After two strong outings and a 1-0-1 record by Curtis McElhinney to start the week, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour turned to backup Petr Mrazek for his first start since the demotion of Scott Darling and for the first time since November 2 due to injury.
Mrazek was sharp and solid out of the gate. A back and forth first period saw a back and forth game net a good number of medium to high-end scoring chances for both teams. But the goalies were the story early. The period finished with the Kings holding a small 13 to 12 advantage for shots, but a scoreless tie due to strong goaltending.
Whereas the first period had both goalies leading the way, the second period in my opinion was more just two teams struggling offensively. The game was sluggish and mostly lacked dynamic play. The goalies were perfect again the second period, but I thought the story was more ineptness on offense. The Hurricanes surrendered three power plays in the second period but were not overly tested in killing them off. Especially for Caniacs pushing past midnight on the East Coast, the second period was a sluggish one.
The third period was more of the same grinding along mostly in ugly fashion. The turning point in the game was 1:31 of 5-on-3 power play time for the Hurricanes. In disheartening fashion, the Hurricanes just dialed up more of ‘let’s try even harder to beat the goalie’ without any substantive screen parked in front of Quick. When Aho half-whiffed on the best chance and the 5-on-3 ended scoreless, one had to figure that the hockey gods had what they needed to make a final decision on the outcome. Sure enough, in the waning minutes, Brock McGinn lost track of Alec Martinez streaking in from the point. That plus an empty-netter resulted in a 2-0 loss.
Player and other notes
1) Petr Mrazek
His play was quite encouraging. I am on record as being skeptical of McElhinney’s ability to log a full starter workload. To be clear, McElhinney’s limited ice time in recent years was a function of role not of him necessarily being unable to play more. But still, the odds of a 35-year old suddenly playing two or three times as many games with the same results seems unlikely. Enter Mrazek. If he can play, it becomes much easier to spread the goalie workload and make sure McElhinney stays fresh. So in that regard, Sunday’s game as a big one for Mrazek and the team’s goalie situation. He deserved better and should feel good coming out of the game despite the outcome.
2) Need more ugly goals
It is becoming increasingly clear that the team is light on pure scoring options. As such, it becomes even more critical to generate as much as possible from secondary sources. What concerns me most about the Hurricanes scoring woes right now is the propensity to just try harder to beat the goalie. It did not work against John Gibson. The only goal was an odd Svechnikov shot that seemed to fool Gibson through traffic. The same was true against Jonathan Quick on Sunday. The Hurricanes desperately need to fight for more ugly goals. Get the puck to the point and send two bodies to the net. Park someone in front of the goalie on the power play and tell that player that he is not allowed to try to score by moving to the side to try to tip shots. Just generally send more bodies to the crease whenever possible in case the puck happens to arrive.
3) Victor Rask
His all-around play has come along nicely since his return to the lineup. He is back to being solid in terms of decision-making and coverage. With the team so desperately seeking scoring right now, his play needs to come with a bit more scoring too, but the base of his game is on target.
4) TSA line
I voted in favor of the TSA line short-term but not in the long-term with Micheal out of the lineup. That line did not do much in Friday’s overtime loss. The trio was somewhat better as the game wore on Sunday. But there are a couple problems. First is that Aho seems to be just a bit off as a finisher right now. He somehow missed half of an open net early in the game and half-whiffed on what would have been a good chance during the 5-on-3. On Friday, it was Staal who seemed to get the lion’s share of the scoring chances, but he just is not a finisher. Long story short, the Hurricanes scoring line now minus Ferland is sputtering pretty much the same as the rest of the lineup.
5) Missed opportunity 5-on-3
The 1:31 of 5-on-3 power play time midway through the third period was a golden opportunity to score a single goal that had a chance to hold up for a win. The 5-on-3 was disappointing in that the team again seemed content to play ‘let’s try even harder to beat the goalie’ instead of parking someone in front of Quick and trying to score an ugly one.
6) Scoring really costing points right now
With just two goals in regulation, the Hurricanes would have four points in their last two games (eliminating the Kings’ empty-netter). Instead, the Hurricanes have only a single point.
Next up for the Hurricanes is outing two out of three in California in San Jose on Wednesday.
I sure am glad I didn’t stay up for that one.
Does that name Valentin Zykov ring a bell? C’mon gang. Sure he is not going to be a ballerina on skates. He will not be the fastest guy on the ice. But he will establish a presence in the goal crease. And aside from Ferman and Martinook, he won’t be crowding out any Canes. And he knows how to score. BRING BACK TAZ!
