And then it was seven — seven straight losses to Metropolitan Division teams further down the standings.
Recap for the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers
On Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, the Hurricanes sputtered mightily out of the gate. The Canes were two steps slow defending, chasing down loose pucks and most everything else early in the game. The result was two penalties and mostly spending a bunch of time chasing the puck. Mika Zibanejad scored a power play goal 2:54 into the game, and Brendan Smith blew a slap shot past Petr Mrazek only 1:18 later. The Hurricanes were down 2-0 before they even found the ignition switch. The shot total was oddly even, but not measured in the basic statistics was the fact that the Hurricanes were a step slow, sloppy with the puck and generally trying to play their way up to speed. With Petr Mrazek seemingly fighting it a bit too in terms of tracking the puck, the first period ended with Adam Fox scoring on a late deflection to stake the Rangers to a 3-0 lead.
The Hurricanes picked up the pace a bit in the second period, but the effort was still sloppy. The Canes just seemed a step off trying to connect the dots passing the puck in transition and in the offensive zone. But late in the second period, the Hurricanes gained some life when Ryan Dzingel tipped a Dougie Hamilton point shot past Henrik Lundqvist to get the Hurricanes on the board. Warren Foegele scored while diving across the crease and managed to score a second Canes goal. Suddenly with just over four minutes remaining in the second period, the Canes had found their way into the hockey game. The team would exit the second period with 16 to 9 shot advantage for the period, a head of steam and only a 3-2 deficit.
The Hurricanes picked up where they left off in the third period having the upper hand for most of the period. But despite out-shooting the Rangers by a 17 to 5 margin and having multiple chances some combination of Lundqvist and bad luck kept the puck out of the net and sent the Hurricanes to a disappoint 3-2 regulation loss.
Player and other notes
1) Warren Foegele
On a night when the team was flat, Warren Foegele was the team’s best player. He seemed to have the step that everyone else was missing and played with a determination and nose for the puck. In only 13:09 of ice time, Foegele collected a goal, eight other shots on goal and a a couple other good chances.
2) The fun trio
It is probably a random coincidence, but the fun trio of Warren Foegele, Dougie Hamilton and Andrei Svechnikov tallied almost half of the team’s 43 shots with 21 combined shots.
3) Issues defending in their own end
Through about half of the game, the Hurricanes struggled mightily defending in their own end. On the surface, it seems like the team is inconsistent in terms of marking players and defending the puck. Increasingly, I think it is very simply a function of whether the Hurricanes can minimize the amount of defense required either by establishing the forecheck or playing a strong puck possession game. On Wednesday, the forecheck never really launched, and the Hurricanes struggled moving the puck stick to stick. The result at least early was the need to defend a bunch and it did not go well.
4) Petr Mrazek
Mrazek continued his up and down play. Like the team in front of him, he played better as the game wore on, but when the team desperately needed him to hold the fort while it climbed into the game, he just did not have it either.
5) Bit more urgency on Friday
With a loss to start the holiday weekend, Friday’s home match up against the Predators. Following that are road games against Tampa Bay and Boston. With two tough match ups to follow, a quick rebound on Friday would be more than just collecting two points.
Next up is that home match up against the Nashville Predators on Friday.