After a parking and traffic nightmare bad enough to launch a ‘never again’ mantra many years ago, the Canes played their first game at home during the North Carolina State Fair in many years. Probably helped a bit by rainy weather and enough who just stayed away as demonstrated by the ‘meh’ attendance, the traffic and parking were not that bad. But despite the results were not favorable with the Hurricanes losing their third straight by a 3-1 margin.
Most concerning was the plodding rainy Saturday afternoon pace. We did see worse occasionally in 2017-18, but this game was clearly a low point for the Rod Brind’Amour era in terms of playing an attacking game with pace that dictates style of play. I would go so far far as to say that the game was reminiscent of old school Canes losses that featured a sizable shot advantage that was a bit misleading in terms of creating and finishing high quality chances. On the other side of the ledger, the Avs picked their spots to selectively counter punch with a relatively low volume but fairly high quality of chances coupled with some finishing.
The game started okay with the Hurricanes playing even or better hockey out of the gate. A soft goal against that squeaked through Curtis McElhinney on the short side staked the Avalanche to a lead in the first period. The Hurricanes would finish the first period with an 11 to 7 shot advantage but minus the ability to overwhelm the opponent early as they have in other games.
The second period was a bit choppy early but saw the Hurricanes get back to mounting a shot advantage. Goalie Philipp Grubauer was solid spanning all three periods, and pulling from the past, the Hurricanes just could not find the back of the net. Along the way, the Avalanche scored a power play goal when his own pass caromed right back to him for a quick shot and goal.
The third period was more of the same. The Hurricanes piled on shots, but too many were medium or less quality, and true to form the Avs stars continued to capitalize on low volume but high quality chances when Nathan MacKinnon picked a corner and scored on a 2-on-1. The Hurricanes would push back after digging a 3-0 hole, but the Ferland goal was good only for extending his goal streak and Aho’s point streak and not really for getting the Canes back into the game.
Player and other notes
Ferland was arguably the biggest positive in the loss. The Ferland/Aho/Teravainen had a better night than the score sheet might indicate. Ferland did score late on an Aho pass, but they could have had a goal or two earlier. Ferland was stopped on a breakaway, and Aho had the puck poked off his stick at the last second on another partial breakaway. In addition to the score sheet stuff, Ferland showed a great feel for the status of the game. When the Canes were down a couple and fading a bit, Ferland had a shift where he laid two big hits and then found a fight for the second. Ideally, a push comes more naturally but when it just is not forthcoming, it is at least worth a try to try to spark the bench a bit.
For me, Teravainen’s start has not been as bad as some measures and reviews might indicate. That said, hockey is a results business and his have been modest thus far. His only goal is an empty-netter. He passed on at least three decent shooting opportunities, and none of the three resulted in better shots. With Aho in the center slot, Teravainen needs to play with the mentality that one of his objectives is to score 30 goals. That means having a bias to shoot the puck more.
The top of the roster
The Avalanche’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen came into the game red hot. The Hurricanes were unable to slow them, and that trio was the difference on the scoreboard tallying all three Avalanche goals. A common divider between the winning streak to start and the current losing streak is the fact that the first batch of teams generally lacked true top scoring lines and were more balanced whereas the last three losses have all come to teams that have top-end scorers that drive their success.
Still nothing on special teams
The special teams woes that have plagued the team all season were not, at least as far as results, cured over the three-day layoff. The Hurricanes power play which looks increasingly hesitant was ‘meh’ at best in going 0 for 5, and the Avalanche struck once going 1 for 4. The Hurricanes were minus yet again in terms of special teams which has become a recurring theme.
Going in the opposite direction of Teravainen who is maybe overthinking things a bit with the puck on his stick, Dougie Hamilton has been pumping shots at the net knowing he needs to break through. He had six shots on net on Saturday and seemed to looking to shoot whenever he could. Here is hoping it leads to a break through because with only four goals in the past three games the team has reached the point where it could use a couple more sources of offense.
The curse continues
The ongoing Arturs Irbe goalie curse that still no one is willing to believe continues to reincarnate itself in increasingly nasty forms. The latest creative twist actually sees the damage done in the opposing net where backup goalies are utterly dominating the Hurricanes early in 2018-19. Against a lot that includes Thomas Greiss (arguably a starter in more of a 1A/B situation), Alexandar Georgiev, Laurent Brossoit, Louis Domingue and Philipp Grubauer, the Hurricanes are 1-3-1. The opposing goalies have a combined .942 Save Percentage. What’s more, that includes a tough night in the only Canes win against Georgiev. The other three games feature a Goals Against Average barely north of 1.00 and a Save Percentage of .970.
How much more must we endure before someone breaks down and wears the bucket style Jofa helmet to put this curse in the past?
Next up is a Monday road match up against a Detroit Red Wings team that has yet to win. ‘Must win’ is never the case in October, but whatever the October maximum is for needing a win, I think the Hurricanes have reached it.