For those who have been tracking Canes hockey of late but were unable to tune in for Saturday’s matinee, the game looked about like you have seen in other recent games.
The goaltending was solid and gave the team a chance with a nod also to the defense that was not perfect but continues to do a pretty good job of giving goalies a chance on shots that they can see and make a save on.
The offense in general was mostly non-existent. Right now, the Hurricanes have only one player who can regularly generate/create offense. Coupled with a couple good complementary players that makes for one scoring line. Past that, the best the Hurricanes can seem to do is advance the puck and hope a low-percentage chance finds a lucky bounce. Pair the lack of any kind of depth scoring with the power outage right now for the power play and the team is consistently struggling to get to two goals on the nights when Aho’s line does not go off.
Playing another team at the bottom of the division standings, the Hurricanes held their own in an even but uninspiring first period. What stood out to me about the first half of the game was the lack of anything for great hockey plays. Through its first half, the game was mostly a slog through the mud without much for high-end offenses. Coupled with solid goaltending at both ends, and the game pushed deep into the second period as a scoreless tie. After three and most of a fourth sputtering power play attempt by the Hurricanes, the scoreless tie was finally broken. Unfortunately, the goal was via a shorthanded tally by the Devils when a soft pass back by Andrei Svechnikov to Justin Faulk sent Pavel Zacha off to the races. Curtis McElhinney made a great save on the initial attempt, but Zacha retrieved the rebound and showed great hands to get a second shot off and up and over McElhinney near the end of the second period.
After Brind’Amour went to a grinder line of depth forwards on the power play late, the team seemed to catch a spark. On the second half of the power play Aho had a point blank chance stopped, and Teravainen fired high from between the face-off circles. For the first time what seems like and might actually be two weeks, the Hurricanes gained momentum from the power play. Even when the Hurricanes did score on a Teravainen blast, the goal was waived off because Justin Williams was 8-12 inches on the wrong side of the blue paint in setting a screen. File that under ‘no rest for the weary.’ A couple other good chances were also turned away, and New Jersey ultimately slammed the door with an empty-netter inside of a minute to play.
There are always dozens of details, but the basics are the same. This team lacks the ability to generate offense right now either pretty, ugly or otherwise. When Aho does not have a big game game, the layers below him generally are not enough. The goaltending continues to be good enough or better, and the team defense similarly is at least adequate. But when two goals is a stretch, winning is incredibly difficult.
Player and other notes
1) Curtis McElhinney
Just like Petr Mrazek in Thursday’s loss, McElhinney was a huge plus. He was generally flawless and made a few big saves when asked. He was only beaten on a breakaway rebound that saw Zacha make a great play to receive the rebound and lift it into the net while flying by.
2) Dougie Hamilton
This might sound odd, but I actually think he is trending in the right direction. He is still prone to an occasional lackadaisical play (which per reports was the case even when he was at the top of his game in previous seasons), but I like two things about his game on Saturday and in general in the past few contests. First, he is looking to score. The result is arguably a few too many low-percentage shots, but I think Hamilton having a mentality that he needs to shoot and score more is right on target. Second, Hamilton is going out of his way to engage physically and bang bodies. No doubt he is still trying to play his way out of a slump, but there are signs that he is trying to fight up and out of it which beats meekly accepting it and at least gives him a chance to emerge. Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but I feel like he is about to break the fever.
3) Brind’Amour’s call on the third period power play
To start a power play midway through the third period down a goal, Brind’Amour went with five non-regulars…let’s call it the third unit…with Brett Pesce and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the points and Brock McGinn, Clark Bishop and Janne Kuokkanen up front. I like the move. The regular units had done NOTHING in three previous tries on Saturday and pretty close to nothing for multiple games. By no means do I believe this group will become a regular power play unit, but in the name of accountability, trying to spark something just not doing doing the same failing thing repeatedly, I like the move. The result was easily the best power play shift in a few games when Aho’s regular unit played the second half of that power play.
