Hell officially froze over Friday night as the Hurricanes somehow blew their one time huge division lead and the Florida Panthers beat them 4-3. There are no excuses. The team had 9 powerplay opportunities to none for Florida, including two 5 on 3's. They outshot the kittykats 46-17 and still couldn't beat them.
What happened? It will require more careful thought and analysis, but a few things certainly did go wrong. Cam Ward didn't have his best game of the season, but it wasn't all his fault. While the defense did very well to limit the shot total to 17, they allowed too many breakaway chances and odd man rushes. Even though the Canes had almost triple the number of shots, Florida's chances were of better quality.
Caniacs and bloggers alike will most likely have several months to determine what went wrong because there is no way that hell will freeze over again Saturday night in Washington.
Some other things do stick out to this blogger. Ray Whitney, Justin Williams, and Matt Cullen were simply not ready to return to action. Wouldn't it make sense to make sure players at least took a couple of full contact practices before they are allowed to suit up for ultra-important games?
I think that the team also missed the physical presence of Wade Brookbank and Tim Conboy. Weren't the Canes winning back when they were playing?
The team needs a decent back-up goaltender. You can't expect Cam Ward or any goalie to play every single game down the stretch, including all of the back-to-backs, with no break.
Bottom line, the Canes lost 3 out of their last 4 games to blow their season long division lead. It seems inexcusable, but it happened. I'm at a loss right now for anything else to say, but I'm sure I'll have more "brilliant insight" tomorrow.