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About Last Night: The Race To… 3?

Embarrassing, unmotivated, disappointing, typical: all words that come to mind when thinking back on last night.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Do you guys feel the heat yet? No, I’m not speaking of the air temperature in your house now that fall has arrived. I’m talking about the heat that has to be coming to Bill Peters’ job safety. After the… um, interesting, choice of benching your star player versus Anaheim when the team absolutely needed to score a goal, Peters preached once again about the race to three goals in the NHL.

Welp, the Canes got to three goals last night, but that was nowhere near enough against the Colorado Avalanche.

It would be extremely easy to type out about 3,000 words on everything wrong with last night, but let’s see if we can find write a SparkNotes version and just recap the key issues.

Talking Points

Coaching Failures

Is it even possible to start this point from last night without asking what on Earth was Bill Peters doing when he challenged the Avs’ fourth goal? As it was pointed out by Tripp Tracy on the broadcast, it wasn’t even a close challenge. Maybe Peters forgot about the new rule this year where the team that loses a challenge is penalized. Maybe he needs to visit Eye Care Associates (Visionary!) for some glasses.

Either way, it was a totally absurd coaching move. The only thing I can think of that would be more absurd would be sitting your one elite offensive player in the last ten minutes of a one goal game and then the following overtime.

Oh wait.

But seriously folks, my colleagues here at Canes Country could throw fancy charts at you about why trying to only get to three goals is not a good strategy, but I’m going to just give you the old eye test. The Canes looked bad last night, period.

Peters and his coaching staff claimed back in training camp that the expectations where higher entering this season and therefore the team would be held to a higher standard. A month in and all we have seen is the same crap that has plagued his teams for multiple seasons now. No offense, sticking star players with what should be AHL’ers, and a power play that leaves you screaming at your TV.

Now this may sound like more a rant than an analysis about last night, which is admittedly not completely off base, but still that are other examples last night that shows Peters’ questionable coaching decisions aside from the challenge.

Let’s take a look at his line choices. He started the game burying Jeff Skinner with Derek Ryan and Josh freaking Jooris, then after the team got down, instead of combining his star power, he simply swapped Skinner with Sebastian Aho. While Aho and Skinner both individually sparked and created some chances, the idea that by elevating one of your two stars and in turn burying your other one will somehow put three goals in the board is crazy.

Then there is Rod Brind’Amour’s power play. Enough said there after years of that experiment.

Can we have our elite defense back now? Pretty please with loads of tender pork on top?

If there is one player on the Hurricanes who has been truly consistently good for the past two years it has been Jaccob Slavin. Unfortunately for the Canes, it seems Slavin just cannot play with anyone other than Brett Pesce. When the season started, Bill Peters paired Slavin with Justin Faulk for all of about a period. It didn’t work. With Pesce sidelined due to a concussion, Slavin was paired with Trevor van Riesmdyk last night. Guess what: it didn’t work either. Slavin was beaten badly on multiple goals and was quieter than a mouse on Christmas Eve in the offensive zone. Don’t believe me? Colorado’s fourth goal is a prime example.

Now Slavin isn’t the only one to pinpoint on defense that had a bad night. There was also Haydn Fleury, Klas Dahlbeck, Noah Hanifin, Justin Faulk and TVR...all bad too. Still don’t believe me? See for yourself.

From being beat out in front to failing to stop passing in the slot I am fairly certain there are some players on the Florida Everblades or ECU Club hockey team that could have done a better job than these guys last night.

Bill Peters, no matter how ridiculous his decisions may be, has gotten this club to a point where they have to win games by suffocating teams defensively in order for his team to win. What we saw last night was the exact opposite of what you can’t let happen when you are unable to score.

Credit where credit is due

The Avs won the game last night and they deserve a lot of credit for doing so. Victor Rask opened the scoring less than a minute in and the momentum quickly went to Carolina.

Even after the Avs took a 2-1 lead, Elias Lindholm’s goal to tie it brought life to the Canes.

From there the Canes went on to put up 60 (no that is not a typo) shots on goal. Semyon Varlamov stopped a career high 57 shots and certainly ate some Wheaties before the contest.

However, while that stat makes Varlamov look like a Vezina finalist, the Hurricanes maybe had one actual scoring chance out of those 60 shots. So, while we should give credit where it is due to Varlamov, we also need to take a second and look at how pathetic that 60-shot performance was by the Canes.

Tghree goals on 60 shots in not enough. Zero powerplay goals on 60 shots in unacceptable. Tripp Tracy can glorify Ryan Miller and Varlamov all he wants but at the end of the day the Canes had chances and did not score. The Hurricanes need to take a long look in the mirror and ask themselves how many times can they get away with saying “Oh, we just ran in to a hot goalie, it’ll get better”, before they realize the goaltenders they face aren’t the issue, yet the issues is themselves.

On the opposite of the goaltending battle, Cam Ward undoubtedly struggled in his third game of the season. Colorado’s second goal was a terrible short side goal that screamed typical old Cam Ward.

That being said, blaming Ward for the whole thing is so far from the truth. The defense, offense, coaches, and the goaltending failed the Hurricanes last night. So, do not go around saying Ward gave up five goals again, he sucks and is washed up, why did we trade Lack, etc. Go around and speak about how the entire team, players and coaches, blew the game.

Moral of the Story

Folks, we could spend all day talking about the little plays from last night that killed the Canes. From Klas Dahlbeck tripping Victor Rask on the Avs’ third goal, to Cam Ward’s inability to gather a rebound on the fourth goal, to the abysmal power play unit that couldn’t put goals on the board, but we don’t have time to decipher all of that.

Bill Peters should stand up and take responsibility for the game against the Ducks and for his decisions last night. Obviously he won’t, but he should. Putting up 60 shots on goal should normally be something to gloat about but last night it just embarrassed the team because they didn’t put up the goals to match. So there’s no need to point the finger at one player or another; just keep in mind when you look back at last night, the Hurricanes actually achieved what they’ve been trained to do try to accomplish under this coaching staff… simply get to 3 goals.