Hey all, Tuesday’s horribly disappointing loss arguably represents the greatest opportunity to be frustrated since the Canes and Coffee comments picked up steam. What a day to be alive at Canes and Coffee, am I right? 🙂 With that comes to opportunity for readers and fellow Canes fans to be nasty to each other or instead have great debates in a true ‘we are in this together even if we disagree on things’ neighborhood coffee shop kind of way. Let’s stay on the right side of being respectful to each other.
In addition, there is not a need to candy coat a player or team management’s performance. It is fine to say that they did poorly, that they should be traded or whatever else. That falls under evaluating and offering an opinion on their performance which is for better or worse within the realm of their jobs. That said, it is never okay to take shots at players or staff personnel personally. Please, let’s stay on the right side of that line on a day when no doubt there will be tough evaluations of individual performances and suggestions for changes in personnel.
On to wreckage
Deja vu and/or just painful reinforcement
I said before the run of 11 out of 12 games at home during the front of part of February that the favorable stretch of schedule would be make or break time for the 2017-18 season. I set a target of 9-3 for that stretch of 12 games. The 5-5-2 mark that followed did not end playoff hopes for the 2017-18 season, but for me it did significantly decrease the probability that the team would find the higher gear necessary. The end of that stretch was in the middle of a six-game losing streak (0-4-2) that reinforced my initial thoughts. Then in a game that the team really needed come off a tough but decently-played home loss to Winnipeg, the Hurricanes fell absolutely flat in a 6-2 loss. The game saw the Hurricanes implode for four goals against in the span of only 3:51 to start the second period.
After that loss I wrote:
What stood out most to me was the completely lifeless reaction to a slow start and then an even worse start to the second period. As I said on Twitter, the season has been trending negatively since the down stretch for the home stretch in mid-February but based on Tuesday’s performance and the lack of reaction, I will be shocked if Tuesday’s loss does not prove to be capitulation day for the 2017-18 season.
But then on Tuesday, the Hurricanes somehow trumped that debilitating loss, rubbed salt in the wounds of those who had already given up the 2017-18 and made it abundantly clear to anyone still clinging to hope that the 2017-18 season was over.
For those who were away from Canes hockey on Tuesday, congratulations! You picked an incredibly good day to be away. If you already endured it live on Tuesday, please skip down. No one should go through it twice.
On Tuesday, the Hurricanes played a ‘meh’ first period but almost emerged from the period tied. A Brad Marchand goalie with 11 seconds remaining in the period netted the Bruins a 1-0 lead, but the Hurricanes were obviously still in the game. The second period featured a tremendous period of hockey by the Hurricanes and even some scoring. The often seen shot count domination of 18 to 6 actually resulted in score board success too. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each netted a goal on the power play. And Batman and Robin (Justin Williams and Brock McGinn) netted another when Williams scored an effort goal lunging to tap a puck out of the crease and into the net. When Brock McGinn scored a shorthanded goal early in the third period, the Hurricanes seemed to be on their way.
The Hurricanes seemed to take their collective feet off the gas after that, but with a three-goal lead, limping to the finish line and a victory seemed possible as the midway point of the third period neared.
Trumping the implosion in Minnesota a week earlier, the Hurricanes somehow gave up three goals in the span of only 1:17. Then when a late penalty by Justin Faulk sent the Bruins to the power play with the score tied at 4-4, one could just feel it coming. And sure enough it did. The Bruins scored on the power play and then added an empty-netter for good measure.
Best guess is that the wreckage will still be smoldering when people arrive for work on Wednesday morning, but once the major explosions had subsided, the Bruins had scored five times in the third period to convert a 4-1 deficit into a 6-4 win.
More so than the third period itself which is no doubt etched on Canes fans’ minds, the lasting image for those who could bare more when they arrived home could be the post-game interviews by Justin Williams and Justin Faulk. Both legitimately struggled to even comment or find words for the debacle despite seemingly trying. Justin Williams without exaggeration looked like he was fighting to hold back tears, and Justin Faulk looked pretty similar.
As I said on Twitter afterward:
#CanesCoaster officially crashes. There's just not enough ice cream for this kind of stuff.
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) March 14, 2018
Respecting and acknowledging the elephant…
I have my usual set of scribbled notes with details, and if forced, could do the normal recap and notes that breaks down individual plays, players and other specifics of the game. But I think especially for anyone who did not witness the game, this would be a massive disservice to the real story right now.
This team is unmistakably 100 percent lost right now. It just is.
How we got here, who is to blame for what and how to fix it are complex with multiple angles, opinions and discussions to be had.
But very clearly in my eyes anyway, we have reached the point where it is not a story about a team that failed in 2017-18 or was not good enough in 2017-18. This is a story about a team that broken in a bigger way.
Three silver linings
While mostly respecting the elephant, I will offer two silver linings from Tuesday’s debacle and the state of the team in general.
1) Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen
Buried beneath Tuesday’s wreckage was a goal each for Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Each also assisted on the other’s goal. The duo that is 20 and 23 years old respectively has grown to become two-thirds of legitimate first scoring line that the team has not had in years. I continue to believe that the third part will likely need to come from outside the current roster, but two-thirds is a great starting point.
2) Unmistakable, while painful, might be best
If this team is in fact broken (which it is), maybe best is to leave absolutely no doubt. A mid-March surge similar to 2016-17 could push the team to within a few points of a playoff berth and possibly suggest that the team continues to be close. That has the potential to suggest that minor tinkering personnel-wise could be enough. Especially with a new owner who is only a couple months deep in the situation, blatantly obvious and unmistakable could be good in terms of driving changes that are not just about the roster or roster weaknesses.
While I do think there is an element of that too, the bigger thing is that the the team needs a dramatic change in attitude, leadership, mentality, confidence and/or something else that lies beneath the surface and is not measured in statistics.
3) The necessary “jolt”
Last summer, I campaigned for Justin Williams to be named the captain over long-timers including Jordan Staal, Justin Faulk and Jeff Skinner. Many who disagreed talked about earning it, upsetting people, ruffling feathers or whatever else with the Justin Williams being brand new to the team and the other candidates having paid dues and maybe deserving it. The “jolt” as I called it that Justin Williams being named captain was actually a huge part of why I wanted to go that direction. I believed that the team needed some kind of shock to the entire system, a “jolt” if you will, to find the next higher gear necessary to make the playoffs. Interestingly, regardless of what happens next personnel-wise at the coaching or player ranks, I actually think that Tuesday’s loss on the back of what has preceded it could in itself prove to be a needed jolt. I guess the question at this point is whether the jolt will shock the team alive or completely put it into a cathartic state.
In showing my consistency to offering a Daily Cup of Joe, I am putting my “path forward from here” into a separate article. The latest “random thoughts” article that I wrote at lunchtime would be completely disrespecting the elephant if posted for Wednesday morning.