Well, you can come out from under the covers now. I think the Penguins are gone.
After enduring the most lopsided defeat of the season in a 7-1 drubbing at PNC Arena at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the best thing for the Carolina Hurricanes is likely the fact that they get to go right back at it against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in Ohio. Entering the game with a four game home winning streak, the Canes now must go back to the drawing board to regain the defensive structure, discipline and toughness which led to their extended success over the previous two months.
Decent Start, No Staying Power
The Canes began the game Friday night with good jump and energy, and had multiple good chances from Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Joakim Nordstrom, but could not capitalize. Finally, after an extended stint in their own zone, a turnover from Teuvo Teravainen led to the first of many Penguin goals.
After a well executed chip play from Jaccob Slavin to Teravainen, a tired number 86 attempted a poor flip play out of the zone which was easily gloved by Daley and ripped top-shelf for the first tally.
Nightmare Second Period
In terms of analysis, there is truly not much positive that can be said about the Canes play in the second period. Whether it be the undisciplined penalties taken by Jeff Skinner, being continuously out-worked for loose pucks in front of their own net by the likes of Carl Hagelin, Conner Sheary and Chris Kunitz, or a combination of poor defensive zone turnovers (such as the the one below by Nordstrom) along with getting outworked for loose pucks, the second period may well have been the worst the Canes have played since a few periods during their season opening road trip.
Following an unsportsmanlike penalty by Skinner, which led to a power play goal from the Pens, Skinner and Teravainen were not placed on the ice for the remaining of the game, finishing with 10:22 and 8:56 on the ice respectively. Perhaps this was a message being delivered by Coach Bill Peters, who also intimated after the game that some different faces will be given an opportunity in the lineup tonight in Columbus.
Nothing Much Changed
The third period brought much of the same hockey as the second period, save for the lone bright spot of the Viktor Stalberg breakaway goal on the penalty kill to make the score 6-1 at the time.
In total, the Canes were outshot 41-28, were outscored 7-1, and outclassed for three consecutive periods.
At this point, I am confident everyone has gotten the picture. Last night was an ugly performance. But don’t be fooled, every team carries around a clunker or two such as this every season, no matter how good they are.
The difference is how they respond to these performances. The Canes have a chance tonight to immediately eradicate the sour taste from their mouths. It won’t be easy in Columbus, but the highly competitive race for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference will not look kindly upon teams that cannot shake off their worst performance of the season and respond with a quality effort the following night. We should see more of the character of this team revealed on Saturday.