On Tuesday night in Tampa, Florida, the Hurricanes closed out a circuitous and challenging three-game road trip with a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The loss finishes the trip with a somewhat disappointing but not catastrophic 1-2 mark. Playoff pace (95 points) is basically playing .500 hockey on the road and getting two-thirds of the points at home. So in that regard, the Hurricanes came up a point short. But in total, the trip was far more positive than negative. The Hurricanes were by far the better team in the first win in a dominant effort and were actually the better team by a decent margin in Winnipeg on Sunday despite losing. The Hurricanes did run out of gas on Tuesday at about the midway point, but even still, special teams sabotaged the effort as much as anything.
Before the trip, I wrote an ominous article considering the challenges that could could lie ahead with the team’s style against good teams on the road. Despite the 1-2 mark, I actually think the team passed that test. Adjust to break even on special teams and the Hurricanes come out 3-0.
Tuesday’s game started similar to the previous two though not to the same extreme. The Hurricanes were the better team out of the gate and their ‘forecheck to the point of overwhelming the opponent’ style was reasonable effective even if not dominant. The Hurricanes scored first when Sebastian Aho went full Harry Potter basically snatching an aerial clear out of mid-air. From there the puck went quickly to Teuvo Teravaining and then Micheal Ferland who deftly finished. But then the Hurricanes struggling special teams struck by allowing a shorthanded goal against. A fairly harmless turnover and a series of ‘oops’ led to the goal against. First, Justin Williams maybe underestimated the speed of Mathieu Joseph. Then Jaccob Slavin did a horrible job identifying and taking away the passing lane. The result was an easy centering pass and a tap in goal against. The Hurricanes emerged from a decent first period with their usual shot and possession and advantage but nothing to show for it on the scoreboard because of special teams.
The second period was even early, but a turnover at the offensive blue line sent Tyler Johnson off to the races. A fairly harmless looking 2-on-2 saw Johnson blow by Calvin de Haan with Lucas Wallmark trailing for an impressive goal. But the Hurricanes struck back when Warren Foegele fed Martin Necas on the rush for Necas’ first NHL goal. My favorite part of the night was Foegele obviously recognizing it as Necas’ first and racing to congratulate him before going to retrieve the puck for him. The second period would end with that same 2-2 score.
Then early in the third period, the special teams struck again. Calvin de Haan mishandled and turned over the puck in the corner. A quick centering pass led to a quick goal against. The Lightning became stronger as the game wore on, and the Hurricanes seemed to run out of gas. The Hurricanes did muster a final push trying to score for the third time with the extra attacker on. But it was for naught, and Tampa Bay clinched it with a Tyler Johnson empty-netter to close the game out at 4-2.
Player and other notes
The scoring line trio had another strong game. Ferland’s goal was a pretty one that showed the skill he has to go with his lunch pail power forward game. The line had a good even if not dominant night and had a decent number of other medium to high grade scoring chances along the way.
Calvin de Haan
His game was a perfect illustration for how defensemen’s play is measured not by how many good plays they make but rather how many bad ones they make. He seemed to misjudge Wallmark’s ability to catch Johnson off the rush and should have instead challenged the puck. When did not, Johnson flew by him for a chance and goal in alone. Then the mishandle on the penalty kill was just unfortunate and immediately found the back of the Canes’ net. De Haan was not horrible in total, but those two big miscues are about two too many in a close hockey game.
The Hurricanes were even or possibly slightly plus in this game. After mostly overcoming special teams deficits all season, the struggles finally bit the team on Tuesday night. An 0 for 4 with a shorthanded goal against combined for 0 for 1 killing penalties is just too much to overcome against a good team in a close game. No doubt, special teams will be a key work item when the team resumes practice on Thursday.
Great to see him get the monkey off his back before it grows. I always root for Canes rookies to score their first NHL goal at PNC Arena, but I am obviously still happy for him. Lost in the fact that he scored was that Brind’Amour again went away from him pulling him off the power play and sitting him when he shuffled a bit. The result was a meager 6:43 of ice time. The goal makes things interesting, but part of me thinks the return home could see Necas head to Charlotte for at least a short stint of heavy minutes. The goal is interesting in that it could serve as a boost. I actually thought he was better in Sunday’s loss. At 19 years old and with only nine games of NHL experience, perhaps the goal can serve as a spark and lead to an early jump upward on the learning curve for Necas who has started slow in total.
