For the second consecutive game, the Carolina Hurricanes pushed to overtime, and for the second consecutive game, the Carolina Hurricanes had to settle for 1 point. The result was not bad in either game. The Canes played well enough to win against a good team on Saturday, but just did not catch a break. And Monday’s game in Edmonton was a tough 1 schedule-wise against a good home team in Edmonton, so it is hard to be too disappointed in getting a point. That said, the Canes still sit in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings, so anytime there is a point to be had the Canes need it.
Overall, the Canes played a very good road game. The first two-thirds of the first period was a rare Canes clinic in playing a puck possession game in the offensive zone. The Hurricanes were unable to muster much in terms of real good scoring chances, but it was a clinic in getting the puck into the offensive zone and keeping it there until the shift was over. The rest of the game was more even but still featured the Canes playing solid 2-way hockey but just not generating a ton of grade A chances ultimately pushing the game at 0-0 after regulation to the new version of the skill competition that decides these games.
A few player and other notes:
1) Cam Ward
He did not have the toughest of nights behind a Canes defense that did not give up much, but how can you fault 0 goals in regulation? He was good enough to win with any offense, and that is all you can ask. He did spit out 2 juicy rebounds in overtime, and 1 ended up deciding the game when former-Cane Andrej Sekera banged it in, but this game easily continues a string of games in which the goalies have been good if not better.
2) Too quiet offensively
Despite mostly winning the battle to have the puck, the Hurricanes just could not do enough to generate good scoring chances. When I think back through players and try to remember if they had a single grade A scoring chance…Jeff Skinner? No. Eric Staal? Couple grade Bs maybe. Kris Versteeg? Eh. There just was not much for offense on Tuesday.
3) The positive flipside
Not very long ago, this game was a 2-0 or 3-0 loss when the Canes let a few big breakdowns and inability to generate offense turn a statistically decent game into a typical Canes loss. The Canes continue to improve defensively. The volume of learning moments for the kids on D is decreasing and not really much different than what you get from any NHL defenseman. The improved goaltending has also been key. The end result is that even on nights that do not go their way, the Canes are generally in games which often earns a point and ideally the second 1 more often when given the chance.
Ugh. After a great start to the new way to decide tie games, I as a Canes fan was thrilled with a 3-0 start and the fact that the dreaded shootout would decide many fewer games. Since then the Canes have been abysmal in overtime with a 1-6 record. After the Nashville loss I grumbled about poor decision-making when the Canes took a mediocre scoring chance instead of using puck possession to change players and play fresh against tired.
Tonight my issue is the volume of defensemen that the Canes trotted out for overtime. Overtime is about scoring not surviving. Surviving is just too hard. I like the idea of using skating defensemen in overtime, but I think the issue is that they need to be reprogrammed to do it the right way. Except when Hanifin broke to the net himself, too much the Canes seemed to playing 1 forward and 2 defensemen with the 2 D. That just does not work because it is so difficult to attack with 1.
5) The fourth line
Without playing in overtime, the fourth line averaged about 10 minutes of ice time. I thought the trio of Brad Malone, Jay McClement and Riley Nash were really good in their role. First and importantly, the group is part of the penalty kill which continues to play really well and had a couple important kills in regulation. Second, they had a number of good shifts in which they pinned the Oilers in their own end for 40 seconds before getting off safely, and when they did have to play defense in their own end, they were sound.
6) A decent return in the first tough game of the week
I wrote in detail about the physically demanding schedule this week. The back-to-back all the way back in the Eastern Time Zone on Friday and Saturday might be the worst of it, but after playing home on Saturday and then getting only a single day off to fly out west and get settled, tonight’s match up was also tough. When you net it out, getting a point in the standings is more good than bad.
7) Brock McGinn
Not a great game for him. He took a penalty, had a bad turnover that led directly to a good scoring chance against late in the game and just generally did not have a great game. My concern with McGinn is that he just is a step slow to play the kind of game he is playing at the NHL level trying to get around the ice and create chances by creating turnovers. Too often the puck gets behind him and leaves his line mates sorting out the neutral zone. Just like with the young defenseman, it is important to remember that he is only a few games deep in trying to adjust the NHL speed and pace. While it is far too early to make any final declarations, I just do not see the current version of his game as NHL-ready.
8) Jaccob Slavin
Just like Brett Pesce earlier in the season, Jaccob Slavin continues to look capable as a top 4 defenseman which is impressive given how shallow he is in terms of NHL or even AHL professional experience. The future is now.
Next up is the first match up of the season with Vancouver on Wednesday.