In my game preview and also my Daily Cup of Joe for Tuesday, I asserted that the next stretch of games could be critical for the Hurricanes 2018-19 season. As such, Tuesday’s game was a big one kicking off a stretch of five out of six games at home.
After a fun win over the Maple Leafs during Thanksgiving week, Tuesday featured a reversal of fortune with a 4-1 loss.
The game started with the Hurricanes still seemingly recovering from the trip out West last week. Toronto dominated puck possession, shots and most everything else early in Tuesday’s contest. The shot total was 14 to 3 late in the first period when the Hurricanes had four minutes of power play time and closed the gap slightly. The Hurricanes were sloppy with the puck moving up the ice such that they regularly returned it to Toronto and spent chunks of the period hemmed in their own end. Petr Mrazek stopped 14 of 15 shots and made at least three really good saves in the first period to keep the Hurricanes in the game. Toronto did score once when Dougie Hamilton failed to clear a puck and then lost track of Tyler Ennis who finished a rebound.
The second period started the same with the Hurricanes unable to advance the puck to the offensive zone with possession for the first four minutes of the period. But a fiery shift from the fourth line seemed to wake up and spark the Hurricanes. The result was a burst of better play and eventually a tying goal by Justin Williams. Off the rush on the power play, Sebastian Aho carried the puck and attracted a ton of attention at the blue line and then somehow played the puck through the congestion to Justin Williams who swooped in and finished. At that point, the Hurricanes seemed to have put the slow start behind them. But the Hurricanes gave it back barely over a minute later when Dougie Hamilton scored on his own net trying to break up a centering pass. The second period was somewhat better but still saw the Hurricanes exit it with the same one-goal deficit.
With the Hurricanes within a goal in the third period, the Maple Leafs struck again. This time, Dougie Hamilton lost a puck battle just inside the offensive blue line. The result was a fast 2-on-1 the other way. Calvin de Haan was unable to take away a passing lane of the rush which resulted in a back door pass and tap in goal for Patrick Marleau. The Maple Leafs would again be opportunistic offensively to run their lead to 4-1 with another goal off the rush. When Hamilton wandered a bit too far to the right side of the crease, Mitch Marner had a passing lane to find John Tavares for another goal from point blank range.
On the negative side, the refrain was a familiar one in that the Hurricanes generated very little offensively 5-on-5 and were shut out at even strength. From a glass is half full perspective, the Maple Leafs are a very good team, so the loss is not the catastrophic variety.
Player and other notes
1) Dougie Hamilton
Dougie Hamilton’s game was an utter train wreck. He was on the ice for all four goals against and was right in the middle of the mess on all four goals against in addition to taking a minor penalty. As I said on Twitter after the game, I think a silver lining could be that this game represents a capitulation point for Brind’Amour trying (unsuccessfully so far) to force Slavin/Hamilton to work. By the end of the game, Brind’Amour had reunited Slavin and Pesce.
2) Power outage returns
The Hurricanes had a decent number of shots, but this was another game where the quality was lacking. The team desperately needs to find more offense at some point.
3) Penalty kill still strong
On a positive note, the penalty kill was perfect again going 4 for 4 on the kill.
4) Micheal Ferland back on the shelf?
Micheal Ferland made it through only one period in his return. It is not certain that the upper body injury this time was a concussion, but that sure seems like the lowest probability bet.
Next up is a road battle in Montreal on Thursday.
Has anyone seen this movie before?
I am not sure what improvement this team has made…overall?
Canes were slow and outgunned by a better team. The first part sucks, but Toronto is good. Hamilton’s night was a stunner. I get that players make mistakes, but this was way more than that. Hamilton was soft and lazy. It was awful. I can see how he becomes an unpopular guy in the locker room if this is how he operates.
This game was abysmal to watch – I am glad I won my tickets and didn’t buy them! 😀 I expected we would be flat after a long road trip but you can’t be flat against the Leafs. It is easy to blame Hamilton – his whoopsies were obvious and significant – but nobody played well.
Interestingly, though, according to Aftermath we did have 12 high-quality chances to the Leafs’ 11.
I agree that few played well, but Hamilton stood out not just for mistakes, but for lack of effort. Everyone can see on replay Hamilton’s own-goal, but what you don’t see is how lazy and soft he was behind the net to allow the Leafs to gain possession in the first place. Horrible. Mistakes happen and you live with them. You can’t live with a lack of effort.
Take a listen to Williams’ comments post game. He nailed it. Now that he has been playing better he seems to be more willing to talk. Those comments were for the room more than they were for the fans.
The Leafs are the best possible version of what the Canes could (or could have) become, exciting, fun to watch, high scoring.
Matt created a post a few years back on the first round drafting of the two teams and the Leafs focused on forwards when they needed forwards and drafted well. The Canes insistance on drafting D man has not translated to anything (how many D men drafted in the first round are on the Canes roster?) I find it strange, D men are more unpredictable and take longer to grow into the tame. The Canes have done very well with loewr round D men, but it seems obvious to me that the first round drafting shoold focus on forwards.
Nylander has done better than Fleury, though he too was not playing particularly good last night.
. Austin Matthews was a lucky draw and one can argue Tor is a sexier place for UFAs but ultimately the team is well coached, fun to watch, up tempo, high scoring and built to win.
The Canes are gritty, grindy, sometimes slow, cautious, low on scoring talent and, well, sometimes a bit boring to watch, hoping to catch some type of magic to succeed but built for average.
When we needed more scoring, Skinner and Lindholm were traded for more defense (ok, I liberally interpret the original deal, one I would’ve liked as Hannifin for Ferland).
When we needed one D upgrade the management got 3 (De Haan, Hamilton and the Slovak kid, though he was a cheap two-way signing).
When we needed an upgrade in goal the management went for the cheapest option, that being said Mrazek has played acceptably and I do not hang last night’s loss on him.
Calvin was nothing short of terrible last night.
The bottom-line with this team, it isn’t good enough.
Maybe, some day, when the kids we drafted in recent year magically transofrm into top tier talent something may change, but this year’s roster is perhaps a shade better than last year’s (though I am not sure) but it is not a playoff calliber team without upgrades, and I don’t see TD opening his beloved pocket book.
Nattering nabobs of negativity! Wow! Look gang. It’s getting close to Christmas. Emotions run powerful and deep. Often negative.
The Canes are a good team. You will see. Look at the Devils, Blackhawks, and Flyers. Two Blues players got in a fistfight and threw their sticks at each other in practice recently. How about the Sabres? Should they fire their inexperienced coach? Is TD as cheap as Melnick? I think as fans we have it pretty good.
Tyler Perry just went to a couple of Wallmarts and paid off everyone’s lay away balances. He has challenged the rest of us to do the same or the best we can. Thousands are reported to be going to their local Wallmarts and paying off one person’s $50 or $100 lay away balances.
It makes a person feel better. Try it. You will look at things through a different prism.