Happy New Year's everyone! It's not a happy New Year's Day for the Carolina Hurricanes though, who closed their practice to the public this morning after their disappointing 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders last night. Some fans are wondering if coach Laviolette is putting the team through a bag skate? They certainly need something to wake them from their doldrums of constantly sleepwalking through the 2nd period of hockey games.
Last night's first period was a good one, but things deteriorated quickly as soon as the 2nd period started. Without getting into too much detail, the Islanders used and abused the Carolina penalty killers for 3 goals in that period, and added an even strength one for good measure. That's correct, they scored 4 goals in one period.
John Grahame started in net for the Canes and was taken out after the 3rd goal. While I can't lay all the blame on the goalie, he wasn't being aggressive enough and was back in his crease, perhaps making the goals easier than they needed to be for New York. The Carolina penalty kill was pathetic though, allowing wide open shots from a variety of positions on the ice. If it could have dropped any lower than 30th in the league, it would have.
Craig Adams had the lone goal for the Canes, which was also scored in the 2nd period. The 3rd period was an exercise in futility as Carolina sometimes looked like the keystone cops on ice. Of course the Islanders were in defensive mode and played it well, choking off most of the attempts of their opponents. The New Yorkers played a very good game and should be commended.
The game put the Canes at the season's midpoint, so it's time to do some number crunching and some comparing. Let's take a look at the team's stats so far this year.
- record 20-18-3
- points 43
- GF 126 GA 132
Now let's look at the same stats at this time last year. Keep in mind, last year was a huge disappointment after the team was one of the few in NHL history to fail to make the playoffs after winning the Stanley Cup.
- record 21-16-4
- points 46
- GF 125 GA 128
That's correct, the Hurricanes were actually in a better position last year at this time, than they are this year. That is taking into consideration the tremendous start to the season that this team had. Since that hot start, the Canes have a losing record, (6-9 in the month of December). While the team may have a false sense of security because they hold a slim lead in the Southeast Division, many of the other teams in the division are trending up, while the Canes are trending down.
So, where are the Canes right now and what needs to be done? Not only do they have key injuries, (Williams and Cullen), they appear to have a bonafide goalie controversy on their hands because the coach can't seem to make a decision between 2 mediocre goalies. At this time, why not try to bring up Michael Leighton? (I think that this blog has asked that question before?) Even if he is grabbed on the waiver re-entry, another team would have to release their 2nd string goalie and the Canes could snatch him. It might be worth the gamble.
The goaltending seems to be the least of the Hurricanes problems though. Their defense is absolutely porous and is not easily correctable. Most of the team seems uninspired and lacks confidence. For instance, they looked energetic and capable in the 1st period, but as soon as things didn't go their way in the 2nd, they practically collapsed.
At times last night, it looked like the team needed to be sent back to hockey 101. They were making mistakes that students are taught not to do in "stick and puck" classes. Things like, continually losing the puck while trying to control it with just one hand on your stick. (that one drives me crazy). Continually making dangerous, blind passes which are intercepted. Continually trying to make the fancy play, instead of the hardworking play. In my opinion, the team just needs to get back to the basics and work hard and give 100% on every shift.
Could it really be so simple? Of course not, but it would be a start. We'll look at some more numbers, stats, and opinions tonight. Gotta run! Ciao!