4) Need more than one who can ‘generate’ offense
It takes a good group to have a high-end and balanced offense, but at the end of the day the most important component for scoring is having players who can generate offense. Right now, the Hurricanes lineup has exactly one player (Sebastian Aho) who can create offense and drive a productive line. As much as ‘half full’ on Wallmark legitimately gives him credit for being competent, at this early stage of his NHL career (and subject to change as he settles in) he just does not generate offense. Pair that with Jordan Staal and Victor Rask also being complementary/limited at best centers offensively, and the Hurricanes just do not get enough good scoring chances.
5) Squeezing the sticks
In that same vein, the team is no doubt pressing. Aho was stymied twice on breakaways and also on a point blank backdoor chance on the power play. The positive with Aho is that he continues to surge intermittently and is doing the right things to generate chances on a regular basis. Foegele failed to get a shot off on a breakaway, and Teravainen sailed a shot over the top of the net on a point blank chance from between the face-off circles. The perfect and horrible storm of not generating a ton of great chances combined with not finishing when they do makes for tough sledding in the goal scoring department.
6) Micheal Ferland
He looked good with Aho and Teravainen in the third period and seems finally ready to resume his role as a top line power forward after being derailed by his injury. He had two nice passes and just generally looked more aggressive and assertive.
Up next for the Hurricanes is a New Year’s Eve match up against the Philadelphia Flyers that will see the team needing to win to avoid entering 2019 in last place in the Metropolitan Division.
Really frustrating to watch. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be on the team playing through it.
* on goaltending – realistically, what more can they do?
* on Hamilton – someone needs to hit people and he’s our biggest body. I agree that he seems to be turning the corner. The results are sure to follow.
* on accountability – maybe a player or two needs to watch from the press box a game or two to grab their attention.
* Kuok isn’t ready. Especially defensively.
* Our team defense and PK has been excellent even with occasional lapses.
* Rask must be injured because he’s been invisible. His name is hardly ever mentioned.
Again, very frustrating to watch.
I swore I was gonna try really hard to work on my patience this season. Especially after they got off to an awesome start. Figured there would be some bumps in the road. But at that point I could not have envisioned an 11-17-4 mark since then. I mean.. just absolutely pathetic. Truly. It’s so hard to be a fan of this team.
The only thing left to do is to have a fire sale. There’s no way you’re adding enough to get this team back into contention, so Williams, Staal, a RHD (or two or three, who cares anymore), McElhinney (some contending team out there will surely be looking for a very good backup/1B goalie), and whatever else anyone’ll actually take off your hands, you may as well send them off. You know they’ll score at a point per game pace the rest of the year for their new team, so it’s a win-win, right? Actually do the rebuild the right way, instead of half-assing and getting the same result for another ten years.
And, incidentally, we’ve gotta do something on the coaching staff. Dundon wants to come in here talking about doing things different, but then hires from within – twice. The team is the same because it’s all the same. We need an actual fresh voice. Someone with experience. You don’t wanna demote or fire Rod, fine. But we have to bring in a guy that’s done this for 20-30 years with some level of success that has the ability to call Rod out and can show him what the hell to do. Maybe publicly he doesn’t get any title that makes it seem he’s a second head coach, but that’s essentially what we need.
The only way this year will end with any level of success will be Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko, which, honestly, is where our attention needs to turn towards. That’s the new goal. It’s over. Time to start building for the next few years, and you better start showing some improvement or Aho is going to be sprinting for the door – real soon.
I meant to say “the result is the same because the team is basically the same, from the top down”. I meant to edit that but I got a bit distracted.
Wow … I wasn’t expecting that.
Players have come and gone, but what hasn’t changed is management, coaching and scouting, a hint as to what is wrong?
(yes, BP and RF were fired but were not replaced with fresh perspectives and experience)
The best thing to do now is to get one of the top 2 picks of 2019, either could be the star forward that could turn the fortunes of the franchise around.
Acquire an additional first round pick and a top 6 forward somehow. I am still looking at Tor, trade an RHD (not Pesce) and maybe even big Mac back to them for one of their heigher end forwards.
Trade Jordan Staal to Pit for Kessel.
Or try to trade a package of RHD, goalie and picks to Stl for Teresenco, though I doubt he’s available to be honest. He would be a good mentor for a fellow Russian who is learning on the job.
If big Mac is willing to sign a reasonable deal to stay in Car for a couple of years I’d take it, but the way the team is playing, who honestly wants to stay?
