The good news is that Cam Ward played one of his best games of the season for Carolina last night. The bad news is that the rest of the Hurricanes wasted his outstanding effort. The Nashville Predators outlasted the Carolina Hurricanes last night, 1-0 in a defensive minded contest. But the worst news of all is that Chad LaRose broke his leg early in the game and mostly likely will be lost for the rest of the season.
The loss of LaRose can't be measured by the stat sheet alone because he was the clown of the dressingroom, the player who kept the rest of the team loose. He also provided much needed energy night after night and might have been the skater who consistently showed the most effort on the team. Chad was hurt on a freakish play when he appeared to catch a rut in the ice and snapped his leg as he tried to change direction and crashed into the boards. The "Chuck Norris of Hockey" will certainly be missed by fans.
Other than Cam Ward, I don't think that there is much positive to talk about concerning the game. I was listening to Mike Maniscalco on 99.9 The Fan afterwards and he seemed to think that the Hurricanes played pretty well and showed a lot of effort. I disagree. While I can't really judge the effort and won't comment on it, I think that was one of the sloppiest games I have witnessed. Carolina's passing was horrid and there were several turnovers in their own zone. Cam Ward was continually making outstanding saves on point blank attempts while his counterpart, Chris Mason's saves seemed routine in nature. The game could have easily been 3 or 4 to 0.
While the shot total was up for Carolina, (31), the quality of their chances was much different than Nashville's. The Hurricanes seemed content to continually cycle the puck, then eventually pass it to the perimeter for a low percentage, long range shot. The shot chart seems to back this perception up as the defensemen took most of Carolina's shots. Wesley had 4, Gleason had 4, Kaberle had 4, Wallin had 3, and Commodore had 1 for a total of 16. While it's nice that the blueliners are making more of an attempt to get involved in the offense, I don't think that they should be taking the majority of shots on goal for the game. Where were the forwards?
There was very little traffic in front of the net. There were no odd man rushes or breakaway attempts. The powerplay was ineffective. The best Carolina chance of the night was when a puck somehow squirted out in front of the goal and Chris Mason didn't see it. Trevor Letowski was the closest Cane, but was a step slow getting to the puck and missed on the chance.
Nashville's lone goal came on a 3 on 1 rush late in the game. The Preds top line of Arnott, Radulov, and Dumont came up the ice against Glen Wesley, who didn't have a prayer. Neither did Ward who tried his best on the play, but one nice cross ice pass from Arnott to Dumont was enough to win the game for Nashville. Caniacs might have been thinking that Carolina would at least mount an exciting final couple of minutes in a frantic attempt to tie the game, but even then the team was unable to generate any decent pressure.
This leaves the Hurricanes in an extremely vulnerable position when they travel to Washington for their next game on Friday night. Both Washington and Florida won last night, so both teams are now just one point behind Carolina and Atlanta. It's a 4 team logjam in the division, and the Capitals will be fired up bigtime for the opportunity to knock off the 1st place Canes and catapult themselves into first. Will Carolina be able to match their intensity?
It's extremely poor timing for the Hurricanes offense to suddenly disappear as they have only scored 1 goal in their last 120 minutes of hockey. Will they be able to find their offense again in time?