Stop now if you have heard this story before: The Carolina Hurricanes (3-5-4) lost last night after regulation time had ended. The Canes did manage to take the New Jersey Devils (6-3-3) to a shootout, but nobody for the Hurricanes was able to score. There are a few positives to take away from this game, however, it never ceases to amaze how many points the Hurricanes have lost so far this season due to poor overtime performances.
Cam Ward solidifies number one role
By far the best positive from last night is how well Cam Ward played against the Devils. Going back to the duels of Ward against Brodeur, the longest tenured Hurricane has always played well against the Devils and last night was no exception. Considering these two teams played just a couple days ago and Eddie Lack failed to capitalize on his opportunity once again, Cam Ward stepped up and took over the number one slot last night. Even Section 328 says so, therefore it must be true.
Cam Ward cemented himself as our #1 goalie tonight. There. We said it.— Section 328 (@Section_328) November 9, 2016
Facing 41 shots, Ward stopped 39 of them and made numerous huge saves in second and third period to keep the Canes in the game. In overtime, Ward made likely his best save of the night on Travis Zajac right before the horn sounded to take the game to the skills competition. This game was reminiscent of a Cam Ward from 5-6 years ago that used to put the Hurricanes on his back and keep his team in games single-handedly.
If the Canes want to somehow turn this season around, they desperately need either Ward or Lack to become a stronghold in net. Lack has faltered every chance he has had, both this season and last. Ward, on the other hand, is slowly coming around and is showing signs of possibly being worthy of the discounted extension he received over the offseason. He is now the number one goalie in Raleigh, without any doubt.
With the announcement before the game that Justin Faulk is out week to week with an upper body injury, no one was really sure about how Klas Dahlbeck would fill in. Dahlbeck had been beyond atrocious in the back end thus far, including multiple games where he was benched for the majority of the third period because his play was so poor.
Wipe that slate clean and start over. Dahlbeck had by far his best game in a Hurricanes uniform against the Devils and, more importantly, managed to actually show signs of being a true NHL defenseman. Scoring his first goal for the Canes late in the second period, Dahlbeck proved to be a quality replacement for Faulk, at least for this game.
The pairing of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce made a case last night to be the team’s top pairing on defense. After a rough first period that saw the two be the main contributors to P.A. Parenteau’s first goal, the duo became an offensive threat for the remainder of the game as well as a shutdown pairing on the blue line.
After both players had outstanding rookie seasons last year, it was an open question if they could avoid the sophomore slump. Last night was a perfect example to show that not only can they repeat their performance from last season, but they have actually improved and are now the Canes’ best two defensemen. Don’t believe me? Look at the entrance and pass here by Slavin on Jordan Staal’s goal early in the second period.
The defense allowed Cam Ward to face 41 shots last night. That’s...suboptimal; however, most of those shots were not quality chances. With Faulk out for an unknown amount of time, the Hurricanes must continue to have strong performances from Slavin, Pesce, Dahlbeck (!) and company.
No luck in overtime once more
If the Hurricanes keep up with their trend of taking games to overtime but not earning two points, we here at Canes Country will run out of things to write.
At this point, we can just copy and paste this section from an article from last week and just go with it. It is the same story on repeat week after week. The Carolina Hurricanes have a serious problem in games past regulation time!
The Bill Peters era is quickly becoming known as the era of squandered overtimes. There is no way around it. Year in and year out, the Canes simply cannot win in extra hockey. The amount of points lost in these games since he took over behind the bench is frankly absurd and pretty depressing.
Just this season, in eleven games, the Hurricanes have lost 4 points in overtime games, which is the difference in being the worst team in the East and being tied for a wild card spot. Last season, had the team won half their overtime games they would have been in the hunt till the very end. Yet here we are.
So what truly goes wrong for the Hurricanes in overtime? For one thing, Peters continues to ice some bizarre combinations. At one point last night, in an offensive zone face off, he put Jeff Skinner out there along with two defensemen. That was the only shift Skinner, the most dangerous offensive threat on the Canes roster, played in overtime against the Devils. Why?
The lack of production in overtime has to fall on Peters and his staff. Poor line combinations along with questionable shootout choices have directly led to the problem this team faces. At some point this has to change, yet sadly we have said this time and time and time and time and time again.
Moral of the Story
The Hurricanes blew another third period lead and lost the game after it went past regulation, which is a story all too familiar. While there are positives surrounding the defense and goaltending situation to pull from this game, the major sour point is just something we cannot keep ignoring.
Bill Peters must do something about how his team plays in overtime and during the shootout. If he and his staff cannot muster up something to get the Hurricanes over the hump in these games, the team will continue to be a bottom feeder. In a season with so much promise and hope, the light is quickly fading away.