If you went to bed early last night, you sure did miss a lot of action by the Carolina Hurricanes and San Jose Sharks. Depending on what time you went to bed, maybe you thought you’d be waking up to read a nice happy article about the Canes routing the Sharks.
Unfortunately, that is not what this article is going to be.
The Hurricanes managed to blow 3-0 and 4-1 leads to eventually lose 5-4 to the Sharks in overtime. A game that should have never gotten close to OT was riddled with miscues and lack of effort once the Canes went up 4-1. When Sharks bite they go for the kill, and needless to say they succeeded at that last night.
Failures on Special Teams
Can we really start anywhere other than the obvious here? The Hurricanes, who have been horrible at scoring 5 on 5, actually managed to put up four goals at even strength - yet they gave them all back thanks to special teams play.
The Sharks first goal came while shorthanded. The goal is shown below and while Noah Hanifin probably should have layer out on the ice to try and stop the pass, he honestly played it well. He was just outwaited on the 2 on 1 and there was nothing Cam Ward could do.
The real issue with this goal was the horrific line change that led to the odd-man rush. It’s unclear if there was a lack of communication or if someone just blew an assignment, but Hanifin and Ward were hung totally out to dry by the other four guys on the ice.
Next up, we have a power play goal late in the second period by Joe Thornton. Justin Faulk failed to get in the lane and Tomas Hertl provided a perfect screen. There was nothing fancy here; just a perfectly placed shot from a guy who almost always chooses to pass instead of shoot.
The problem with this goal is the momentum it gave the Sharks. Down 4-1 late in the second, all the Canes needed to do was kill the penalty and get to the locker room. Yet they couldn't do that.
Here’s where it starts to get really ugly. Justin Faulk takes an interference penalty eight minutes in to the third and you can guess what’s about to happen: Logan Couture fires a one timer past Ward to bring the Sharks within one. Brett Pesce leaves Couture wide open and Brent Burns found him for a pretty easy goal.
At this point you could tell the Canes were gonna Cane and blow this game, it was just a matter of how. Well, it turns out the “how” is by showing that their power play unit can somehow find new depths by allowing the other team to score AGAIN while the Canes had the man advantage.
Justin WIlliams and Noah Hanifin play this puck like they are in midgets while the Sharks are a real NHL team. There is absolutely no excuse for allowing that goal to happen. Period. But yet it did.
So with all that being said, the Canes managed to give up two power play goals on three chances and went minus-2 on their own power play. That’s truly the story of the game and one that is utterly unacceptable.
The Hurricanes came out flying to start the game and showed every bit of hustle needed to win. Sebastian Aho scored twice in the first period and Victor Rask added one as well. All of the goals were at even strength which the Canes have struggled mightily with so far this year. Headed in to the first intermission there was reason to believe the Canes had responded well to not showing up in Vancouver and they were actually on a mission to win.
After the first goal by Aho the Canes roared back and Rask scored this beauty off a very good Elias Lindholm backhanded pass.
Great forechecking and a nice pass from Teuvo Teravainen set up the third goal. This was the illustrious third goal that Bill Peters talked about. Sadly the Canes let up after this and the rest was just bad.
In a story far too common, the Canes appeared to forget that they had to play 60 minutes instead of just 20. The team had life and scored at even strength, which was the biggest thing they have needed over the past few weeks. Yet when they finally find it, it comes at the expense of the rest of their game. The Canes have to be able to take away the positives and drown out the heartbreak as they head to LA next.
Yeah, I’m going there. If you look at the stat sheet and see that Cam Ward gave up five goals last night, there will surely be calls saying Ward still sucks and needs to get lost. But Cam Ward is the only reason that team even made it to overtime. The team quit on him and he had every right to break his stick after the overtime goal.
Ward was looking for his 300th career win last night and he should have had it. If you want to blame the Thornton goal on him, fine. But it was a perfect shot through a perfect screen. The OT goal he probably could've stopped — but once again he should've never been in that position to have to make that stop.
So yes, poor Cam. He got screwed by the 18 skaters on the ice last night and arguably by the men behind the bench as well. Saying that last night was on Cam is being totally unfair to him because that man is one of the very few on this team who demonstrably cares and wants to win each night.
When John Forslund and Tripp Tracy are at a loss for words after the game you know something went horribly wrong. The Sharks had no business winning that game but yet they found a way. The Hurricanes has no business losing that game, yet they found a way. Honestly, its hard to decipher which game in this stretch has been the worst loss. When you lose six out of eight, you’d expect there to be some consequences, yet so far there appears to be none.
Nobody should advocate for another person to lose their job, especially when it isn’t all their fault, but something needs to change ASAP and that has to start behind the bench. From the pathetic losses to the Rangers to completely not showing up to play in Vancouver, and now this, someone has to be held accountable.
Ron Francis has the power to make a significant change and he is sitting back (while traveling with the team in person on the trip, remember) and watching the team falter once again. If the season hasn't already slipped away it will be gone extremely fast.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look back to the last time the Hurricanes made the playoffs. It all started December 4th, 2008. Jim Rutherford decided to fire Peter Laviolette and bring in a new (kind of) coach in Paul Maurice. The team at the time was 12-11-2 and had lost nine of 16 games. Rutherford said at the time “We have a team that right now that, in my opinion, is not playing with the kind of confidence it needs. We've lost that confidence."
Currently the Hurricanes sit at 11-10-6, have lost six out of eight and 12 of their last 19. They certainly have the peices to be a better team than they are but something isn't clicking. There is no guarantees that a coaching change fixes things, but the current staff has lost touch with this team and have shown little reason to believe things will change.
Moral of the Story
Things are bleak for the Hurricanes. For as much optimism as this team had entering the season, we are still sitting here with the same old mess that we have had for nine years now. Accountability cannot be imposed on just the players and management needs to step up. Last night was a perfect illustration of Hurricanes hockey thanks to a colossal collapse. Sadly, it doesn't paint a very pretty picture.
There will never be an excuse for blowing 3-0 and 4-1 leads in a game you know you have to win. Until something drastic is done, what will keep this from repeatedly happening? We all knew this road trip could easily be the dagger in the heart of any slight playoff hopes left, and that is exactly what has become of it. It’s quite a sad and annoying time to be a Canes fan. One can only hope things will turn around soon.
Oh, and welcome to Hurricanes hockey, Mr. Dundon.