Get Jack Drewery and Fox to sign in Carolina after their season is over.
Try to extend Aho/TT, at least try to meet their demands, Ferland is also someone that is a keeper, don’t give away good players over a couple of hundred grand, (see Lindholm).
Send Vogele back down to Clt to gain some confidence. I still think he has a lot of potential but he’s been in over his head and his mojo is gone. Send him down to a slightly lesser competition where he can learn, succeed and come back up with renewed hunger and confidence.
Bring up Gauthier, maybe even try Podorolski with the Canes again, why not?
Interesting that Zykov was waived again by the Oilers, claimed by Veg.
Was that goalie interference or not? I have heard reasonable arguments both ways. But if that had been waved off and Turbo’s puck in net allowed:
(a) I would have won the first goal selection at today’s Cool Bars and come home with a team-signed wall hanging; and
(b) we might all be singing a different song about the game and the team.
The seems to have caught the cancer of losing, however, and the team’s effort today shows it. They need to come out desperate, hungry, angry, and passionate. How many players did that today? How many players didn’t wait until the last 10 minutes to try to make something happen?
Our play in the defensive zone was solid – Mac was awesome.
But what is it going to take to turn it around this season, assuming it is not too late. What is going to make professional, competitive athletes come out and play with pride and passion rather sitting in the locker room either moping, or offering platitudes, or blaming a single call by the refs.
Is it lack of talent?, a failure of execution of good talent?, or a team culture?
How do you change it?
Losing is breaking Aho – he will be looking for his first chance out. Expect Faulk to re-sign? Expect FAs to want to come here? Expect players with limited trade possibilities to name CAR as a destination? Are we instilling a culture of losing in our young players such that losses deaden them?
Where is the accountability?
All of the above comments are valid and have said what I would say so I won’t just repeat them. Just for emphasis I will say IMO Rod is in over his head and is doing a miserable job. If Dundon does anything, get an experienced coach in here as soon as he can.
Here’s a crazy trade proposal (you don’t have to read it if you don’t like trade proposals).
The Oilers and Canes could make a win win trade partners.
The Oilers need to start making serious playoff noise and they are too deep down the middle (3 top 6 centers) but their defense is so bad that they can’t score their way out of it.
The canes are too deep on d with too little scoring forward, especially at center.
So how about Faulk or Hammilton + Jordan Staal to Edm for RHN and Puljujarvi?
Puljujarvi is a big disappointment so far but has never really been given a chance, plus he has national chemistry with some of the Canes top players.
Jordan staal deserves a shot at the cup and playing center behind McDavid and dreisietel he could show os hif elite defense leaning abilities.
Hamilton (or faulk if there is no other way) would add desperately needed help on the Oilers D.
RNH could form a much more offensive leaning line in car, e.g. acting as a mentor for Necas.
Puljujarvi could be bumped up to play with his countrymen on the first line.
I’ve been wondering if a darling for Lucic swap would be acceptable as a sweetener for the Oilers.
Lucic provides the toughness that some of us desire, though he is declining and there are rumors of off ice issues.
But RNH could be just what the team needs and taking on one bad contract in exchange for another (even if that is a cheaper and shorter contract) might be the price to pay.
Lucic for rask would also make sense though, again, the Oilers have plenty of depth centers.
I agree that trading Staal to a legitimate playoff contender would probably be an act of mercy for him. 🙂
But Lucic is a boat anchor with 4+ more seasons at $6M. EDM brought him in and paid him big money because they thought he could play and would protect McDavid. Neither worked out so well.
But if the more general concept is a wide-reaching trade at the highest levels of the team – worth considering.
Well, the team has already traded its most tradable players (3 top 7 first round picks) and got nex to nothing in return, there isn’t much left to trade and the team is no more desireable a destination this year than in years past, so the UFA/RFA market will not be a given.
The only way to get more high end players to help turn this mess around is to flop and draft again, hopefully with better results.
But staal and the D can yield us help with the rebuild if used correctly and JW, if he is willing, could make for an interesting tradeline bate, teams with playoff aspirations sure would not mind having a triple cup winner on their team.
Well, there is the one min a million shot at a magic turnaround, but if the Canes lose tomorrow they are legitimately last in the east, I mean last.