Z, for some reason we like to give away the things we need. I know buffalo is happy about that as well.
Zykov is gone? Wow! Let’s bring up another big body who doesn’t mind being beat up in the crease.
Do we have anyone? Gauthier?I like him a lot.
The Cult of Hockey in the Edmonton Journal say the Zykov has traits that are not in abundance on the Oilers: Heavy play in and around the blue paint and finishing from in close.
Is Zykov going to be another Skinner? Oh yes. Zykov can’t skate and Skinner doesn’t play well with others. Skinner also has no defensive game. People who have been saying these things don’t know what they are talking about. I am willing to bet that there are those who would say that Mrazek was less than perfect last night. Hint: You don’t win hockey games when you don’t score any goals.
My comment on last night’s game is: Boy! Do we ever miss Ferland and Zykov.
I am not at all surprised about how last night’s game went down. As I mentioned in your “what I’m looking for” post, our lines are simply not configured with offense in mind – two disruption line (Rask and Bishop), a possession line (Staal with our two scorers apparently being wasted on his wings), and a rookie line – as both Wallmark and Svech struggle to learn how to score against NHL goalies. Meanwhile, our blue line continues to fail to produce – and some of that has to be the lack of net-front presence. And it means the team lets down Mrazek on what was an excellent game by him.
Can’t cry about Zykov’s departure – RBA was misusing him and not letting Z play in his wheelhouse.
And let’s not even mention the failure of the blueline to show up offensively, again.
As much as I’m not a fan of Staal in the middle of Aho and Teravainen, the latter two need to make some effort to get in between the dots. Teravainen has always had this issue, but Aho has become more of a perimeter player over the past few weeks and his production shows it.
They are both playing very tentative. Last year Turbo, once he started scoring goals, said the coaching staff told him to shoot more. Note to current coaching staff, “Tell Turbo that he needs to shoot more and that it is okay if he does.” Aho is definitely off – not succeeding at center after the early season success there seems to have gotten into his head, perhaps?
We sent 30+ goal scorer away from a team that was already light on scoring ability for virtually nothing. Gee, I can’t understand why we are having a problem scoring. We need ugly goals, not finesse plays. Oh wait. We sent our best opportunity for an ugly goal scorer away for nothing. I know what the problem is. If a player scores over 30 goals in our organization it’s a sign of incompetence and not being able to fit in with our other pluggers. Give me a break. Are we really this dumb?
There are two possible answers to that.
1. It’s more complicated than that (add a bunch of excuses, some of those may be valid).
I’m stuck on #2, though I much prefer a list of legitimate reasons that I can believe in.
I see systematic problems that haven’t changed when tweaking the pool of players, that points to management and coaching.
The owner is new, the head coach has never had a head coaching position, the GM’s previous team was shipped off to Canada (again, we can find a list of excuses, some of them valid, or we can say that people should be judged on performance, and he was unable to build a franchise hockey team in a much larger metropolis than Raleigh).
The only way to silence the naysayers is to start winning and showing progress or have a plan for truly fixing the problems. I don’t see either happening right now.
I just see players that could be part of the solution given away to be the solution for other teams.
Both decisions were driven by RBA – he apparently didn’t think Skinner fit in and made that known to the new owner last year and he couldn’t figure out how to play Zykov so that he could succeed and, with his success, help the team succeed. Unbelievable that management actually decided to waive Zykov but if RBA didn’t want to use him effectively then at least he is in a place where he stands a better chance of making his mark.
Laying all of this on Brind’Amour? Agenda much? I think I remember Jordan Staal talking last year about players that weren’t on the same page with the team. Ever consider that Skinner may have wanted out? Do you really think Dundon would have traded away a high end player for peanuts just because Brind’Amour told him to? I don’t. Way more going on there that we don’t know about. Unfortunate.
As far as Zykov goes the proof will be in his performance away from the Canes.
Not “all” of it – but much of it, sure. And you shouldn’t be so dismissive of it either. TD and RBA have had a real bromance and RBA had TD’s ear since shortly after the change in ownership. If RBA wanted Skinner on the team, then Skinner would have stayed on the team. Skinner certainly didn’t force a trade – it seemed like quite the opposite, actually. But, to repeat myself, in spite of whatever undercurrents there might have been fundamentally if RBA wanted Skinner, Skinner would not have been traded.
