The Carolina Hurricanes could not solve Martin Brodeur on Saturday night as they dropped a contest to the New Jersey Devils, 2-0. The Hurricanes offense is now ranked 28th in the league, averaging a paltry 2.0 goals per game. More importantly, they remain just one point out of last place in the Southeast Division.
The Hurricanes "powerplay" only had two opportunities to make a difference, but could barely gain possession in the New Jersey zone. They finished with zero shots on goal and the unit is now ranked 29th in the league at an unbelievable, 11.1%.
After delivering a season high 48 hits against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the team was credited with only five hits Saturday. If not for the outstanding work of Cam Ward, this is yet another game which could have been a runaway for the opposition.
Some positive news for the Canes is that Joni Pitkanen returned to action and looked good. He played a team high 28 minutes and seemed confident at bringing the puck out of the Hurricanes zone. He also made a few nice plays on defense.
Cam Ward was the story for Carolina though as he kept his team in the game and stopped 28 shots on 29 attempts. The one goal that did get by him was not a shot at all, but a bounce off of Jamie Langenbrunner. The Jersey captain crashed the net and had the puck bounce off his shoulder when Ward tried to knock the puck out of the crease.
The other goal was an empty-netter by Zach Parise.
While the game-winning goal could be considered lucky, Langenbrunner created that luck with his hustle and desire to crash the net, a strategy the Hurricanes forwards should take note of.
The loss gives the Canes a 2-4-1 record, good for fourth in the division. Their five point total is five points behind division leader Washington. It's still very early, but the team can not afford to fall too far behind the Caps and expect to make a legitimate run for the division lead. The team has now lost three games in a row.
The Canes intentionally took an easy path through training camp in order to save energy for the regular season and keep people healthy. They played an NHL low four exhibition games. How has that strategy worked?
They have yet to field an entirely healthy roster for any game this season and now Aaron Ward went down last night with an "upper body injury", forcing the Canes to rotate five defensemen most of the game. Eric Staal has been nursing an injury and Staal, Brind'Amour, Cullen, Pitkanen, Samsonov, and Aaron Ward skipped practice Sunday.
It will be difficult to fix what's wrong on offense when so many players can not even attend practice.
- As mentioned previously, the team was credited with only five hits. Tuomo Ruutu had three. That stat does not seem accurate, but the team intensity was obviously not the same as in earlier games this year.
- Andrew Alberts dropped the gloves with David Clarkson in the first period and took the Devil to the ice as he controlled the bout.
- Carolina had 26 shots on goal, but did not have the same quality chances the Devils had.
- Cam Ward once again was awarded one of the stars of the game, but had a loss to show for his efforts.
- Tim Gleason had another solid game and led the team with three blocked shots. Pitkanen had two.
- The Canes won an abysmal 38% of attempted faceoffs. Brind'Amour led the way with 50%.