Zykov seems to have taken his time in the press box to heart. He has been more physically engaged since returning the lineup. He made the play to win the puck in the neutral zone on Necas’ goal and has been in and won more puck battles in the past few games since returning to the lineup. He also garnered power play ice time on Tuesday.
The sky is not falling
As I said above, 1-2 is a point short of a .500 road playoff pace for the three-game road trip. That should be noted as a negative because it is. But given the level of competition and the start before it, by no means is it catastrophic. The team has eight of the next ten days off which offers time to make adjustments on special teams and fine tune other areas of the game.
Next up is an odd 1pm game against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday during the North Carolina State Fair. Here is hoping it results in a perfect storm of hockey not just parking and traffic.
A record of 4 2 1 through 7 games is a good record, we should keep that in mind, but this team is never going to get anywhere with these types of special teams.
This is where Roddy needs a coach with experience, systems and strategy to help him out.
Today’s game was simply not good enough.
Congrats to Necas, , it´s always fun to see a guy get his first NHL, goal, and though he is not there yet he could be a good one!
The difference between 6-0-1 and 4-2-1 is special teams – both PP and PK. You can’t sugarcoat it by looking at it one game at a time, or praising the other teams PP/PK (although TBL is awesome).
The good thing is that it is fixable – the bad thing is that sending players over the boards time and time again to “get it done” and expecting positive results isn’t the fix. This is a coaching issue and it doesn’t come with a “let ’em play” approach. Given that RBA as an assistant coached a mediocre-to-poor PP the past two seasons should we be surprised? I am hoping the coaches really stop to think about what they should be doing and start to attack the issue.
Those were 4 points that were there for the taking – and we didn’t.
The good: 5v5 play.
The bad: special teams.
The ugly: overplaying the top two lines. We need 4 lines the coach trusts.
The Canes lost to a better team tonight. The Bolts are one of the favorites out of the East to play for the Cup and they looked like it last night. Probably the fastest team in the East as well. The Canes looked a step slow to me. Could be that they just aren’t as quick as the Lightning, or the road trip could have been wearing on them.
Glad to see Necas get his first goal, but his game is not there. We rip defensemen for mistakes that end up as goals, but Necas, and some others, are coughing up pucks at a high rate, missing assignments, and just not playing NHL hockey. It’s hard for Brind’Amour to roll 4 lines with one of those lines belongs in the AHL. I would love to see Necas in Charlotte, but do we really think there is someone down there that is any better? I’m not so sure. A turnstile of tryouts isn’t good thing to do either.
I liked Zykov on the PP. Got some chances, just didn’t bury them. His 5 on 5 play is still suspect to me. Gets knocked off the puck way too easy for a big guy while skating. He’s fine when he is standing still, but while skating a little bump and that’s all she wrote. If he can’t bury pucks on the PP he doesn’t belong in the NHL.
Special teams are struggling, but when you watch the skill level it still isn’t there. Was hoping Svechnikov would help, but I don’t see the “sniper” part of his game. His shot is OK. That’s it. He looks a lot more like Kovalchuk than Ovechkin to me, which isn’t a bad thing. It still leaves a big hole on the PP for a guy who can rip it. Not sure what has happened to Faulk’s shot, but he’s not scaring anyone either at this point. You can scream about scheme all you want, but someone has to bury a shot. The Canes are getting chances, but outside of Aho, who really can bury the puck?
A tough game against probably the class of the east last night. The team ran out of gas in the second half of the game. The team clearly can improve on special teams but I think right now the team is in decent shape.
The team is 4-2-1 in October. How many seasons have fans lamented the hole the Canes found themselves in after one month. This record is exceptional when compared to seasons past.
Carolina is one of three teams to have played seven games. Las Vegas is 3-4. Toronto is 6-1. Canes have had two stretches of 3 games in four days. My point is a tough schedule to start the year. Over the next 10 days they have two games. They can rest, focus on special teams and see where they are going forward.
The canes have won games by working harder than the other teams. They lost that edge in Winnipeg and Tampa late in the games. Realistically the Canes lost to two better teams. Yet the Canes beat Columbus and Minnesota at their places. Canes gave up a point to NYI they would like to have back. The season is off to a great start. Let’s see how they do against the Avalanche who are on a road trip this week.
