Friday’s home match up against the Florida Panthers set up to be a tough one. Florida’s ability to play a grinding style of play and forecheck aggressively has been a challenging match up for the Canes the past couple years. The Hurricanes did enter the game with the advantage of playing a Florida team that had played and traveled the night before just like in the first meeting this season. But also like the first meeting, the Hurricanes were unable to capitalize and ultimately fell 2-0 including an empty-netter. Unlike the first meeting that saw the Canes never get into the game, this was even and hard-fought throughout. But just like the first game, the Panthers made it tough to find any continuity or much for offense. And playing the second half of a back-to-back, I think it is fair to say that they were happy to play a ‘slog through the mud’ type of game and hope for a couple good plays to be enough to grab a win.
I think the Hurricanes actually got the better of the scoring chances by a modest amount at least in terms of quality, but there really was not much offense either way. The Canes did muster the best they could for a ‘rested legs push’ in the second period but also got nothing to show for it. Luongo seemed to get just enough (and not much more) on the couple of decent shots/scoring chances. The Panthers survived and found 1 pretty scoring play which was enough to win on Friday.
A few player and other notes:
Ward was not the problem. He looked sharp for not playing in about 10 days. It was not the most challenging of games in terms of quality or quantity of shots, but Ward answered when asked. The lone goal saw the puck go quickly across him and then shot into the net without much chance for him to stop it. Despite being similar in terms of quality of play and results, the 2 goalies are stark contrast in style and appearance right now. Ward just looks calm whereas Lack seems to be scrambling at all times.
A small, crowded rink
After some loose games recently, playing against Florida looked hard. It sometimes felt like there were 18 players on the ice with no room to do everything an every puck being a 2-player battle to see who could keep it, at least for a second until the next battle ensued.
I liked there game. They looked comfortable playing the hand-to-hand combat style of game on Friday. The only missing component was that 1 goal from keeping a puck on the boards, getting it to the point and then getting an ugly goal from a screen, deflection or rebound from a point shot.
Rare tough night in the face-off circle
The Hurricanes had a rare losing night in the face-off circle winning only 40 percent. Just maybe a stronger night would have led to a bit more possession time and the 1 goal that the Canes needed to at least get to overtime.
Next up is another quick weekend turnaround with a game on Saturday night in Pittsburgh.