For the fourth time in six games this season, the Carolina Hurricanes skated off the ice Sunday as losers, this time falling 5-3 at home to the Phoenix Coyotes. The team is now 2-2-2, but it looks like they will have to forge ahead without goaltender Anton Khudobin, who left the game with a lower body injury and had an MRI Monday.
1. The injury to Khudobin is a huge blow to the Hurricanes, especially if he is gone for a significant amount of time. Right now, the team is saying it could just be a short-term setback. Regardless, Khudobin was pressuring Cam Ward for the starting job early this season and his absence is significant and worrisome, especially with Ward’s up-and-down start to the 2013-14 season. The one bit of good news is the Canes are already paying Justin Peters on a one-way contract, so recalling him from Charlotte won't cost them any more money.
2. Somehow, the Hurricanes are in second place in the Metropolitan Division despite being just .500 (2-2-2). The team has had a tough schedule, but four of their games have been at home and after Tuesday's home game against the Chicago the team will play the next four games on the road. You hate for the positives of the season's first week and a half to be: 1) that the rest of the division has been worse; and 2) that your top line isn't yet playing it's best. But that's where the Hurricanes are, for better or for worse.
3. The Hurricanes fans weren't happy with the officiating Sunday, even when the call was right (see Jordan Staal’s hit post at the end of the second period). But regardless of one's opinion of the individual calls made, it's definitely a terrible trend to see officials calling matching penalties for infractions they think were helped along by embellishments. Both teams received diving penalties Sunday. In a game already riddled with penalties, it seemed like a showcase for the refs instead of the players.
Numbers To Know
3 — Penalties drawn by Tuomo Ruutu — one in each period — in his first game of the season. The third — a hook in the slot by David Schlemko — also resulted in a diving call against Ruutu. Ruutu was clearly not up to full speed yet, but he kept his legs moving and had a solid first performance coming off of injury.
1 — Carolina player who wasn't on the ice for a Phoenix goal Sunday. Other than Riley Nash, every player — including both goalies — was in play when the Coyotes scored a goal.
Jeff Skinner — Skinner scored his second goal of the season Sunday, taking advantage of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith’s propensity to go down early by firing the puck off Smith’s mask and into the net from the bottom of the faceoff circle to tie the game at 3-3 late in the second period. Both of Skinner’s goals this season have been scored on the power play — half of the team's total of four — and he leads the team with seven points through six games.
Jiri Tlusty — Simply put, the Canes need Tlusty to get out of his funk. He played just 12:05 Sunday (only 8:32 at even strength) and still does not have a point through six games. Tlusty went without a point in the first six games of the 2012-13 season as well, but then had five goals and four assists in his next six games en route to career highs in goals (23) and points (38) despite the shortened 48-game schedule.