As fo Zykov, he never got the opportunity from RBA that Peters gave him, and he was never put in a position to succeed. That definitely falls on the coach. Right now we have Z’s succcess in the AHL, his success last year with the Canes, and even Vellucci’s disbelief that we have waived him = and Vellucci knows more about Zykov than any of us.-
I am not saying Brind’Amour wanted Skinner. I doubt he did. He may have had very good reasons not to want him. What suggests that Skinner wanted to stay? He never said a word. Nothing. He got what he wanted. Skinner wasn’t playing team hockey here. Glad he is happy and playing team hockey in Buffalo. No way Dundon basically gives away an asset without good reason. He’s a money first guy.
As far as Zykov goes he will now get a chance to prove it. His success in the AHL means squat. Go to Hockeydb. Look at the AHL and their leading scorers over the last 5 years. The last time a real NHL scorer was on that list was 2012-13. Tyler Johnson and Nino Niederreiter. Since then it’s a list of not much. Vellucci also was effusive with praise of Morgan Geekie in his NHL interview. Said he had a “presence.” Kid has one assist in 11 games since. I have no idea why everyone is so jacked about a lifetime junior coach who came in third and won one playoff series in the AHL with a strong team.
The high-end AHL scorers who failed in the NHL were all snipers – remember we had Boychuk and Terry a few years back? Saarela will probably never make it – he’s a sniper. But that is not Zykov’s game. He had his “office” in the crease – that is where he scored in the AHL and where he scored last year for Peters’ squad. Hopefully Hitchcock knows what he has with Zykov and doesn’t try to make him something other than what he is right away.
Oh, if that is the fullness of your understanding of Vellucci, to quote powerless on another matter, it is “foolish and very wrong”.
Well, then…how about some examples of those like Zykov that made it? Tyler Johnson is certainly a sniper type.
Sorry I misunderstand a guy who was a career Karmanos employee, has zero NHL experience and has one year of AHL experience.
Nothing like taking my words and making them something else. Not once did I try to imply that all successful AHL snipers fail in the NHL. I was offering a counterpoint to your comment about AHL scorers not making it to the NHL. Most leading scorers in the AHL are snipers and, as you point out, most leading scorers in the AHL don’t cut it in the NHL. Ergo, most top AHL snipers don’t make it in the NHL. But that is all moot when it comes to Zykov. You can’t extrapolate the failure/success rate of a player scoring big in front of the net in the AHL with high-scoring AHL snipers.
Anyway, in his limited audition last season in the NHL he was actually quite successful.
I wasn’t trying to twist your words. I see zero AHL top scorers in the past several years moving on to do the same in the NHL. I get Zykov isn’t a sniper. Are none of the top scorers in the past several years guys that go to the net? I find that difficult to believe. I have presented some evidence. I am asking you do the same. Actually, Neiderreiter is more of a power forward for example. Without some kind of example it’s just “because I say so.”
Hey, if Edmonton puts Zykov with McDavid he will do very well. His trial last season did similar with the Canes. A lot of AHL guys will look good playing with the two best offensive players on an NHL team.
FWIW, McDavid out sick and Zykov scratched for Edmonton tonight.
Actually not worth much – it was in the news a couple of days ago. Zykov is a nonroster player until he clears some immigration and visa issues to get the right to work in Canada. He is expected to join the tean on Friday. You have to stay up with current affairs! 😀
z and skinner, why do we through away the things we need. For nothing. I don’t get it.
I don’t know that Roddy made the decision on Skinner. I tend to think Dundon made it. But with Skinner, it wasn’t as simple as it seemed. For years the Skinny One was mis-used and abused. Never given a chance to work with a center of Jack Eichel’s caliber he was forced to compensate by learning to be effective without help from a teammate. Never given any protection against bullies, he suffered at least four concussions. He also developed a rather negative overall attitude. He was a loose cannon on the ice with his short-fused temper. He was, by several accounts, a locker room cancer.
Could he have been saved by Roddy? Could the Canes have regained his trust? Doubtful. As the country song says, too much, too little, too late.
Buffalo got a real bargain. But did they? With 4 concussions under his belt, will the next end his career? It likely will. When will that happen? Who knows. Buffalo hopes he will go for a while before that comes to pass. Pominville is charged with the assignment to see that Skinny lasts a while. I hope he does. But to place blame on Roddy for losing Skinner is foolish and very wrong.