With Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes will play their last game of 2018 needing a win to stay out of the basement of the Metropolitan Division. Entering the game, the Canes are in a three-way tie with New Jersey and Philadelphia who is Monday’s opponent.
Right now, the 2018-19 is in triage with need for a minor miracle to keep playoff hopes from completely perishing early again.
Ironically, the team actually has solid goaltending as a solid foundation to build on but is struggling so much in the scoring department that good goaltending outings are being wasted on a regular basis.
My watch points for the New Year’s Eve match up follows.
‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Philadelphia Flyers
1) Sebastian Aho
The positives are not many right now, but Sebastian Aho continues to be worth watching in a positive way on a nightly basis. He was held off the score sheet in Saturday’s loss but continued generating chances. He has eight goals and five assists in the past ten games and continues to be the team’s best player.
2) A Dougie Hamilton break through
It is no secret that his 2018-19 season has not gone as planned. He is one of a few players who have the potential to significantly boost the offense if he can find a higher gear. My game recap from Saturday liked Hamilton’s edgy, physical play and propensity to shoot the puck whenever given the chance. I think he is playing the right way and doing the right things to bust out of his funk. On Monday, I will be watching to see if Hamilton can convert his increased activity level into an upward trajectory for his 2018-19 season.
3) Any kind of secondary scoring
Past Aho and whoever he is able to take with him, the Hurricanes have had virtually nothing for offense for some time now. I will be watching eagerly to see if someone/anyone can step up and become a secondary scoring option.
4) The power play
The power play seemed to go from bad to worse in Saturday’s loss to the Devils. The team could not even enter and keep possession in the offensive zone let alone generate shots or scoring chances. Interestingly, after Brind’Amour iced a set of depth players to start a third period power play, the regular first power play unit finally seemed to catch a spark. They did not score, but they did at least generate quality scoring chances. On Monday, I will be watching for two things on the power play. First is to see if Brind’Amour makes any adjustments. Second is to see if there is any carry over from the one good power play shift in the third period on Saturday.
The puck drops at an early 6pm at PNC Arena.
I’m looking for some coaching that makes sense. For starters RBA can start by putting Ferland back on the first line with Aho and put McGinn back down on the third or 4th lines where he belongs. RBA can put Hamilton out on the first power play group and let the first group play more than 20-30 seconds. Virtually all the other teams in the league play their 1st power play group most of the power play. RBA can insist on someone playing in front of the net every shift and on the power play for sure.
“…need for a minor miracle…” Matt, congrats on the brave attempt to remove the funeral dirge pale surrounding this team at year end. The most optimism I can raise is the plan all along has been to add a year to the rebuild, assemble a fairly strong group of UFAs to sell at the deadline, pick earlier in every round than ever before, and prepare for the Seattle entry draft. Were that the case, the plan is coming together beautifully.
Well, here we are.
But where is that exactly?
There are some who have insisted all season that we are unchanged from previous seasons. But how can that be? We have a different owner, a different GM, a different coach, different players, and different problems.
There are those who blame the new owner. He is cheap, they say. He is an evil businessman who takes advantage of the poor, they say. How this is relevant to hockey is beyond me. Then we have those who blame the new GM. He destroyed the Atlanta franchise singlehandedly, they say. He can’t/won’t make a deal to bring in a savior scoring catalyst, they say. He blew it with Skinner, they say. He blew it with Dougie, Ferland, and Fox, they say. Then we have the coaching staff. Roddy and his staff are both too new and same ole same ole, at the same time. Roddy is incompetent and inexperienced, they say. And the players? Too much of the same old story, they say. Can’t score, they say.
When I start wanting to be negative about my team, I look around at the rest of the league to see what kind of problems other teams are having.
How is Buffalo doing? They were really bad in the recent past. They had a wholesale housecleaning last year. They had the number one pick this year. On paper, they looked pretty good. They had an unprecedented 10 game winning streak. This was followed by a 5 game losing streak. Now, things are so-so. What’s the problem? It can’t be Roddy-s fault. Can it?
