It’s been a while since we updated the Unofficial Canes Killer team -- like eight years. The recent exploits of John Tavares against the Hurricanes certainly are cause for re-examination and re-evaluation.
First, here’s how things looked in February 2004, when J.P. Giglio put together a first- and second-team for our old NHL Sunday page:
F Brian Rolston
F Erik Rasmussen
F Martin St. Louis
D Scott Stevens
D Brent Sopel
G Olaf Kolzig
F Petr Sykora
F Robert Lang
F Richard Zednik
D Chris Tamer
D Sandis Ozolinsh
G Patrick Lalime
Rasmussen is the all-time captain-for-life of the Canes Killers. For whatever inexplicable reason, he was a fourth-liner against the other 29 teams and a first-ballot Hall of Famer against Carolina. Rasmussen scored 52 career NHL goals in nine seasons; seven were against Carolina -- 13 percent of his career goals coming in only 4 percent of his career games played.
Lalime’s career fizzled out a couple years ago, but he was a Permanent Vezina Winner against Carolina (he passed Kolzig for the first team long ago): 11-4-4 with a 1.75 goals-against average, compared to career numbers of 200-174-48, 2.58. A whopping eight of his 35 career shutouts came against the Canes.
Zednik used to torment Arturs Irbe; Sykora was a particular pest in the playoffs and Tamer, the old Atlanta Thrashers defenseman, put up Norris Trophy numbers against Carolina: In 644 NHL games, he had 21 goals. Four of them came in only nine games against Carolina.
But tempis fugit, and let’s narrow this down to active players. Without further ado:
The Active Canes Killers All-Stars
F Martin St. Louis -- Vincent Lecavalier has one more point against Carolina than St. Louis, but it took him 10 more games to get there. St. Louis has 35 goals and 40 assists in 66 career games against the Hurricanes, and specializes in back-breaking goals.
F Olli Jokinen -- No one was happier than the Hurricanes to see Jokinen shipped out west, at least until the NHL tweaks its schedule again. At one point five years ago, Jokinen had a run of 19 points in nine against the Canes for the Florida Panthers, and he had three assists in their only meeting this year. With 57 points in 55 games, only Jaromir Jagr has more points against the franchise among active players.
F John Tavares -- A new addition to the squad, Tavares is on pace to pass Ray Bourque for the all-time lead (146 points) in … uh, 2038, at which point he’ll be 48. So there’s some work to do there, but 15 points in 12 career games is certainly a great start.
D Brooks Orpik -- No statistics necessary. Someone who takes the “killer” part of this a little literally for most people’s taste.
D Tomas Kaberle -- Does damage whether he’s playing for the Hurricanes or against them. In 42 career games against them, is second among active defensemen with 32 points. (Sergei Gonchar is first with 37 points.)
G Chris Mason, Winnipeg Jets -- Marty Brodeur is No. 1 on just about everyone else’s list, but the Hurricanes have gotten into his head over the past 10 years, and he struggles more mightily against them than any other team. Mason is 5-3-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average against Carolina, a substantial improvement on his career 2.62.
As a side note, I asked Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller this morning if he knew what he had in common with Mike Foligno, Guy Lafleur and Craig Janney.
“Hmmmmm,” Muller said. “Uh uh. Nope.”
The answer: Those four are tied for 41st among opposing scorers against the Hartford/Carolina franchise. Muller had 53 points in 56 games for New Jersey, Montreal, Toronto, Florida and Dallas.
“Oh, really?” Muller laughed. “I did not know that stat. I didn’t want to hear that old song in Hartford, I guess. Guess I played a lot of games against them. That gives me an edge. It didn’t say an average of points per game, did it?”
It did not, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at: Muller’s ahead of Cam Neely and Chris Chelios, among others, on the list. And as Chuck Kaiton can attest, Muller prevented any number of renditions of "Brass Bonanza" with big goals for the Canadiens.
Not enough to make him an Unofficial Canes Killer, but still pretty impressive.