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What We Learned: Thus begins Carolina comeback; Zetter rules

Ryan Lambert
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Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

The Immaculate Reception. The Shot Heard 'Round the World. The Catch. The Hand of God. The Miracle on Ice.

All these pale in comparison with what must now be recognized as the greatest achievement in the history of human athletic competition: the Carolina Hurricanes actually winning a game.

Some might scoff. They might say the Hurricanes blew two separate three-goal leads to a team that is, in many ways, almost as bad as them (so bad that AHLer Robbie Earl(notes) was on the top line), played like garbage for the majority of the second half of the game and didn't do anything of note in OT except not lose, which, technically, isn't a bad strategy.

To those doubters -- nay, haters! -- I say pish-posh.

(Coming Up: Henrik Zetterberg(notes) dominates for the Red Wings; Thrashers' top line is better than yours; Sacco doesn't realize Avs have hit the wall; Maple Leafs humor; over-praising Stamkos; and Montreal somehow gives up 55 shots to Nashville, who somehow scores only two goals.)

That 14-game losing streak was merely a bump in the road for the Hurricanes, surely one of the five best teams in their division. Look at the stats for this unfortunate stretch: they forced overtime in four different games. Think bad teams like the Leafs can do something like that? They were only shut out twice.

Yeah, they allowed 54 goals in those 14 games, but you have to remember they were without Conn Smythe-winning goalie Cam Ward(notes) for two of those, so that number was bound to be inflated. And while you'd like to see the offense score more than 26 goals in the 14 games it took to snap this streak, you can't blame the Hurricanes too much. Eric Staal(notes), one of the best offensive players in the world, has missed the entire season with a case of the gout (at least I assume that's what happened, I haven't seen him in any games I've watched this season).

Anyway that's all behind us now. With this ultra-inspiring win over a high-quality opponent like the Minnesota Wild, the Carolina Hurricanes are on the fast-track to not only climbing up out of last place in the league and a lottery pick, but they're so close to getting it together and threatening for a playoff spot, since they're built for the long haul and not just the first quarter or so of the season. We've seen them go on that kind of season-defining, odds-defying run before.

Remember last year? They immediately went from being average to slightly-better-than-average when they hired Paul Maurice. They can do it again no problem once they fire him.

All they need is a little luck, a schedule full of nothing but games against lousy teams for the rest of the season, several huge free agent signings, a couple players to magically turn into superstars and for all their stars to get healthy for once.

Then the NHL will officially be on notice.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: The Ducks trailed by just one goal through two periods, which is pretty good for them considering they played Detroit (their recent record against the Wings is fairly bad, you see). But then they gave up five goals in the third period, on just 12 shots, which is not so good.

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Atlanta Thrashers: That Thrashers top line of Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) and Max Afinogenov centered by Nik Antropov(notes) is having a decent go of things. They've been together for three games and scored a combined 7-8-15, helping the Thrashers to two wins with five or more goals and three overall.

Boston Bruins: Great news for the Bruins that Savard is going to re-sign, but where do they think they're getting all this money against the cap? They're going to have to triple shift everybody because they're going to have nine players under contract, all of them making at least $4 million. Assuming Savard signs for the low-end of $6 million, the B's have something like $9 million in cap space (assuming the cap doesn't go down) with just 14 players under contract, with Blake Wheeler(notes), Mark Stuart(notes) and Vladimir Sobotka(notes) still RFAs. Good luck with that, Chiarelli.

Buffalo Sabres: Congrats to tiny little Tyler Ennis(notes), who scored a goal in his first ever NHL game, which his Sabres won over Philly.

Calgary Flames: The Calgary Herald's John Down on the Flames pasting the Leafs 5-2 Saturday night: "Where's the killer instinct?" Since when is 5-2, especially when you play like garbage, not an acceptably big scoring line for the second game of an all-road back-to-back? Did I have a stroke or something?

Carolina Hurricanes: It's cute that the Hurricanes thought Manny Legace's(notes) not being around the team for the breadth of this sad-sack streak was a positive. He got the go Friday night and promptly gave up four to the Islanders. Good work Manny!

Chicago Blackhawks: Just because the Blackhawks put Jeremy Roenick(notes) into their Hall of Fame doesn't mean they have to retire his number. That would just be silly. Ha ha ha ha. Wait, what?

Colorado Avalanche: Actual Joe Sacco quote after Saturday's ugly 8-2 loss to Vancouver: "No, I don't think we're hitting a wall. We've played a lot of good hockey up until that game. We've had some strong games, and tonight we just didn't have any energy and made mistakes, and it just ended up in the back of our net." Isn't that, like, the textbook definition of hitting a wall?

Columbus Blue Jackets: The good news is Mike Commodore's(notes) fatigue isn't due to anything wrong with his blood, the tests on which came back "pristine." The bad news is he's probably just out of shape after having the swine flu.

Dallas Stars: Mike Heika doesn't seem enamored of the Stars' play of late due to what he calls their lack of consistency. "Win one, lose one, win one, lose one," he says. Yeah, that sounds absolutely consistent. They consistently play well then play poorly. What's not to get?

Detroit Red Wings: Nice to see Ville Leino(notes) getting some credit despite having no points and being asked to do alarmingly little alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Danny Cleary(notes). "I just tell him, you know where I'm going to be and you know Z is going to have the puck," Cleary said, "so you've just got to find another spot on the ice where you can support Z and be in a position to shoot." Don't get in our way? Anyone could do that.

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Edmonton Oilers: Fernando Pisani(notes) can't catch a break. He's been sent home again with ulcerative colitis, just days after he returned from a back injury.

