Glen Wesley honored, 'Canes decimated | Sports
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Glen Wesley honored, 'Canes decimated

Posted by on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 11:04 PM

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RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—Glen Wesley’s retirement ceremony was both understated and grand, touching and humorous. It began when every Carolina player – including the goaltenders – wore Wesley’s jersey during warm-ups. No. 2 took the microphone for a bit and shared some memories and thanks, then took a final lap around the RBC Center ice to tumultuous applause. He and his family watched his No. 2 rise up the rafters, never to be seen on the back of a Hurricane player again.

“It’s a night that we’ll remember forever,” Wesley said.

Two of his former teams, the Bruins and the Hurricanes battled it out, with the Bruins winning the decision 5-1. Several of Wesley’s friends and former teammates wished him well on the Jumbotron throughout the game.

“It was a great night, a great ceremony, a bad result to the game,” Paul Maurice said after the game.

Matt Cullen opened the scoring with his No. 15 of the season, but the Bruins scored five unanswered goals to sweep the season series from the Hurricanes for the first time in both teams’ history. The win gave the season series an almost bizarre symmetry: the Hurricanes dropped the first two games by a score of 4-2 and the final two 5-1. Each pair included a home game and an away game.

The Hurricanes lost even more ground in the playoff race and their third in a row at home, all by a wide margin.

“We can’t give up those wins at home and expect to make the playoffs,” Ray Whitney said, in the simplest but most starkly accurate statement of the night.

The Hurricanes managed to contain the Bruins until the last four minutes, and were only down by a goal with a few minutes left in the third. A four-on-three power play looked to be the ‘Canes’ chance to get back into the game, but David Krejci scored on a shorthanded breakaway and it was all downhill from there. The Bruins scored two additional times, including one empty-netter, in the final four minutes.

Speaking of which, why on earth did Maurice pull Ward with his team down three goals and his team showing no signs of life? A coach trying for a three-goal comeback in a minute is just absurd. An empty-netter was a sure thing, and all it did was demoralize the team and crowd further.

The Defensemen curse continued as three blueliners went down through the course of the game. Joni Pitkanen and Joe Corvo were injured but returned later in the game, and Niclas Wallin’s nose was crunched during a play behind the net. He left the ice on his own steam, bleeding profusely. He returned to the bench for a stretch, but Maurice said the team doctors would have to take a look at it to see if any work needed to be done.

“They’re a good team,” Whitney said of the Bruins. “They’re very disciplined, they have a lot of depth up front, and they’ve got one of the top D-men in the league in Chara, who plays almost 30 minutes a night. They’re legitimate.”

Whitney may have been downplaying that a bit. The Bruins have held the No. 1 all season and have lost only 10 games in regulation with three-quarters of the season in the books. If the Hurricanes do manage to make the playoffs, there’s a good chance that this team will be the one they face.

The Hurricanes will take on the last-place New York Islanders on Thursday before returning home for a two-game stand. Fans must certainly hope that the ‘Canes will get their RBC Center woes out of their system before the weekend.

“It’s embarrassing to have your fans boo you when you leave the ice, not that it wasn’t warranted,” Whitney said. “It’s frustrating and a little bit humiliating.”

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