Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes - Game 39: Game Analysis

USA TODAY Sports

The Canes' franchise-record eighth straight loss on home ice came Tuesday night to the conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins. Here's an inside look at the 5-3 loss.

Cory's out of town on business this week, I have a spare half hour, and you probably want a place to vent after last night's record-setting loss. Fear not, dear reader! Game Analysis is here for all of your various wants, needs, and other sundries. Here's a closer look at last night's 5-3 loss to the Penguins.

Three Observations

  1. It's incredible to me how much Justin Faulk simply suiting up for a game is the rising tide that lifts all boats on the Canes' blue line. I asked Kirk Muller about this last night at the postgame press conference, and he pretty much confirmed what we all know: Faulk's puck handling is second to none on the Canes' roster, and his steady, calm play - always making the smart pass, playing sound positionally - has repercussions all the way down the pairings. For whatever reason, every defenseman who suits up for the Canes is more comfortable in his surroundings when Faulk is in uniform. As a group last night, the Canes' defense played smart, positionally strong hockey, and it paid off in the first game of the year where the team scored two goals from defensemen.

  2. Alexander Semin's upper-body injury seems to be playing havoc with his ability to dish the puck to his linemates, which has been his bread and butter all year long. I paid especially close attention to him on two successive shifts in the third period, one of which saw him wind up for a wrister that ended up looking more like something you'd see on Slapshot Saturday rather than a shot from one of the great snipers in the NHL. Chip Alexander pointed out that Semin took a slash across the wrist or lower arm a couple of weeks ago, which seemed innocuous enough at the time but might be the source of Semin's recent struggles. After all, even the best sniper can't put anything behind shots when your arm won't cooperate.

  3. It was another rough night for the Canes' infirmary, and it started even before the opening puck drop when Dan Ellis skated over to Justin Peters, said something to him, and next thing you know Peters is leading the team out onto the ice to start the game. Ellis was flexing his right knee on the bench as the game began, and he had a pretty sizeable ice pack on his knee after the game although he looked to be moving around the locker room fine. During the game, Drayson Bowman (upper-body) and Tim Brent (lower-body) were both hurt, forcing Muller to essentially roll three lines for most of the third period. Say what you want about Peters' play - as many around these parts have recently - but for a guy who was told he was starting five minutes before the opening faceoff, he didn't have a bad game. But when you suffer two more injuries in the course of one game, your line combinations are going to be necessarily messed around with, and can result in a two-goals-in-13-seconds situation like we saw last night. Muller was right about one thing: the Penguins are not a team you want to face with a short bench.

Number to Know

9 - Before Tuesday night, the number of consecutive games in which the Canes had surrendered a second-period goal. Tuesday's game was the first since March 19 against Florida in which the team did not allow a goal in the middle stanza.

Plus

Bobby Sanguinetti - Remember a few weeks ago when we all cringed and shielded our eyes when Sanguinetti would take a shift? Those days seem like long ago. A commenter on our open game thread pointed out that Sanguinetti has responded to coaching in fine form, and it paid off with his second goal of the season last night. It's easy to forget that he has only played 37 career NHL games, so he has plenty of room to grow, and he's becoming more confident with each passing game. He's far from the train wreck that he was to start the season.

Minus

Jeff Skinner - It's scary that Skinner keeps finding a home in the minus section of Game Analysis, but he keeps doing things to deserve it. Skinner and Brooks Orpik got into it during the second period, and Skinner took a dumb retaliatory slashing penalty at the end of the sequence after trying unsuccessfully to draw a penalty on Orpik a few seconds earlier. Unfortunately, it may be time to face an uncomfortable reality that Skinner has a reputation that precedes him now: get him off his game and he will do something dumb. Ironically, Skinner's play has been similar to the unfounded reputation Semin carried with him as he left Washington: gifted but selfish, easy to knock off his game, petulant.

Woods signed; Blanchard, Wallace recalled, Dalpe reassigned

Today, the Canes announced the signing of 2012 5th-round pick Brendan Woods, who leaves the University of Wisconsin after his sophomore year, and recalled Nicolas Blanchard (who will play his first career NHL game tomorrow night in Washington) and Tim Wallace from Charlotte, each on an emergency basis to replace Bowman and Brent. The Canes also sent Zac Dalpe back to Charlotte for yet another stint with the Checkers. The press releases for all three are below.

HURRICANES AGREE TO TERMS WITH BRENDAN WOODS

2012 Draft pick recently completed sophomore season at Wisconsin

RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Vice President of Hockey Operations for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with forward Brendan Woods on a three-year, entry-level contract. At the NHL Level, Woods will receive $600,000 in 2013-14, $650,000 in 2014-15 and $700,000 in 2015-16. At the AHL level, he would be paid $65,000 in all three years. Woods receives a signing bonus of $225,000, and will immediately join the Hurricanes’ top minor-league affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).

"Brendan is a big, physical forward who skates well," said Francis. "He has a good knowledge of the game and did a good job in the face-off circle during his second year at Wisconsin."

Woods, 20, completed his sophomore season at the University of Wisconsin in 2012-13, totaling five goals and seven assists (12 points) in 41 games played. The Humboldt, Sask., native completed his collegiate career with 10 goals, 12 assists (22 points) and 83 penalty minutes in 75 games played. Woods (6’3", 215 lbs.) was selected by the Hurricanes in the fifth round, 129th overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to beginning his collegiate career with the Badgers, he spent two seasons in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with Chicago and Muskegon, earning 36 points (20g, 16a) in 91 games. Brendan’s father, Bob, played professionally in the AHL, IHL and ECHL, and currently serves as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks.

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‘CANES RECALL NICOLAS BLANCHARD FROM CHARLOTTE

Forward expected to make NHL debut on Thursday; Zac Dalpe reassigned to Checkers

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forward Nicolas Blanchard (NIHK-oh-las BLAN-shard) on an emergency basis from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Rutherford also announced that forward Zac Dalpe has been reassigned to Charlotte.

Blanchard, 25, has scored four goals, earned five assists (9 points) and accumulated a team-leading 124 penalty minutes in 61 games with Charlotte this season. Currently in his sixth full professional season, the Granby, Que., native has scored 54 goals, earned 61 assists and totaled 703 penalty minutes in 403 career AHL regular-season games with Carolina’s affiliate in Albany and Charlotte. The Hurricanes drafted Blanchard (6’3", 206 lbs.) in the sixth round, 192nd overall, in the 2005 NHL Draft. He serves as one of Charlotte’s alternate captains and is expected to make his NHL debut on Thursday at Washington.

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‘CANES RECALL TIM WALLACE FROM CHARLOTTE

Forward played 21 games with Hurricanes earlier this season

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forward Tim Wallace on an emergency basis from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Wallace, 28, scored one goal and averaged 10:09 of ice time per game in 21 games with Carolina from Feb. 4-March 18, before being assigned to Charlotte. In 47 games with the Checkers this season, the Anchorage, AK, native has notched nine goals, earned 13 assists (22 points) and accumulated 44 penalty minutes. In 94 career NHL regular-season games, Wallace (6’1", 207 lbs.) has scored four goals and earned nine assists (13 points) with Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay and Carolina. The Hurricanes signed Wallace as a free agent in July 2012.

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