With the recent run of Hurricanes struggles coming exclusively with 10pm or later start times, there is quite literally no rest for the weary as a Carolina Hurricanes fan right now.
The latest episode featured a 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in front of an outstanding night for their goalie John Gibson.
The game started fortuitously enough with Justin Williams going to the front of the net and scoring early when he tipped a Trevor van Riemsdyk shot past Gibson. Unfortunately, that would be the end of the Hurricanes scoring.
The loss featured many common elements of other losses. The game in total was not horrible. Be it because of the opposing goaltending (which was a legitimate factor on Monday night), lack of finishing or a lack of time spent in the crease area, the Hurricanes came up short scoring-wise.
The game was not the defensive train wreck of last Thursday’s collapse in San Jose, but it did feature a handful of ‘big oopses’ that played heavily in the outcome. The first goal occurred when Justin Faulk tried to step up at the defensive blue line but whiffed giving Anaheim a 2-on-1 opportunity. Then Darling had the puck trickle through him. Finally, the puck was tapped home by a player who got behind Faulk on the way to the net. The second goal was just plain unfortunate when Haydn Fleury had some combination of losing his balance and mishandling the puck at center ice and more or less handed the puck off for an Anaheim breakaway and goal.
When the Ducks beat a stick-less Scott Darling to make it 3-1 in the third period, the Canes figured to then go quietly go into the night. But to the team’s credit, the Hurricanes continued to show a never say die attitude and played to the final buzzer. John Gibson was absolutely phenomenal in a third period that could have netted multiple goals for the Hurricanes. Victor Rask did get the Hurricanes back to 3-2 with a gritty goal near the crease, but that was how the game would finish.
Now back at .500 and win-less with an 0-2-2 mark on the current road trip, consolation prizes count for very little.
Notes from the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 to the Anaheim Ducks
Like the overtime loss to the Kings on Saturday, Monday’s loss was not all bad. Aside from a seeming inability to push anything into the win column right now, the Hurricanes played a decent even if not great game.
Victor Rask: He has now scored goals in three consecutive games, and each and every one of those goals has been a timely one when the team really, really needed one.
Elias Lindholm: His game is trending in the right direction. He was phenomenal in the third period. Except for Gibson’s stellar play, Lindholm could have had a goal or even two in the third period.
Sticking with it: For whatever negatives there are with the Hurricanes right now, one cannot at all say that the teams has quit. The team’s compete level has been very good in the third period of consecutive games with two-goal deficits.
Slavin/Pesce: After hitting a rough patch of their own a little while back, the Hurricanes top defenders have righted the ship. They have yet to convert their strong play into an offensive boost, but they have been much quieter defensively (in a good way) in the past few games.
Forcing Francis’ hand: Unless things take an abrupt turn, I think we are reaching the point where Francis has to do something. I do not expect him to make a trade. The team’s issues right now are multiple and also a moving target, so I am not so sure a trade is the answer other than to try to shake things up. But if Francis has a pulse on this team right now, I think he will realize that the end of this road trip is time to do something. I hollered for Lucas Wallmark and possibly someone else from Charlotte awhile back, but the Hurricanes then found a win streak. I think an AHL call up or two could quickly be coming back into the picture.
No man’s land
With the wild gyrations in terms of style of play right now, I think the Hurricanes are in no man’s land. The Hurricanes have buttoned things down a bit more in the past few games. The result has generally been tighter play, but also lower shot totals for both teams. The defensive part of this is good, but the challenge is that the margin for error becomes even smaller as the scoring chances decrease. And right now, the Hurricanes are not faring well in terms of errors right now. As much as the Hurricanes were able to click off shifts without incident on Monday night, the game still featured a handful of intermittent break downs that all seem to find the net behind the Canes goalie right now. Then the team looked better offensively when it opened things up a bit and pushed in the third period. Right now, finding a happy medium that includes both sound defense and a push offensively seems elusive.
Teuvo Teravainen and Jordan Staal
After a run of phenomenal hockey, the trio of Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen have all slowed a bit. Aho continues to be in the mix with a high volume of scoring chances and/or plays with the puck around the net. I think his game is still pretty close to the level it was at during the run. But Teravainen and Staal have definitely cooled. Staal still brings the sound two-way play that is his foundation, but he has not been a difference-maker offensively in awhile. He has only one goal and one assist in his past 12 games. After staking a claim to being ready to become an every-game top 6 scorer, Teravainen has only three assists and no goals in his last eight games. With the TSA line cooled off, the Hurricanes are back to scraping to find scoring in many games.
Next up for the Hurricanes is try #5 to collect a win on the ongoing six-game road trip. The schedule offers no mercy with a back-to-back against a surprisingly good Vegas Knights team on Tuesday night.