‘Canes becoming favorite ‘Jerks’

‘Canes becoming favorite ‘Jerks’

March 09, 2019 8:00 AM
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Canadian sports fans may not appreciate the “Bunch of Jerks” — or for that matter, Johnny Manziel either — but hockey fans in Raleigh, N.C., are enthralled with the postgame celebrations of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Coined as “jerks” by Hockey Night In Canada commentator Don Cherry, a traditionalist when it comes to his beloved sport.

The gimmicks started friendly enough with a childhood game of Duck, Duck, Goose among the players. But the routines reached new heights following Friday’s 5-2 triumph over St. Louis. Four-time world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield joined the club to party in front of their adoring fans, putting on a choreographed (aka, fake) boxing match with Carolina’s Jordan Martinook, who fought Colorado Avalanche standout Nathan MacKinnon earlier this year. Martinook was wearing boxing gloves.

Even NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offered his approval after witnessing the team’s on-ice celebration schtick following a recent ‘Canes victory.

What’s next? The Rockettes performing their precision, high-kicking dance steps with the Canes when the Rangers come to town?

With team chemistry flourishing (like St. Louis’ last month), Carolina jumped into third place and an automatic playoff position in the Metropolitan Conference, making it one of the sides to bet on. Carolina is now on a 14-1-1 tear, including Saturday’s rally to top Florida, 4-3 in overtime, moving to within five points of Metro-leading Washington and three behind the second-place New York Islanders.

Meanwhile, the schedule just got tougher and the results are not as forthcoming for the Blues, who are now 2-3-1 since their 11-game win streak was snapped. Missing Brayden Schenn and David Perron, their third- and fourth-leading scorers, from the lineup doesn’t help. Still, kudos to Blues coach Craig Berube for lifting a club that sat dead last on Jan. 2, 11 points out of a playoff berth, to now perhaps challenging Winnipeg and Nashville for leadership in the Central.

Who’s next

Following long streaks by Philadelphia, St. Louis and Carolina, the next “team to be on” may be, of all clubs, Arizona.

Over the weekend, the Coyotes extended their win streak to six after stopping Detroit, It’s their longest run since February 2012. For about two hours on Saturday, the ‘Yotes held the second wild card berth in the West until Minnesota (+160) ruined Jarome Iginla Night at Calgary (a Gaming Today VIP selection).

Trade Bait

The top swap of players this calendar year might also belong to Carolina.

Right-wing Nino Niederreiter, who needed a “change of scenery,” according to Canes general manager Don Waddell, has been on a tear since leaving Minnesota. In his first 15 games, Niederreiter registered 15 points, then posted the game-winning assist in the OT win against Florida, giving Sebastian Aho his third game-winning goal of the week.

Niederreiter is the first Swiss-German on the roster since goalie Martin Gerber, who had a memorable run when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup in 2005-06. Gerber led the Canes to the division title, then registered the biggest win in Switzerland history when he shutout Canada, 2-0, at the Turin Olympics, held in Italy just 200 miles south from his hometown.

Yes, Cam Ward won 15 of the team’s 16 playoff victories when Gerber ran out of gas.

Blue Bolts

NHL No. 1 overall Tampa Bay equaled a league record by winning its 50th game in just 66 games after downing Ottawa Saturday. The Lightning equaled the mark set by the 1995-96 Red Wings, who eclipsed the historic mark of Montreal, which posted a 60-8-12 overall record in 1976-77.

The problem for bettors is how to bet the Bolts, which went off at -400 vs. L.A. and -550 vs. Ottawa at many books last week

With many teams seemingly throwing in the towel since the trade deadline passed — the NHL version of pro basketball’s “tankapalooza” — one suggestion is to wager on round-robin parlays. For example, you can take four heavy favorites and place them into four groups of three teams. In this way, should there be an upset, you can still break even without exposing too much of your bankroll.

New in New York

You won’t be able to tell the players without a scorecard in Greater New York in the next few seasons.

When New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero traded away Brian Boyle and Ben Lovejoy at the deadline, they received second- and third-round draft picks. That gives the Devils a first, three seconds, and a par of thirds in this June’s amateur draft.

Meanwhile, the N.Y. Rangers dealing of Kevin Hayes to Winnipeg leaves Blueshirts GM Jeff Gorton with 29 picks over the next three years, including 10 in the next two drafts. It’s the same formula Waddell is using to turnaround Carolina in building exciting, young lineups.

Meanwhile, the Islanders did nothing at the deadline. Why? Because they already have a young, dynamic roster. However, a big change could come this summer when Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky becomes an unrestricted free agent. “Bob” declared he wishes to switch to “a big city” located near “a large body of water.”

West Coast teams have goalies (unless he wants to wait a couple of years to head for expansion Seattle), while Tampa Bay and Washington already field solid goaltenders. Carolina is also likely out since Raleigh is located more than 400 milers inland from the Atlantic.That leaves clubs like Florida (James Reimer is hurt; Roberto “Bobby Lou” Luongo is over 40), Chicago (doubtful due to salary cap issues) and the Isles.

Something Bruin

The Boston Bruins extended their point streak to 16 games this past week. Nice win against Tampa Bay in the league's first meeting of clubs with point streaks of at least 14 straight contests.

Thursday

Blue Jackets at Penguins: In the first of a critical Metropolitan Division home-and-home series, Columbus’ defense is failing (16 goals allowed last week in four games) lately while the Pens’ ‘D’ has injuries. OVER

Friday

Wild at Panthers: The more-desperate Wild have won 7 of last 11 near South Beach. WILD

Saturday

Hurricanes at Predators: The Preds are in revenge situation and play well with 3+ days of rest (4-1-0). PREDATORS

Sunday

Jets at Capitals: Both sides are struggling to score of late. Why? I don’t care! Just bet the... UNDER

Last week: 4-1

Season: 39-44

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