Florida Panthers: David Booth(notes) still isn't ready to go, and in fact hasn't even begun skating yet, but Pete DeBoer did offer to let him go with the team to his hometown of Detroit.

Los Angeles Kings: Rob Scuderi(notes) will miss tonight's game at Florida with a lower body injury.

Minnesota Wild: While we're congratulating people for their first NHL goals (boy there's been a lot of that going around lately), kudos are in order for John Scott(notes) and Robbie Earl, who scored their first goals: for Earl it was his first two: in the Wild's... loss to the Hurricanes. That's still weird to say.

Montreal Canadiens: All you need to know about Saturday's loss to Nashville -- final shots were 55-20 Preds. You can imagine how the rest played out.

Nashville Predators: Interesting bit of trivia -- the only Predator without a shot on goal in that game was Ryan Suter(notes) (in fact he didn't even attempt one). Steve Sullivan(notes), by contrast, had 11.

New Jersey Devils: Matt Halischuk(notes) and Tim Sestito(notes) each had an NHL first on the former's goal Saturday night. It was Halischuk's first goal and Sestito's first point. Halischuk, obviously, got to keep the puck.

New York Islanders: The Islanders have gone to overtime 10 times in 20 games this season. It's very likely that they'll shatter the 2006-07 Penguins' league record of 27. If they keep up the current pace, they will play about three full games' worth of OT.

New York Rangers: How PA Parenteau(notes), who scored the shootout winner against Ottawa, got a chance to try his hand at the NHL level: "Torts asked me if I was doing well in the minors in the shootout and I said, ‘I do pretty well, decent,' so he gave me a shot." So there ya go.

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Ottawa Senators: It's okay that Alex Kovalev(notes) hasn't even begun to earn his two-year, $10 million contract because they don't get enough power plays to keep him motivated give him a chance to work his magic.

Philadelphia Flyers: Scapegoat for snapping the Flyers' six-game win streak -- Danny Briere(notes). Down a goal in the third period and on a power play, Briere retaliated to a crosscheck by high-sticking Chris Butler(notes) and getting a double minor. "It was just a reaction . . . but it's definitely not a penalty you want to take at that point," Briere said. New plan would be don't do it next time.

Phoenix Coyotes: Taking bets here, but does John McCain actually know anything about hockey or did he get these lines fed to him? He has a lot of very specific memories about the Coyotes. Hell, I barely remember Roenick's broken jaw myself.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Kind of a hollow overtime win, I'd think, when your team's No. 1 star is Patrice Bergeron's(notes) broken stick. Either that or Dennis Wideman(notes) and Matt Hunwick(notes) shouldn't have just stared at the puck Tim Thomas(notes) left for them behind the net.

Nice to come back and win, one supposes, but I'm not so sure you can count on wins like this presenting themselves on a nightly basis.

San Jose Sharks: Here's a weird stat for the Sharks prior to last night's game with Chicago -- the power play was fourth-best in the league at 24 percent, running at 32 percent on the road but just 10.3 percent at home.

St. Louis Blues: The reason the Blues aren't playing well is because Andy Murray is their coach hasn't gotten big stars like Keith Tkachuk(notes), Paul Kariya(notes) and David Backes(notes) playing the way they're capable of playing, which is to say not-terribly. Murray also gave David Perron(notes) a talking-to after a game earlier this week because he took a high-sticking penalty. That game was also the one in which Perron had a hat trick. Murray told him he was being selfish. True story.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Sentences like this are happens when general sports columnists write about a team they never cover and don't care about -- "He's still a teenager, but Steven Stamkos(notes) has already shown he could be a legend for the Lightning." Christ, let's let him get in a half-season of success before we start naming him the team's greatest player ever.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Okay I need to lie down.

Vancouver Canucks: Vancouver's best player lately has been ... wait for it ... Mason Raymond(notes). He had three points in the Canucks' 8-2 win over Colorado, bumping his total in the last eight games to 5-5-10. Where did that come from?

Washington Capitals: A look at the Caps' high-risk/high-reward style of hockey. Their 3.65 goals per game is the best in the league, and their 3.05 goals against per game is sixth-worst.

Play of the Weekend

Okay so this is by far the worst play of the weekend, but I had to put it somewhere: What in the hell was Olli Jokinen(notes) thinking picking a fight with anyone ever, let alone Francois freakin' Beauchemin.

Best part is Iginla skating over like, "What, uhh.. what's going on here Olli?"

Gold Star Award

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Hank Zetterberg is on a little bit of a hot streak lately. His five-point game Saturday gives him 4-5-9 in his last three games. That'll play.

Minus of the Weekend

Okay I was pretty sure the Canadiens were bad this year. But how does anyone give up 55 shots to the Predators? The fact that they only scored two goals on 55 shots says a whole lot more about the quality of the Nashville attack than it does the Habs defense, which is embarrassingly bad.

Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week

User elicw10 has the perfect solution to "fix" the Senators' defense and give the Blackhawks some much-needed cap room.

Jack Skille(notes), Brian Campbell(notes) (7.1), Cam Barker(notes) (3.1 ish),1st

for

Anton Volchenkov(notes) (UFA), Alexei Kovalev (cheap buyou after season), Chris Kelly(notes) (cheap buyout)

Remember, he is fixing the Senators' D with Brian Campbell.

Signoff

I was once voted the worst audience participant Cirque Du Soleil ever had.

Ryan Lambert publishes hockey awesomeness pretty much every day over at The Two-Line Pass. Check it out, why don't you? Or you can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter if you so desire.

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