Last night's score was, Flyers 3, Hurricanes 1. I think that the Canes might have forgotten that they wanted payback for last week's loss because the Flyers definitely wanted the game more than Carolina did. Let me try to paint a picture here. The Canes repeatedly fail to clear the zone. The Canes repeatedly turn the puck over. The Canes fall behind on the scoreboard. The Canes crank up the pressure and intensity in the 3rd period and try for a comeback. Sound familiar? Sometimes the 3rd period adrenaline rush is enough to win a game, but for the 2nd time in a row, it wasn't. One might think that the team would remember that this strategy doesn't always work and that they should try harder, earlier in the game. But maybe they suffer from short-term memory loss?
I didn't think that the first period was too bad. They had 17 shots on goal and several hits. I'm not sure how many scoring chances that they had, but the problem was that the shots didn't seem to be of high quality, in my opinion. Most were long shots where Biron had plenty of room to see them and stop them. The 2nd period was an all too typical 2nd period for this team. For some reason, they just seem to go into hibernation in the 2nd. Derian Hatcher scored his first goal of the season to open the scoring. Congrats Derian! After spending a minute or two in Cam Ward's crease, he finally managed to whack a loose puck into the net. Remember that Frantisek Kaberle guy who the coaches like because he makes good decisions? His decision on that play was to watch Hatcher continually bust on Ward until the puck got into the net. Then on another goofy play, somehow a stopped puck got away from Ward, found it's way back to Kimmo Timonen, and the 8 million dollar a year man roofed the puck into the empty net. By the way, what is it about defensemen scoring on this team? It seems that almost every game it is a problem. At the end of the period, it was 2-0 but maybe the Canes thought that they had the Flyers right where they wanted them?
Early in the 3rd period while killing a penalty, Glen Wesley tried to clear a puck. Instead of icing it through open space, he tried to shove the puck through 2 players along the boards. The puck bounced out to Mike Knuble who made the prettiest shot of the night over Ward's glove, making it 3-0. That was the story for Carolina that night as it seemed that almost every decision they made was the wrong one. For instance at one point, Rod Brind'Amour was carrying the puck over the blueline and fumbled it a bit. Justin Williams darted in to take it, but almost took out his Captain's legs instead. Brind'Amour hobbled to the bench and another opportunity was wasted. Cory Stillman scored the loan goal for the Hurricanes off of a rebound on a powerplay later in the 3rd.
I'm not going to dissect anymore of the game. Carolina has now lost 5 of it's last 7 and some serious questions are coming to light. Maybe this team isn't as good as they looked to be during the month of October? Were they playing above their abilities then, or are they playing below them now? Can the team win if they don't score 4 or 5 goals a game? Can Cam Ward return to last month's form? Is the team willing to do the hard work that is necessary to grind out a win in a tough, low-scoring game? Do they have the capability to do so? Is a trade needed?
Coach Peter Laviolette has repeatedly said that the team concentrates on playing "their" game, and that he doesn't adjust or change the game plan based upon what the other team is doing. But doesn't it make sense to have a "plan B", just in case your typical game plan isn't working or the other team has made unforeseen adjustments? During the past 2 weeks, it seems that teams have made excellent adjustments and have taken away Carolina's game plan. I can't remember the last odd-man rush the team has had. Granted, when the Canes are on their game and they are skating the way they have shown at times, it's a thing of beauty. But what happens when it's not working? What happens when the other team's defensemen are attacking so much that they are in your crease? Right now what happens, is that they lose. For whatever reason defensemen are having a field day scoring against this team. Maybe adjustments are needed? The Florida Panthers are now just 4 points behind. The Washington game on Friday night is huge!