Edmonton had reasonable expectations for this season. Those expectations were not met early on. Edmonton decided to try a new coach. Hitchcock has a reputation for being a “turn things around” coach. He did that. Edmonton started winning. In a weak division, they rose to playoff contention. Then, they stopped winning. Why? Was it Don Waddell’s fault? Maybe the fault of the cheap and evil Tom Dundon? I don’t think so.
So what is our problem? Unique it is not. Simple and easy to solve, it is not.
Same as before? It is not.
Yes, we lost Steve Smith. Yet, our pk is ranked number 4 in the NHL. Can’t score? C’mon gang. Our boys have demonstrated amply this year that we can score. PP? We have seen that our PP can score. So why aren’t we scoring? The NHL is over 100 years old. The game of hockey is older than that. This might come as news to some of us, but ours is not a problem which is peculiar to our beloved Canes.
From what I can see, Roddy and his crew (which includes Willy) are trying everything I can think of and then some. Although they haven’t tried to bring in some more grit.
What about bringing in a savior scoring catalyst? To me, that means grit. To most on this site, it means undersized, soft, fast scorers. Matt Duchene? He hasn’t done much to improve the performance of his teammates. Dougie Hamilton? Admit it. We all loved that deal at first. We knew that he was soft and weak, but we knew he could score. C’mon gang. Most of us assumed he would hit the streets running setting a blistering scoring pace. And he hasn’t.
But Ferland did. And Ferland had immediate impact on his linemates. But then he got injured.
Svetch was supposed to be like some other draft picks who came right from the Juniors and flew like a big bird. He hasn’t, so far. Is there anyone out there who wants to write him off, yet?
What we are witnessing is the same problem every team in hockey faces to some degree. The problem is the human frailties of each player on the team that get in the way of consistent game-to-game performance.
Be patient. The Canes will figure it out. And when they do, it will be fun to watch.
Agree with most. I think Dundon is a great owner and refreshing to say the least. Waddell is a fine GM with experience. Rod is a leader by nature and that’s what every coach has to be (while I can’t speak for the players, feels like the entire league respects the guy). And you’re right in that the naysayers will look for any negative past or present, whether it’s Dundon’s business model, Waddell’s management style or Rod’s coaching resume.
The end result and what most gripe about (myself included) is that management was not able to make that extra deal or two to complete the offseason vision I think everyone had, fans included. That vision was to trade one of our D-surplus for offense and deal Skinner for picks (face it, he never meshed here and then he drove his trade clause to Buffalo = not GM’s fault). The only problem was management could not find a fair trading partner to complete the offensive piece.
But they still can.
Even if we are on the verge of another playoff-less year, we have a solid young core that is seasoning themselves for greater days ahead, and a minor league team that is killing it in CLT. An owner willing to make changes (even if that takes more time than desired with visiting fans filling the stands), a GM understanding and vocalizing the want to make changes (a far cry from GM’s past), and a coach who says it like it is (at least he’s honest). We stabilized goaltending, and most importantly, found our 1C in Aho who has proven himself.
How is Buffalo doing? 3rd in the Atlantic Conference. They also have 3 first round picks in this years draft. They have the second longest post season drought in the NHL, look likely to end same with a good young core and bright future. Where are we? Great defense set for the future. Workable goal tending with 2 UFAs doing their job. However, future in goal is an unknown. Offense is anemic and toothless. Lots of unproven youth. Coaching is at best a question mark, but easily changed in the future. 4 years ago we needed everything, now we only need offense. We will need patience to see how that works out.
You make some good points. I like the writeup. I would only make one suggestion. IMO you seem too concerned with any critical comments of the management of this team by us fans. I don’t know why. Management has produced 10 years of failure. Other teams are turning around their misfortunes in a much faster way than the Canes. Why? The answer is they are managed better. They do what it takes.
When it comes to fans being critical of players, I think you are right. IMO all of the players try to win every night. In hockey there is a myriad of reasons why players performance varies from game-to-game and season-to-season. As you elude to, better that us fans be supportive of our players and focus our player comments on how they can improve or be improved upon.