As unkind as the hockey gods are these days, the ice cream gods threw me a lifeline. Hidden in the back of the refrigerator was a healthy size serving of Goodberry’s mint chocolate chip ice cream – just enough to make it through another tough game recap. 🙂
The Hurricanes entered the game with their playoff life hanging by a string, and ending the game using a pair of scissors.
The match up was the second straight against a team expected to be in the 2018 playoffs but having already resigned themselves to the fact that it was not going to happen. Last Thursday, the Hurricanes defeated the Blackhawks by a narrow 3-2 margin to keep hopes alive as much as possible. On Monday, a depleted Rangers team that traded away a chunk of its roster and was starting an AHL goalie defeated the Hurricanes 6-3 (with two empty net goals) to push the Canes a step closer to the brink of playoff extinction.
The summary is very much a who’s who of the Carolina Hurricanes struggles throughout the 2017-18 season.
The Hurricanes completely dominated the game in terms of shots on goal but never really converted on the scoreboard do to the usual murky combination of lack of finishing and maybe just not getting as much quality as the quantity might have indicated.
Despite playing a #3 goalie, the other team was better in net with a couple ‘iffy’ goals against.
Some combination of defensive break downs and less than stellar goalie play generated plenty of offense for the opposing team despite the lopsided shot count statistics.
The Rangers struck first when a defensive zone faceoff loss very quickly led to a goal against. A clean faceoff win pitched the puck to the point. A shot wide of the net found Mats Zuccarello on a carom off the end boards to the other side of the net. Justin Faulk failed to cover him, Scott Darling was unable to get all the way to the post in time, making it 1-0 Rangers. But the Hurricanes countered when an ongoing bright spot in the combination of Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen found the back of the net. Teravainen finished a rebound in close on an Aho shot to score his 20th and join him in reaching that level. The period ended 1-1 in a fairly even first period that finished with a modest 10 to 9 shot advantage for the Hurricanes.
The second period was much of the Carolina Hurricanes season in a nutshell. The Canes dominated possession and poured on 18 shots to the Rangers 6 and seemed to deserve a winning fate for the period. But many of the shots on goal were ‘meh’ chances, the other team’s goalie was solid and the Hurricanes only managed to finish once when Lee Stempniak went hard to the net and banged in a Jeff Skinner rebound. But in between dominating play, the Hurricanes had a couple defensive letdowns to generate offense, and Darling let in one thathe would probably like to have back. Pavel Buchnevich abused Derek Ryan when he won a faceoff forward, walked right around Ryan to pick up the puck and fed the puck past Trevor van Riemsdyk who was also a little slow taking away the passing lane. Jimmy Vesey received and deposited a shot behind Darling on a goal that was just way too easy. After the Stempniak goal tied it up, one Darling would like back put the Rangers up 2 to 1 for the period and 3-2 for the game despite being mostly outplayed. The goal was a deflection which is tough on the goalie. But goalie 101 says to be square to the shot, be as big as possible and close up any holes. Had the deflection found a corner of the net up and over Darling’s shoulder, you just shrug and call it bad luck. But instead, the shot went right through his legs as he was slow to get set with the shot arriving.
Victor Rask scored midway through the third period to pull the Hurricanes even at 3-3, but then it was more of the same. A Derek Ryan turnover in neutral zone led to a rush the other way. When puck squibbled ahead of Jimmy Vesey, it looked like the turnover would prove harmless. Instead, Vesey beat Darling short side on another head shaker of a goal. The Rangers then added a couple empty-netters to make the final score 6-3.
Notes from the Carolina Hurricanes 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers
1) Scott Darling
It was another tough night. Whereas last Thursday two bad goals against in the first period were buried under a comeback, two decent periods of goaltending and a win, the hockey gods were not so generous on Monday night in New York City. The margin for error for an NHL goalie is small. A couple bad players are often a couple too many. And as has been too regularly the case, the goalie at the other end of the rink was better despite the fact that he was a no-name AHL call up making only his fourth NHL start.
The duo continues to be a bright spot notching another goal in the first period when Teravainen finished a rebound on an Aho shot.
3) Jeff Skinner
He continued an odd run that has seen him generating a decent number of chances and doing a good amount of the buzzing around that usually results in goals for him. He did collect an assist on Stempniak’s rebound goal but was held out of the goal column again despite having a couple chances and a few other near misses.
4) Derek Ryan
He had a tough game in terms of puck management and defense as detailed in the couple scoring plays that he was in the middle of. The first Vesey goal looked even worse when watching the replay. That was a big kid working over the little kid kind of play.
5) No Valentin Zykov
And to add insult to injury for the dwindling and beleaguered fan base that is still checking in, Valentin Zykov was returned to Charlotte during the game seemingly eliminating the chance that he would at least play on Tuesday.
6) Might a complete and total collapse actually be best?
Hitting a new level of morbidity in terms of seeking a silver lining, might a complete and utter collapse be the best possible thing down the stretch? Many long-time Canes fans increasingly feel like something just is not right when the story line continues to be same over and over. But the new owner is only a couple months into this. Perhaps a tough ending will help him realize that despite seemingly only being a winning streak or a goalie or a whatever away from success that just maybe the problems lurking under the surface are bigger.
Next up is quick turnaround and a match up on Tuesday against a good Boston Bruins team that is resting in Raleigh while the Hurricanes fly home.