later in that OT, and third, you have to assume that they lose game seven at home.

Keep stretching, guys. This was once the same classy town that cheered Scott Norwood after SB 25. What the hell happened?
I hope Weight and Ward aren't ready to go tommorrow and the Oilers take the game to force a game 7 - I can just hear all the whinning in Carolina about injuries. Considering all the injuries it took for other teams to endure for Carolina to get this far I find it quite ironic....ironic and delicious.... yes devilishy delicious.

Go Oilers!
(But really Go Sabres!)
Anonymous said...
"Stop crying in your beers about how injuries did you in. It was getting old after Game 7 and nobody really cares."

If you don't care, why then are you responding? Just curious....
Anonymous said...
"I guess ... although the record shows that Buffalo could barely fill 3/4 of the arena on average back in 2002-2003 when I believe there was plenty of defeat going on."

Our team was Bankrupt and being run by Gary Bettman and friends - if that isn't enough to keep people away, I am not sure what is...speaking of which, I heard the those zany 'Caniacs' have such a zealous fanbase these Stanley Cup Playoff tickets were really tough pull...scratch that, no they weren't.
Nightfly: You made some interesting points but missed a few things….

Yes it was game 6 - however, we were carrying the momentum in the 2OT and into the 3OT - Patrick hit a cross bar late in the 2OT and we had better scoring chances and even out shot Dallas by 4 or 5 shots. Given the length of the game, one of the longest in NHL Finals history, the Stars’ age and injuries were catching up to them as they were skating much slower than the younger Sabres’ squad. I know this because I was there.

Second, the goal scored by Hull - even if you call it bitching, whining, complaining, not classy or any of the above, I don't care...we were jobbed. A rule is a rule – even if it is a bad one.

Now the goal in question by Hull, even if he has scored 7,000 career goals or craps pucks for lunch, it does not change the fact that the goal by NHL RULE should not have counted. During the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs EVERY GOAL scored with ANY opposing player in the crease was called back - much less a goal scored while the actual goal scorer himself was in the crease.....that is except the most important one. This rule even extended to those opposing players who were not impeding the goalie in any way or had anything to do with the play….all called back, all no goals. So if there was an opposing player in the crease when a goal was scored, no goal, end of case...period. Yet the most important no call decided the NHL Champion of that year, I would say it was a pretty significant call.

Now, lets just for arguments sake say that Bettmen and friends had the guts to do the right thing and call the goal back as it should’ve been, it would stand to reason that it would’ve taken the wind out of the sails of the old and injured Stars squad. If Buffalo was already carrying the play, which they were, this correct call would’ve breathed new life into their already young legs and only add to their momentum. Thus it is easy to conceive of the fact that Buffalo not only had a chance to win it but probably would’ve won the game…had the correct call been made.

So had the correct call been made it would’ve been back to Dallas for game 7, what if that would’ve happened….?

Had it gone to a game 7 Captain Kangaroo, I mean Coach Hitchcock stated that Modano probably would not have been able to play due to injury; I believe it was a rib injury if I re-call. Given how injuries have alerted the course of many a team in this year’s playoffs, this is a pretty important fact to highlight. I am sure we can all agree had Modano - the team’s heart, soul and Captain - not been able to suit up for the deciding game it would have changed the landscape of that game and thus the series immensely.

So there is some food for thought and why we haven’t “gotten over it”. Had it been your team, you wouldn’t “get over it” so easily either.

I am from Buffalo, I love my Sabres and I was at that deciding game 6 so if I wish to talk about how we were jobbed, I will with passion and be proud of it. We were jobbed period.

Now all you 'Anonymous' folks can throw in your two cents....
Posted: 4:56 PM   by Anonymous
I would like to see how good Carolina would be without Staal, Wesley, Ward, Commodore, and Hedican. Probably not very good. It's not that Carolina was the better team, they just avoided injuries.

Someone refresh my memory, why wasn't Carolina #1 in the east? Maybe it's because a healthy Sabres team, playing for nothing but pride, beat them 4-0 on their ice on the final day of the regular season.

Go Sabres!
Posted: 5:09 PM   by Anonymous
Unreal. Buff fans hoping players remain injured? Do you really mean that? Very, very sad. How many sports teams over the years can say, "If only so and so weren't injured, we'd have won such and such..."?? It's part of the deal.
Anonymous said...
Unreal. Buff fans hoping players remain injured? Do you really mean that?

Damn Skippy...guess what, I don't like "The Canes"
Posted: 7:10 PM   by Anonymous
You Buff fans are just too funny. It's just to much on your poor little psyches to admit that you lost to the better team, so you bitch about injuries and ask what the 'Canes chances would've been if the entire team got hurt and we had to skate two lines of AHL guys and one of midgets with head injuries. Here's the thing, kiddos: We didn't have to. Our guys stayed healthy, yours didn't, so you were not the better team in the series. Or, would you prefer to claim the title of "Best Team of Fragile Sissies"? Didn't think so. So shut up already.
Posted: 9:35 PM   by Anonymous
QUOTE: "Our team was Bankrupt and being run by Gary Bettman and friends - if that isn't enough to keep people away, I am not sure what is"

Thanks for the education ... I guess the correct phrase in the original append should have been "standing by our team in defeat as long as they're making money and we like the owner".

Now, imagine if some other team's fans had said something like that ... I suspect they'd be called ignorant and/or unworthy of having a team. If the shoe fits ...
Posted: 4:13 PM   by Anonymous
It took 24 games, but the Canes finally have an injury.

Sabres fans aren't complaining, it's just annoying what happened to us and we have to vent.

No Sabres fan would have complained if we lost to Ottawa. It's just...ya know...Carolina...and hockey...in Carolina.

People need to stop complaining about the Sabres complaining. Have you heard how much the Canes whine???
Posted: 11:49 AM   by nightfly
Frank Wilshire -

That's the first time I've actually heard the case argued, instead of just blurted. Thanks for the good answer.

I still have to disagree (and me, a goalie!), and the difference is something you pointed out yourself - Hull was the goal scorer. On the one hand you've got the rule that no offensive player may be in the crease when the puck goes in, but on the other you've got the much longer-established rule that any player may go into the crease or cross the crease in pursuit of the puck.

In other words, Hull's chasing the rebound is valid, and once he gains possession of the puck, even if he's still there he's legit - and even though the puck was leaving the crease just as he was smacking it home. The rule was never meant to be similar to lacrosse, where no player is even allowed in the circle around the net - it was only meant to keep opposing forwards from stationing themselves in the paint and denying goalies room to make stops.

That's another way to look at it, anyway - not that it makes it fun times, but maybe a little easier to understand. The league botched the explanation much more badly than the actual call, which was split-second and, even on review, could be interpreted the way I've described. A different ref may have interpreted it more absolutely.

Believe me, I know about being jobbed. I coached a youth team that scored an OT game-winner for the championship. The trailing ref overturned the goal - he claimed to see, from about 120 feet away, that the shot had gone through a hole at the corner of the net before deflecting in off the defenseman, even though the ref on that side, with a clean view of the goal, called it good when it happened. Totally blown call. I went onto the rink myself and demonstrated as much, to no avail.

Needless to add, but we lost later on and my team was furious - but what could we do? We still had a legitimate chance to win that game after the bad call, and it did us no good to stay bitter afterwards. The Hull goal was different in the respect that there was no second chance to make it better, but the principle applies, sooner or later you have to let go of it.