Writing this late after a long day, I will skip usual recap and jump straight to other comments on the Canes 4-2 loss to the Panthers on Saturday night.
If it turned into a loss, Saturday’s game had a number of story lines leading up to the game that figured to be part of the losing formula.
It’s not what you think
The entered the game with a recent propensity to take far too many penalties.
The game presented the tough challenge of playing the first home game after an extended road trip.
With the Hurricanes losing 4-2, one might figure that one or both of these played a role in the loss. And based on that bias entering the game, I see a number of people assuming that one or both of those occurred in Saturday’s loss.
But in actuality neither was the case.
The Canes started strong, and it was the Panthers who had to hold on for dear life early. In addition, the Hurricanes did a very good job of maintaining that high level of play throughout the game.
So though it might have been expected at the start, I do not see how one could credit this loss to being flat in the first game back after a road game.
As far as the bias that the Canes might lose because of taking too many penalties, that also was not the case. The Canes gave up only three power play chances and one of those was the skirmish that the referees mishandled. But taking two, maybe three penalties is not a horrible number for a game. No doubt, allowing two goals on the penalty kill played a significant role in the outcome. But that is an issue with penalty kill proficiency not how many penalties were taken.
Again, the bias that many entered the game with from watching recent Hurricanes is not what drove the result on Saturday. The team did not struggle with taking too many penalties.
So what was it then?
In my opinion, two things played most significantly in the loss. First, the Hurricanes did legitimately catch some bad luck. They out-shot, out-chanced and out-most everything elsed the Panthers but just did not seem to catch any breaks early on.
Second, special teams finally had a negateinive night giving up two goals in only three power play attempts for the Panthers. After an extended run of nearly perfect penalty killing, I would write this up simply as being overdue.
Another interest element is the Hurricanes catching yet another hot goalie. No doubt Florida netminder Chris Driedger was good, but I really think the bigger story is about the Hurricanes leaving the door open for hot goalies to steal the show.
This team just is not showing a nose for the net and desire to battle at the top of the crease to score ugly goals. The Hurricanes have faced a number of hot goalies in recent games. For about a decade, the Hurricanes seemed to face many more than their fair share of hot goalies in games when they out-shot the opponent by a wide margin but still lost. Certainly the goalies deserve some credit, but when teams do not put bodies to the front of the net and work hard to create ugly goals, they leave the door cracked open for a hot goalie to steal a game. Right now, this team is not making it hard enough on the opposing goalie.
I am claiming a holiday pass and skipping the usual player notes, but feel free to chime in with your own in the comments.