The Canes lost to the Caps in over-time last night, 3-2. A couple of things seemed hauntingly familiar to me. The first obvious thing was the dismal power play, which was 0-6. That makes it 4-27 so far this pre-season, a whopping 14.8%! It's certainly not showing the improvement that the team had been hoping for after finishing 25th in the league last year. The next familiar sight isn't so easy to put a finger on. It seems like there is inconsistent effort, or intensity. The boys are starting this pre-season off much like they played last year, with strong effort in certain parts of the game, but having the appearance of less effort in other parts. They fell behind again, only to pick up the intensity in the 3rd period to tie the game much like they did when they played against the Caps in Raleigh last week. I know it's just the pre-season, but it's a shame they can't show the same intensity and effort throughout the whole game, or at least in more of it.
There is another problem that is alarming to me regarding this pre-season so far. The team seems to be taking an inordinate number of penalties! In 4 games they have taken a total of 31 penalties, an average of 8 per game, almost 3 per period. Needless to say, you make it that much more difficult to win hockey games if you are killing penalties for half of every period. While these games don't count and aren't supposed to mean much, trends can develop into habits. Trends like a weak power play and taking stupid penalties are traits that can easily carry forward into the regular season if they are not addressed. The Canes have 2 more games to address them.
For those of you who would like a review of the game, Luke did a very good job of that this morning in Lord Stanley's Blog. He also quoted Glen Wesley and Justin Williams during a couple of interesting statements. Williams said, "We had a lot of chances. Weâ€™re going tit for tat. Up front, I think our forward lines are some of the best in the league. When we play offense as well as we play defense, thatâ€™s when weâ€™re going to hurt teams." Hmmm, it sounds like he might be blaming the defense there, but it's hard to tell.
Then Wesley said, "I think itâ€™s the consistency, waiting for the third period and doing it in spurts. I think we got caught doing that a lot last year. Youâ€™re not going to win hockey games by doing that. We have to get back to a dominating forecheck and establishing the forecheck, grinding teams down. Thatâ€™s one of the things weâ€™ve got to get better at before the season starts.â€ I have to agree with Wesley 100% here. You can't wear teams down if you don't start aggressively forechecking until the 3rd period. You may have the most talented offensive lines in hockey, but if you wait until the 3rd period every game before you score, you're asking for trouble. I wouldn't blame last night's loss on the defense. I'll tell you what though. Instead of blaming each other, (if that was what they were doing), you can blame it on me! I could have been blogging better I guess.
Speaking of better blogging, what happened to John Forslund's "live blogging" last night? Remember he promised live blog updates from every away pre-season game this year? Must be he had technical troubles, like the audio portion of last night's telecast. Yuck! What a horrible experience, trying to watch that game last night with no audio. Then I tried turning on the radio portion, and that was completely out of synch with the video. I had to make a choice, either listen or watch, I couldn't do both. It must have had something to do with the Caps broadcasting, because most other games on NHL TV have been high quality.
Until next time....