With rest and practice on special teams perhaps a new winning streak can start.
Standings Watch: This early in season and with a large spread in GP amongst the Metro teams standings are not very meaningful. However the Canes have won 64.1% of the points available to them, well above a playoff pace. Looking further at %s (AHL style) the Canes have the second best result in the division. Team +/- is still in the black numbers as well.
Last nights game was the 3rd in 4 nights with travel on 2 of those nights. A ball buster schedule against any teams, no less one that includes 2 Stanley Cup heavy favorites.
I am not one too accept 4-2-1 as okay simply because it is better than previous year’s early results or because WPG and TBL are top teams.
The failure of special teams cost us 4 points against two top teams – we don’t get those points back.
Great, don’t accept it. See the glass half empty or broken if that is your perspective. It’s always fun to have many different views.
You know me, I’m Professor Positive over here. I think the special teams are definitely an area for concern, but at the same time, I’m seeing a lot of youthful mistakes out there which our guys have to make in order to learn.
The de Haan error that led to the goal last night was most cringeworthy, and yes Necas and Svech tend to go invisible at times, but I think the long term benefits of having them get used to the flow will outweigh the short-term. Unlike Lindholm, we’re not leaning on Svech and Necas to produce. We want them to, but we can clearly score without them. Best way to get them up to speed is to play them at speed, IMO. Clearly they are getting better each game, and I figure with Rod as coach, the team will be better in February than they are now, health permitting. That’s really all I want this year, is continuous improvement, because we have the young talent to be very good for very many years.
If the Canes can get 3 or 4 points out of the next 2 games (or 4 out of 6 for the next 3) I have to say the season is off to an impressive start.
I am generally on the grumpy/frustrated side of Canes fandom after suffering for a decade, but I’ve enjoyed the start and there is no denying that the Canes schedule has not been W friendly, especially the road trip from hell that just ended.
That being said, it all depends what the Canes do now with the time off to work on special teams. If you want to be a playoff team you have to steal games and not lose games with special teams. You can’t outplay the opponent every night, you have to find different ways to win, and special teams are the answer.
I honestly have no illusions about a 2006 repeat this year, this team is too young and inexperienced and lacks the high end veteran mix (we have 2 or 3, but the team would need another 2 or 3), but I want to see a definite improvement, ideally at least one round of playoff play and a team that is positioning itself for a long-term success.
So if the team gets down and dirty with the video review, work on their special teams every day and figure out a way to at least not let those hurt them, I remain optimistic.
If I see more PP and PK disaster and the team is still less than 15% on the PP and under 80% on the PK by the end of the month some frustration will start creeping back in.
The Oilers are not off to a good start, Arizona is off to an embarrassing start, the Rangers are improving after a pretty bad beginning. I hope one of these teams may panic and make an ill advised trade with the Canes that involves a center, but I’m not sure what they have to offer.
I think this is where we really see what we have or don’t have. Yes, we were happy with the start, the effort, the seemingly culture change. Now, with the adversity, we will see if there really is a culture change or if we just witnessed the bump from all the newness and great opening speech by RBA.
Now, hopefully we will see that they are mad as hell at losing and not satisfied with the effort. We will see if RBA can fix things. A positive sign of that is putting Z back in the PP.
I’m optimistic (but I always am, to a fault) that this team/management/coaches/etc. will address the issues. I am also glad (sort of) that we had this setback because it gives a chance to see how they will respond!
The key is in the response. Lots of playoff teams will have 2 game losing streaks, especially those that play Tampa and Winnipeg on the road in a 3 games in 4 nights situation. Not having 3 game losing streaks will be another step this team can make in restoring a little faith to a fan base that comes by it’s cynicism honestly. The Colorado game will be an interesting test coming with a weird start time after a 3 day break.
I tend to feel glass-half-full but like tj’s feistiness about losing points we should have one.
The biggest wild-card entering the season was goaltending. I think it’s fair to say that we haven’t lost a game because of goaltending and we may have won at least one game we shouldn’t have. Mrazek was very good last night and that’s now twice in a row – very encouraging.
If we get the level of goaltending we’ve seen so far …
“won” and not “one” in Sentence 1.