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About Last Night (Yesterday Afternoon?): Bad, Ugly, & Repulsive

There was a lot of scoring in the NHL’s “Next Century” game. Unfortunately, it was mostly by the Leafs

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Oh my, oh my, where to even begin with this.

We have seen some embarrassingly bad games this year, but yesterday successfully tops the list. How the Carolina Hurricanes could allow an 8-1 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs is almost unfathomable. Yet it happened - and it was bad beyond words.

Talking Points

Make a save, Scott

Obviously a game of hockey is about more than one player on any team and no one player should be blamed for the game yesterday. However, Scott Darling put the team behind the eight ball before they ever had a chance to get going then absolutely nothing to help them get back in to the game. Darling’s struggles over the past month have been well documented and just when you thought he had taken a big step forward on Saturday night, he comes out and gives up eight goals.

Five of the eight goals are completely on Darling yesterday and there’s no questioning it. While there is no need to replay all of the goals, let’s look at a few of them:

It all started with a shorthanded opportunity for Toronto just 2:52 in to the game. Leo Komarov got a pass from Ron Hainsey and created a two on one down the ice. The goaltender is supposed to have the shot but Darling failed to grasp that.

Just a few minutes later Mitch Marner started his four point day off with a simple shot that Darling, once again, failed to stop.

The backbreaking goal came on goal three, after the Canes had brought it to 2-1 and had some momentum. As you can see, Darling makes a great initial save but his inability to contain rebounds strikes again as the puck was easily accessible to James van Riemsdyk to put the Leafs up 3-1.

From there it just gets even uglier, so we will spare you the rest. Darling would allow at least two more goals that he 100% should have stopped and just whiffed. So for as far as that step forward took him Saturday, he leaped back five steps yesterday. This is baffling to Canes fans and Bill Peters’ leaving Darling in for the entire game cannot possibly help Darling’s psyche.

Giving up

The Hurricanes have had multiple examples of totally failing to show up for a game this season, and after each one we have heard the same thing about how they cannot give up on a game. Yet here we are.

In all honesty the Hurricanes were the better team in the second period but they were not able to crack Frederik Andersen beyond Jeff Skinner’s goal in the first. The problem here is the third period, when the Canes visibly gave up .

A 4-1 game, where a few good bounces could quickly get you back in contention, quickly turned to 8-1 and there is no excuse for that. Justin Faulk is likely the biggest example of a player giving up. Just like his predecessor wearing the C, Faulk’s tailing off in adverse circumstances has become habitual, and his play is nowhere close to being where it needs to be.

Elsewhere the likes of Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, and Sebastian Aho were nowhere to be found. There is no leadership on this team aside from Justin Williams and Jeff Skinner. Those two cannot do it alone, but they certainly at least try. The coaching staff sat back and let this happen, and the players did not care one bit.

This team gave up and the final score reflects that which is just sad.

Bill Peters

The head coach of any professional sports team has to be the brunt of scrutiny after any kind of loss like this. Peters has faced far too much scrutiny this year but this may be the worst one yet. He made the decision to stick with Darling, as he has done too many times already this season, and it bit him hard... again. It made no sense to leave Darling in yet he did. It made no sense to give Justin Faulk a C to start the year, yet he did. It made no sense to stick Jeff Skinner on the third line all year, yet he has.

Enough is enough! Peters and his staff have allowed far too many of these games this season where the team literally gives up. Yesterday was the worst of them all and he needs to take responsibility for his team—yet instead, he throws the players under the bus:

While he is not wrong in saying the entire team failed, what he didn’t do was step up and say “I am the head coach and it is my job to ensure they show up to play”. That is just as much the problem as the players themselves.

Moral of the Story

There are a lot of medical professionals in the Triangle, and many could easily diagnose this team with bipolar disorder. The team can come out and play great like they did against Columbus on Saturday, then they come right back and play beyond pitiful like they did yesterday. Its beyond confusing and frustrating. There are some common areas such as poor goaltending by Scott Darling and Bill Peters’ inability to motivate the team, but irregardless it is unacceptable. Yesterday was UNACCEPTABLE. Period!

Now the Canes must have a case of amnesia and completely forget all traces of yesterday because they now have to fly to Nashville to face the best team in the West.

Oh, and by the way, Tom Dundon was on that flight. Awwwwkward!