My initial reaction on Twitter following the Canes 6-3 loss to the blues was:
At time of year when good teams tighten things up and round into form, @Canes are 1 out of 3 since the break in playing decent or better hockey games.
Need to find a higher gear and level of consistency.
— Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 5, 2020
After a strong effort and a win on Sunday, the Carolina Hurricanes were drubbed handily by the Blues on Tuesday. While there is an element of remembering that it only counts as a single loss and looking for a rebound in the next game, the number of teams playing well in the Metropolitan Division right now suggest that the teams that do emerge from the regular season and make the playoffs will be teams that can find a consistent run. As of right now, that is proving elusive for the Hurricanes.
The Blues starter faster and were rewarded with the first goal when the Hurricanes were caught running around in their own end and Martin Necas left Sammy Blais alone in front of the net where he finished a rebound to put the Blues up 1-0. The defensive break down was on Necas, but Petr Mrazek offered no help leaving a rebound there for e Blues player all alone. The Hurricanes would find their footing just before the midway point of the first period and survive the slow start with only a 1-0 deficit after a period.
But the second period was a train wreck for the Hurricanes. First, St. Louis scored when Petr Mrazek overplayed the rush a bit and was a step slow getting back to defend a wraparound. Next Colton Parayko beat Mrazek cleanly from above the top of the face-off circle, unscreened off the rush. Sebastian Aho scored to give the Hurricanes life at 3-1 when Warren Foegele picked up an odd carom and made a quick pass to Aho on the back door. But that hope was quickly stymied when twice the Hurricanes penalty got caught with three players overplaying the puck. In both instances, once the puck was behind them, it was an unhindered shooting gallery right in front of the net. The wheels really came off in the second period. The Canes power looked sluggish, and the penalty kill like kids hockey with everyone chasing the puck. Mrazek really had no chance on the latter two power play goals, but both of the first two were on him. The result was a rough period and 5-1 deficit after two periods.
The third period saw St. Louis score on a blast from a ways out through a screen before Brock McGinn and Martin Necas scored late for the Canes at a point when the outcome was more or less already decided.
Tuesday’s loss was the kind where the Canes never really gave themselves a chance to earn points. The effort was not there when things got tough nor was the execution.
Player and other notes
1) The penalty kill
If one rewatches the two power play goals against, the Canes look out of sorts on both with three players clustered in a small area chasing the puck. It is not clear if the players were just trying to do too much or if they lost track of where they were, but that video will be tough to watch on Wednesday if there is a special teams meeting.
2) Petr Mrazek
During his year and a half as head coach, Rod Brind’Amour with the help of his goalie coach has generally been spot on with his choice of goalies, but I think he missed in this regard on Tuesday. James Reimer has been the better goalie of late and has also been significantly better on the road. The team in front of Mrazek did not deserve to win, but Mrazek also had nothing for answers when the team needed some help. As I said, I give Mrazek a pass on the two St. Louis power play goals, but he could have been better on all of the other four. I think this game could cause a shift trying to find a hot streak similar to 2018-19 for Mrazek and instead going with the best chance to win on a nightly basis.
3) A stark contract
Even when the Canes did have the puck, they were mostly pushed to the outside and given limited scoring opportunities. The Blues were pretty sound defensively even when pressured. On the other hand, the Canes had issues again sorting things out and defending.
4) Sebastian Aho
He continued his scoring ways with a goal, but in total was not great either.
5) Need to rebound quickly
Critical is rebounding quickly and avoiding even short losing streaks.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a Thursday game in Arizona against the Coyotes.
Have the canes all made it back from break yet?
Not good. Remember the days when the Canes used to regularly out work teams? Me either.