Mac Carruth had a rough game in his first Memorial Cup outing. He's had other bad games lately - Game 5 of the Edmonton series comes to mind. He's had some good games as well, the Kamloops series comes to mind. He also was victimized for 3 goals in the Spokane series. Not one game, but over the entire series.
A few years back when the woman I love was new to junior hockey, we were watching a game with a TV feed, and the PXP guy used the phrase, "He's 20 years old - He's seen it all." Of course, this makes a ton of sense in the context of the WHL, and zero sense in the context of life.
Mac Carruth has seen it all.
His rough outing in the Halifax game was part of a duel featuring a goalie with 17 games of playoff experience against a goalie with 18 games of league finals experience. Fucale was finishing his 16 year old season as Carruth was signing his NHL contract. The WHL goaltender with the most playoff wins in history has done a lot of growing up before our very eyes.
Mac Carruth had some things to say the day after his worst game of the season:
Carruth's response Sunday when asked how he reconciled having an off-night in an all-important first game of the touranment was awfully illuminating.
Instead of wallowing, he watched how the media picked apart the play of his teammate Seth Jones, MacKinnon's NHL draft contemporary:
"I just turned the page, I guess," Carruth said when a reporter asked a question that used that shopworn hockey phrase. "Watched Sportscentre last night — Seth Jones kind of got hung out to dry by you guys. But I thought Seth played great. Goals went in from behind the goal line. That's not his fault. That's mine. Every goalie is going to have one of those nights. That was mine."To be honest, the first thing that came to mind for me was Patrick Roy in 1996: "I had my Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears" - such a great quote. The idea is to deflect pressure on to yourself - and let your team do their thing. In this case, it is wholly appropriate, as Carruth deserves the pressure, after an outing that he wants back.
Portland's preparation includes letting go of the loss to Halifax. Know this much: Carruth, given a night to sleep on the setback, had a sense of humour about giving up seven goals in a big game.
"They were pretty opportunistic," he said of the Mooseheads. "Theyre a good team up front, good in net — obviously better than us. As a team, we played better than they did. Didn't get the bounces, didn't get the goaltending."
Rest assured, he swears he wasn't being jolted away Saturday night by visions of No. 22 in Mooseheads red and green exulting after another goal.
"I slept fine," Mac Carruth said. "Melatonin helped me a little bit."
Quite literally Carruth has been preparing his entire life for this tournament. The chance to add a Memorial Cup to the WHL championship that he just earned is the #1 goal. His maturity is evident. He will be better.