The Carolina Hurricanes (3-6-4) continued their disappointing November campaign last night against the Anaheim Ducks (7-5-3). A terrible power play and a Hurricanes team with little drive to win combined to result in a 4-2 loss which was truly a tale of two very different teams: a potential playoff team and a bottom dweller. Sadly, we all know which one of those two the Canes are.
Early season pains continue
Every year, for what seems like a decade now, the Carolina Hurricanes put themselves so far behind in October and November that they can never catch back up. We are now at the point that the Canes have basically put themselves in that position yet again. But how could that have happened? This year was truly supposed to be different.
The Hurricanes have failed in almost every aspect of their game except the penalty kill so far this season. Nonexistent offense more often than not? Check. Shaky goaltending? Check. Power play that can’t score? Check. Getting way behind in games? Check. Blowing leads late? Check. Overtime woes? Major check. Losing far too many games? Check.
Last night against the Ducks showed us many of these issues, which is exactly why the Canes lost. Just look at Anaheim’s first goal, an all around bad play by everyone. A sad summary of most of the season so far.
The year-in and year-out early game pains have plagued the franchise for far too long yet have never truly been addressed. Bill Peters has not held players accountable so far this season, nor has the team showed a desire to call up young successful players from Charlotte. They have waited too long to make any changes to fix the problems and therefore have put themselves, once again, behind the eight ball before we even hit December.
Pathetic Power Play
If we eliminate the initial road trip to start the season, the Hurricanes power play has been really bad. The team has not been good on the power play for more games than not now and last night versus the Ducks was a prime example.
With Justin Faulk out of the lineup, the team has nobody to quarterback the power play (although even with him it wasn’t much better). Ryan Murphy cannot do the job he was drafted to do. Neither Jaccob Slavin nor Brett Pesce are offensively talented enough to do it. Jeff Skinner can’t do everything, try as he might. So the team continues to have no true quarterback to get the team in the zone and, once there, to hold the zone. Currently if the Canes are not playing at 5 on 5, they are not scoring.
At one point earlier in the season, the Canes had one of the top power play units in the league, and special teams were a major reason they were able to put up so many points. So where is that power play at now? Teams are shutting Skinner down and roughing him up which is limiting what he can do offensively.
Beyond Skinner, it’s simple: the team lacks scoring. Nobody on the team is producing any sort of respectable offensive numbers besides Skinner and Victor Rask. Lack of power play production from guys like Elias Lindholm, Sebastian Aho, and Teuvo Teravainen is preventing the Canes from having any consistent threat with the extra man. Until they start scoring and creating more chances for Skinner to finish, the Canes will continue to ride the struggle bus with the power play. It’s not the way to turn a season around.
Oh Caniacs, it is that time of the year, isn’t it? The time where the team falls further and further behind in the standings with no fan support to potentially help them win a game.
PNC Arena was so empty Thursday night you could hear echoes on TV. An official attendance number of 8,086 is generous and a prime reason why the relocation rumors continue to swirl. Reading this article proves that you likely in some way care about the Hurricanes, but do you care enough to help keep the team from moving to Canada? If so, then go physically support the team at home.
An arena full of people truly makes a difference in a game. Look at the home opener as an example. A packed house helped the Hurricanes grab a rare victory. Yet now, PNC is a ghost town. Is the team struggling? Yes. Would a full house make a difference? Quite possibly. When Terravinen scored last night there should’ve been a bolt of energy shot through the heart of PNC Arena, yet it was far too quiet.
The Hurricanes have hurt themselves in a lot of cases when it comes to attendance numbers by continuing to raise prices year after year and fielding a bad product on ice. This is unfortunate because hockey has proven to be successful in Raleigh when the team wins. However, true long-term success depends largely on fans getting out and supporting this team, win or lose, before it is too late.
Comeback falls short
This season has been summed up by games in one of three categories: OT loss, getting behind early only to fail on a comeback, or losing a lead in the third period resulting in a loss. Last night fell into the second of those categories.
The Canes failed to stop the Ryan Kesler/Jakob Silfverberg show and found themselves behind 3-0 in the second period. Once again, the home team dug a hole so deep they couldn’t get out no matter how hard they tried.
At one point Rask, Skinner and Lee Stempniak ended up on the ice together by way of a partial change and lo and behold, they scored on a beautiful play as seen below. Why that trio was broken up is still beyond me.
Then the physicality came out resulting in the gloves dropping between Viktor Stalberg and Josh Manson. At this point fans were starting to think a comeback was actually possible. Then the offense laid an egg in the third, only creating a few good chances. Comeback failed.
The Hurricanes have had multiple chances this season where they faced a multiple goal deficit and were unable to complete the comeback. They seem to be able to pull back to within one as they did against the Ducks, but do not have the extra gear to tie the game up and then win. The slow starts and being down 3-0 in the second at home are, frankly, embarrassing. The team desperately needs success during this home stand to claw their way back up the standings, but this was emphatically not the way to start that process.
Moral of the Story
The Hurricanes are now 3-6-4. Let that sink in. In the year the Canes were tipped by many to finally be a playoff team, they instead sit last in the league 13 games in. The head honchos are choosing to sit back and let the team fall too far behind instead of making proactive changes while there is still a glimmer of hope.
The rest of this home stand is extremely important. The Canes need to come away with wins because if they do not, they will be out of the hunt by Thanksgiving. The Ducks showed us a model of a successful team, just as the Caps will Saturday night, and in the first test we failed. If the Canes want to play with the big dogs in April, they need to start biting like a bulldog instead of the Chihuahua nibble we currently have going on. Here’s to turning things around, starting with the Caps on Saturday.