The best news going early on Tuesday morning is Eddie Lack. After a scary scene at PNC Arena that saw him sprawled on the ice after a scary collision on the game-winning goal, the report (per his Twitter account late Monday night) was that “everything looks alright and I’ll be able to go home tonight.” After the long scene that saw him removed on a stretcher with both teams still waiting on the ice, that is good news. Here is hoping that he is at 100 percent and back in action really soon!
As for the game that preceded the accident, it was disappointing but not completely unfruitful. Mid-game and last-minute goal scoring heroics by Justin Faulk were enough to get the Hurricanes into overtime to at least claim a point in the standings.
For me, the story of the game was the Hurricanes poor decision-making and attention to detail. I detailed most of the numerous break downs in my game recap from last night. In short, the Hurricanes generally had the better of play territorially and in terms of shot attempts. Detroit generated very little offense that was not at least partially courtesy of an egregious Hurricanes’ break down. And the sloppiness cost the Hurricanes an important point in the standings.
The strange schedule dictated by the rescheduled game sees the same 2 teams back at it at PNC Arena on Tuesday night. The point lost on Monday just increases the urgency to pick up 2 points on Tuesday. After either having an off night or possibly not responding well to the increasing pressure on Monday, it will be interesting to see how the Canes respond on Tuesday.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Hurricanes versus the Detroit Red Wings
1) Can the Hurricanes and Bill Peters right the ship in terms of staying within themselves?
As noted above, by far the biggest problem in Monday’s loss was the volume and level of bad plays in terms of puck management and decision-making. Jeff Skinner scored a big goal to stake the Hurricanes to an early lead, but along the way, he also had 2 big decision-making ‘oopses’ that harkened back to the Jeff Skinner of old who was a sub-par 2-way player because of his inability to correctly assess risk/reward. His first big ‘oops’ saw him try to do too much at the center line instead of making a safe, simple play. The result was a turnover and a rush the other way with the Hurricanes in chaos in terms of personnel and positioning. The play led to a breakaway and a goal against. He did almost exactly the same later in the game creating a dangerous 3-on-2 rush the other way. Teuvo Teravainen had a rough night reminiscent of the game that got him healthy scratched earlier in the season. He had 2 bad turnovers – 1 in the defensive zone and 1 at the offensive blue line that led to a 1-on-none breakaway. He added a penalty that was converted into a Red Wings’ power play goal. Elias Lindholm did not register in the ‘oops’ column, but other than 1 big hit, he had a passive game that was unlike his recent run of strong hockey. The list goes on.
There is always speculation involved in guessing the cause for poor play, but I think it is reasonable to say that the Hurricanes did not react well to the increasing pressure. Many of the errors were the result of players trying to do too much. The situation that the Hurricanes are in playing huge games in late March is a new 1 for the young team. In Tuesday night’s game, I will be watching closely to see if Coach Bill Peters and the players can reset and find the right balance of intensity with calm under pressure such that their game cleans up.
2) Cam Ward
We will not know for sure until the morning skate, but after yesterday’s scene, my assumption is that we will see Cam Ward in net. That very well might have been the case anyway with the back-to-back and the busy 5-game week. The Hurricanes desperately need a win, and a calming influence in net early and under duress if necessary could play a big role. If indeed Ward gets the start, I will be watching to see if he can help provide some veteran calm especially early in the game.
3) Leaders rising up
Justin Faulk had 1 of his biggest games as a Hurricane. His first goal was an incredible individual effort to convert a relatively low-grade scoring chance into a better 1 with nifty stickhandling, and of course he finished. And the goal he scored with only 51 seconds remaining to grab a point late could prove to be critical depending on how the rest of the season unfolds. Whether it is Justin Faulk or someone else, games like Tuesday’s often require a player or 2 to step up and make the big plays that get results. On Tuesday night, I will be watching to see which Hurricanes players rise up and produce under pressure.
The puck drops at 7pm at PNC Arena.