Times continue to be tough for the team and the part of the fan base that is so loyal as to stay on the ship even as it is sinking in a horrible way for the 2017-18 season.
There was brief reprieve with a road win on Sunday, but the past three trips to PNC Arena have been nothing short of brutal, and the team has now lost four straight and seven out of the last eight at home.
The scene has become such a train wreck that this point that sorting through individual details mostly seems to miss the point.
I am on record from one week ago after the abysmal loss to the Bruins as saying that the season was over and that the time was now to cut ties with Bill Peters with the aim of keeping the remainder of the season from sucking energy from the team going forward. I still think that is the best path forward, though the situation is complicated by the bigger picture.
Tom Dundon is in a really tough spot right now. It could not be more obvious that Peters has lost this team, but with no @NHLCanes GM & building rumblings/impression that Dundon is too hands on, firing Peters is another step in that direction.
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) March 21, 2018
As for the game on Tuesday, at a high level the game was a loosely played game by two non-playoff teams who largely showed why they were in the non-playoff part of the NHL standings. Break downs and loose plays at least offered sugary entertainment in the form of goal scoring if you were willing to sacrifice level of play and also did not cared which team was scoring most.
In bullet form, here are some observations:
Justin Faulk and Klas Dahlbeck
Klas Dahlbeck is not a top 4 defenseman. That likely is not a surprise. Justin Faulk also is not a top 4 defenseman right now probably by roughly the same margin. That is a problem. The duo was absolutely brutal in Tuesday’s loss. An early goal saw Dahlbeck/Faulk fail twice to clear the defensive zone, get caught on the ice tired and then get beaten. The Draisaitl goal highlighted the lack of mobility. A puck carrier carried the puck off the wall and across the top of the face-off circles unobstructed by Faulk. Faulk actually assisted on one goal on a tough break off an official’s skate. The carom was a bad break, but Faulk’s decision to backhand a puck softly across the front of the net was iffy at best, and then the goal happened when his man beat him to the front of the net for an easy tap in. The Auvitu goal off the rush started with a bad Justin Williams’ turnover and Williams then unable to catch the eventual goal scorer from behind, but the middle part of the play saw both Faulk and Dahlbeck just keep backing up such that Draisaitl had a ton of room to enter the offensive zone and then find a passing lane right through the middle of the ice. Faulk and Dahlbeck were both minus 4 on the night.
If one was given an assignment to dream up the most bizarre version of horrible for Darling right now, I am not sure one could beat the reality. The team in front of Darling is absolutely horrible defensively on most nights right now which helps exactly none in terms of providing a somewhat predictable situation to try to build his game. But he just continues to offer an incredible volume of head scratchers as well. In the first period alone, Darling had a goal shot literally off his back and in, and he somehow kicked a puck that was underneath him into his own net. The second period featured two goals, one from a really tough angle, where Darling was off his angle. Put more simply, the team is not helping him at all, but to call Darling’s play anything other than poor right now, just is not accurate.
Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen
Amidst the smoldering flames, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen mostly just continue to churn forward in a good way. Sebastian Aho used the space in front of him to skate into a pinpoint blast for a power play goal. In the second period, Aho made a nifty play to put the puck on Teravainen’s stick in close. Without much room, he quickly fired and scored. When the process of trying to figure out the roster for 2018-19 begins, the team at least has two-thirds of a top scoring line in place.
He played a healthy 15:05 with 1:25 of power play ice time in his 2017-18 debut. He did not so much stand out in a noticeably positive way but at the same time did not stand out negatively either. On a night when there was a bunch of bad going around, I guess the ‘half full’ interpretation could be positive.
9!!! more games
While acknowledging that there are extenuating circumstances to the situation, I continue to think that what’s left is too long to just ride it out without making a strong statement that things are broken.
Next up is more home hockey (Oh joy!) on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.