Game Analysis: Weekend Home Games Vs. Capitals, Vs. Stars

The Carolina Hurricanes dropped home games this weekend in embarrassing fashion, losing 5-1 and 5-2 to Washington and Dallas, respectively, and they have only five points in their last eight games. The Canes play on national television Tuesday in New Jersey, so the idea that a change could occur either behind the bench or on the roster before the game — or, if the team lays another egg, following the game — is not inconceivable.

Three Observations

1. Dallas and Washington have been among the league's best teams a month into the season, with both leading their respective divisions. But that doesn't excuse losing by a combined eight goals on home ice. From pretty much top to bottom, the team looked uninspired in both games, and the pressure on coach Paul Maurice is severely mounting and at a boiling point.

2. The decision to sit Jamie McBain for Derek Joslin wasn't a surprise, but the Canes Twittersphere was abuzz wondering why veteran signee Tomas Kaberle wasn't the one in the press box for the Stars game. While Kaberle has woefully underperformed offensively for Carolina — his no goals and three assists match that of stay-at-home blueliner Bryan Allen — he has, for the most part, been reliable in his own end. McBain, on the other hand, has made his fair share of obvious mistakes defensively. But Kaberle didn't do himself any favors in the eyes of the fans with his inability to stop Loui Eriksson's 2-on-1 shorthanded feed to Jamie Benn that pushed Dallas' lead Sunday to 5-1.

3. It's becoming impossible to look past the numbers: Eric Staal's inability to produce points is a huge, gigantic, monstrous issue. For those wondering if Staal is hurt, I would guess no. He continues to be active and seems to be on the verge of breaking out almost every shift. But until that next goal — preferably one at even strength — goes in for Carolina's captain, both his, the team's and the fans' combined frustration will continue.

Number To Know

3 — Games in a row with an assist for Jay Harrison, the longest point streak of his 144-game NHL career. Not only has Harrison contributed on the score sheet, but he has an even plus/minus and is second on the team and tied for 17th in the league in blocked shots (31).

Plus

Brian Boucher — Boucher didn't get a start in either game, but he came on to relieve Cam Ward against the Stars and performed well, allowing one goal — the aforementioned shorthanded one by Benn — on 13 shots. No one expected a miracle when Boucher replaced Ward early in the second period, but Boucher was at least able to stop the bleeding and keep the game from being really out of hand. Last season, games like the Dallas one often ended in big-time routs.

Minus

Joni Pitkanen — Pitkanen was a combined minus-5 on the weekend and Maurice singled him out — without naming him — on the fourth goal allowed against Washington, using an equine expletive to describe Pitkanen's decision to pinch with three forwards deep in the Capitals' zone. After a fast start that saw him register six points in Carolina's first six games, Pitkanen has just one assist in the last eight.

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