Make it four straight! Oh wait, not the good kind of four straight.
For the first time all season the Carolina Hurricanes have dropped four straight games in regulation, and three of them have been really bad - including last night.
The start of the game seemed promising with the Canes scoring first but from there forward the Caps scored 6 straight goals to turn the Hurricanes in to a mild tropical disturbance. On somewhat of a repeat, let us dive in to what happened that lead to another blowout loss on the road for the Canes.
The Hurricanes seem to just either have terrible luck on the road, now sporting a conference-worst 6-14-6 mark away from home, or flat out forget how to play when they wear white. Imagine if the Canes had won just 5 of those 20 total losses on the road? The Canes would be in the final wild card spot, with a small comfort zone. But instead they sit where they are, in a dogfight that seems impossible to win.
Last night displayed everything wrong with the Hurricanes’ road game. The team can come out strong and show life, but as soon as they get behind they seem to lose all confidence. After the Caps scored their second goal, the flood gates opened and the team could never find a way to stop the bleeding. The power play scored the first goal of the game for the Canes and then never showed up again despite numerous opportunities.
Lastly, the offense left their sticks in Raleigh. The team took a decent amount of shots but very few were of quality chances. There’s little to no chance you will beat two of the best goalies in the league (Sergei Bobrovsky and Braden Holtby) without your best forwards (I’m speaking to you, Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask) showing up to play.
Many media members spoke what all Caniacs were thinking after the game.
Canes look like they're hitting the wall as a group. Last four games have taken a toll. Need to beat Kings or won't be very restful AS break— Chip Alexander (@ice_chip) January 24, 2017
I suppose a plane ride home with your dad after a loss like this is a just punishment.— Jamie Kellner (@jbkellner) January 24, 2017
Not really sure what happened in the span of a week and a half, but it's unacceptable.— Cardiac Cane (@CardiacCane) January 24, 2017
Cam Ward Says… Yes?
The legendary John Forslund has made a living since 2006 with two primary calls during games. A “Hey Hey Whadda Ya Say” when the Canes put the games away, and “Cam Ward says NO!” Year after year Ward has put the Hurricanes on his back and carried them to victory. For the majority of the season up until last week this year has truly been the Cam Ward show. The team lives and dies with Cam. So it is no surprise that in his worst stretch in years (17 goals against in 3 games played) the Hurricanes have been embarrassed in all 3 games.
Last night Cam looked strong during the first period but then someone must have slipped him a sleeping pill during intermission because he appeared to be asleep the rest of the game. We can cut him a break on a few of the goals because his defense completely let him down by not clearing the crease (see below: Ty Rattie on the 3rd goal). Rattie failed to clear the crease and Cam never saw the puck until he was cleaning it out of his net. Newsflash, Mr. Rattie: if you want your goalie to stop the puck he needs to be able to see it, so don’t just stand in front of him and play patty cake with the opponents in front of the net.
If — and that’s becoming a large “if” now — the Hurricanes want to turn the ship around and get back on track, they will absolutely need Cam Ward to find his game from earlier this season. That being said, Cam needs help. He cannot be expected to play 20+ straight games and keep going strong. Whether it is Michael Leighton or Eddie Lack (heck, Jorge Alves even!), Cam needs a suitable backup to give him a night off going forward. He may need the All-Star break more than any other player on the roster at this point.
Jeffery Skinner, Where Art Thou?
Jeff Skinner was not noticeable at all last night in Washington. Much like Ward, the Hurricanes need Skinner to step up and take over games. In a matchup with the best team in the league, you need your best forward to put the team on his back and lead them to a victory. Instead, last night Skinner appeared to be more concerned with checking out the National Mall after the game than playing hockey.
While he didn’t do anything that really negatively affected the team he didn’t do anything to positively affect them either. The same can be said for the rest of the entire forward group minus maybe Sebastian Aho and Brock McGinn. But no one’s paying to see, say, Joakim Nordstrom take over a game. That’s Skinner’s role, and since being named the third star of the week last Monday he’s posted bagels in four straight games (all losses, naturally) and found himself benched after a pair of undisciplined penalties. Put simply, the Hurricanes don’t win when Skinner doesn’t show up.
Skinner was outplayed by his opponents, and it wasn't even Alex Ovechkin (held to one assist in a five-goal win) that did all the damage. Skinner could take a few notes from former Hurricane Justin Williams who scored a big goal and set up another that really put the Canes down.
Moral of the Story
The Hurricanes faced their biggest challenge of the season over the past four games and they failed miserably. We knew that this week was a measuring stick to see how far the Canes had come and whether they were ready to mount a serious playoff run; now we know the answer. It was an embarrassing week, from being knocked off twice in Columbus to letting Penguins fans take over PNC Arena. Getting pasted in DC was just the icing on the disgusting cake the Hurricanes served to their fans the past week.
Last night we saw unacceptable play from the guys who get paid millions to represent the black and red. Now they face the daunting task of chasing down the Flyers and Leafs, with the rest of the Eastern Conference nipping at their heels. The last four games need to be forgotten ASAP and Bill Peters needs to crack a bigger whip to get the boys back in shape. There’s one game left before the All-Star break, and it is almost a must win game, not just for the standings but for the morale and overall well-being of the Hurricanes franchise and fans.