A dose of broader perspective
While there is very little positive to take specifically from Saturday’s game itself, a bit of broader perspective is probably a good starting point.
The Hurricanes finished the week at 2-1-0 which is a solid playoff pace type of mark. Even better, both wins came in front of home fans and made for fun nights at PNC Arena. So while Saturday was not good, one does not have to reach back far at all to find a slightly larger sample size and legitimate positives.
The simple, unpleasant account for Saturday’s 4-1 loss
Put simply, the Hurricanes laid an egg on Saturday. The team uncharacteristically had little for jump out of the gate. Scott Darling had nothing for answers early when the team needed time to try to play its way into the game. And the other team was just better all night.
The defense did not give up a ton of shots, but the volume of defensive break downs and coverage issues meant that too many of the chances against were grade A quality. Rate the night as a C at best defensively despite the low shot volume.
By no means can one hang this loss completely on Scott Darling on a night when the team in total played poorly. But at the same time, his performance was equally uninspiring on a night where a strong start and a couple great saves could maybe have bought time for the team to play its way into the game. Instead, the Islanders first two shots were goals, and when the Hurricanes seemed to maybe be gaining their footing, Darling let in yet another goal on a shot that hit him and leaked through a hold and into the net.
Oftentimes in the ongoing Scott Darling debate is whether Darling was bad or the defense in front of him gave up too much. On Saturday, the answer was clearly both.
I thought Svechnikov had a strong first period with two of his patented stop and/or sharp turns behind the net to open passing lanes to the front of the net. He hit both Wallmark and Martinook early for good chances. He also had a nifty power move to the front of the net in the third period that led to a good chance. His game continues to trend upward.
In an era where fighting is gradually leaving the game, and fighters have been pretty much replaced by better hockey players, it is not possible to win or keep a roster spot by dropping the gloves. That said, the courage, heart and desire that Carrick showed by dropping the gloves against a heavyweight who had almost 50 pounds on him should not be overlooked.
Lack of attention to detail by the defensemen
The play by the blue line in total was weak. The first goal which turned out to be a sign of things to come saw Filppula skate through four Hurricanes on the way to the net by himself for a goal. Hamilton and Slavin were both victimized on that goal. The second goal saw the Isles pass the puck right through Faulk and de Haan to the back door for a quick goal. And along the way, the Hurricanes yielded the occasional odd man rush, player left open in the slot and other coverage issue. As I said after the Columbus loss, I really think the team misses Brett Pesce in games like this.
Inability to adjust
Thomas Greiss and the New York Islanders have the Hurricanes number this year. They have held the Hurricanes to a single goal in three games this season on the way to a 2-0-1 mark. The formula is not incredibly complicated, but it is incredibly effective. The Islanders do a good job of clogging up the neutral zone and forcing play to the outside in their defensive. Their style of play is like kryptonite for the Hurricanes who are prone to too willingly accepting a bunch of low-quality outside shots. After seeing the Isles twice already in less than two months, I would have hoped to see some adjustment in terms of how they attacked with the puck, but Saturday’s loss was more of the same arguably the worst of the three.
Heads up Caniacs. The week in total was a decent even if imperfect one with a 2-1-0 record and marks the second consecutive week with a 2-1 record.
Next up is another road game on Tuesday night in Montreal.