The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night by a score of 2-1, falling to 1-1-1 on the season and dropping their second game in a row.
It was an ugly one for the Canes as the couldn’t manage to get any quality scoring chances on one of the worst defensive teams in the league through the first week and a half.
Maybe this was the wake-up call that this needed, or maybe this was the start of a very troubling pattern. Let’s talk about last night.
The Hurricanes went 1-4 on the powerplay last night, with their only goal coming on a fake shot from Noah Hanifin leading to a snipe from Jeff Skinner.
Outside of a terrific pass and shot, the man advantage was painful to watch as they couldn’t manage to accomplish anything, whether it was making a clean zone entry, getting bodies in front, or even putting any semblance of a quality shot on goal.
Carolina’s powerplay looks as incompetent as it ever has under Rod Brind’Amour’s leadership, which begs the question of what’s going wrong? Is it Brind’Amour’s strategy, the players’ execution, lack of sufficient talent from the personnel, or all three?
Maybe it’s time to start tinkering with the units. There is one primary shooter on each unit - Justin Faulk on one and Jeff Skinner on the other. They need more than one player on each unit who is willing to shoot the puck and do it competently.
I’d debate that Jaccob Slavin should be getting powerplay time, maybe on the opposite point of Faulk. Slavin can distribute the puck very well, and jumping into that role should only boost his confidence and potentially lead to more 5-on-5 offense from him too.
At this point, powerplays are helping the Hurricanes losing games. Whenever there is a powerplay for the Canes, it seems to just be easily killed off, which only gives the other team momentum.
Whatever the issue is, it needs to be fixed in short order.
Even Strength Woes
Carolina’s powerplay has been tough to watch, but at least they’ve actually found the back of the net on the man advantage over the past two games.
The Hurricanes haven’t scored a 5-on-5 goal over their past two games and, last night, in particular, they couldn’t generate any quality looks. In Winnipeg, the Hurricanes had just one shot on net from below the hash marks. The Jets, who were also pretty quiet offensively, had nine.
Almost all of Carolina’s scoring opportunities came from outside of the hash marks or from the point with no one obstructing the view of Connor Hellebuyck.
Jeff Skinner was asked about the team’s struggles after the game, and he equated it to not wanting it.
“I just think we need to be more hungry,” Skinner said following Saturday’s loss. “We had opportunities and we had opportunities on the powerplay. Yeah, just more hunger. It’s disappointing when that’s the reason because that’s in your control. We need more hunger and desperation, for sure.”
It was apparent that there was very little desperation from this team, start to finish. Bad breakout passes, lack of creativity and a lot of overall sloppy play has plagued Carolina’s even strength offense since opening night.
Maybe Martin Necas could enter the lineup an make a difference. We know what his game is - speed and offense. He can skate, create plays, and make things happen, which is something that the Hurricanes desperately need right now.
Youth Standing Out
Janne Kuokkanen and Haydn Fleury now have three NHL games under their belt, and they have continued to play extremely well.
Kuokkanen generated a couple of good scoring opportunities with his vision and passing in the first period and nearly found the back of the net himself, and Fleury was stable yet again in his own end.
Fleury’s play has been very promising. He is mature and poised both with and without the puck, and he has the skating ability and puck handling prowess to get himself out of trouble if need be.
Not everything has been perfect for the Hurricanes, but the development of these two continue to impress. Kuokkanen (64.71%) and Fleury (55%) both finished with attractive shot attempt differential numbers on Saturday as well.
Moral of the Story
The schedule hasn’t been nice to the Hurricanes early on. Three games so far in the month of October certainly doesn’t do much to put the team in a rhythm, but despite that, they need to be much better than they were on Saturday.
The powerplay has been atrocious and the 5-on-5 offense has been just as bad over the past two games. They need to get into scoring areas and get the puck on net, meaning that they must stop trying to create the perfect shot.
The Hurricanes now have to wait until Tuesday to play again, but after that, they’ll start to routinely play every other day, which should be a big help.
But until then, the Hurricanes will have a bad taste in their mouth from Saturday’s effort in Winnipeg. It’s only been three games, but there needs to be more of a sense of urgency with this team and they have a lot of things that they need to work on offensively.