I am not very happy, and you shouldn’t be either.
The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the second-to-league-worst Arizona Coyotes last night by a final score of 4-2. Over the past three weeks, the Canes have lost to the worst and second-worst teams in the league on home ice. The Hurricanes haven’t won a game since February 5.
I’m just going to go ahead and write some things about the hockey match that occurred last night. I may get distracted and go on tangents, but just stick with me and I promise that we’ll learn some valuable lessons along the way.
The Pit of Despair
As the clock continues to tick, second by second, we fall deeper into the pit of despair.
At the bottom of the pit, we find Ryan Murphy, who had another tough night on Friday as his ugly turnover in the third period led to Arizona’s game-winning tally and he logged a team-low 10:31 of ice time. I remind you that he is a defenseman... There are fewer of them so they tend to play more than forwards... Ryan Murphy played very little... Methinks the coaching staff isn’t a fan of him, and they shouldn't be.
To his credit, he made two plays that were memorable in a positive way. He made a crafty move at the blue line in the second period to keep a play alive and create a good offensive chance and he also had a nifty play, also at the offensive blue line, where he made a nice pump fake with the puck and then threw a shot on net.
I really want to like Murphy and believe that he has a shot to be a Hurricane for the long term.
But, unfortunately, nah.
His sporadic impressive displays of skill and skating ability do not justify that he is a defensive liability. He just is a liability and I don’t think that any advanced numbers can defend that at this point.
We’ll probably see a lot from Murphy going down the stretch given that he should be exposed at the expansion draft, but boy, does he have a long way to go before turning into a serviceable NHL defenseman.
Whose Mans is This? Definitely Not Bill’s...
Twitter is a truly awful social media platform, which is why I love it.
Yesterday, Twitter was full of hot takes revolving around Bill Peters’ choice words on Eddie Lack and his performance this season.
Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters doesn't seem too happy with the play of goaltender Eddie Lack pic.twitter.com/z1kuIGS0Vv— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 3, 2017
As the hip boys would say, I “lol’ed” at how blunt Peters was about Lack.
Lack has a big fanbase here, and I completely understand why that is, but it’s hard to necessarily argue with what the coach said. However, there is an argument to be made about how he said it and whether or not it should have happened in a media scrum as opposed to behind closed doors.
Also, aren't all saves “timely saves”? I’ve never watched one of Carolina’s goalies make a save and go “wow, this was a really bad time to make a save. I would have much preferred him to not make the save”.
I'm a bit torn on it. By no means is this some egregious act from Bill Peters. He’s clearly just frustrated that this team continues to get well-below average goaltending. And it is, in fact awful. As Peters said, “let’s not kid ourselves”.
goaltending performance (expected goals less actual) by team. WSH, CLB, CHI benefited most so far, PHI, CAR, COL least. NJ, NYR (!?) average pic.twitter.com/eeCARf5qL2— Cole Anderson (@CrowdScoutSprts) March 2, 2017
I mean, don't you have to feel bad for the guy? It’s not like goaltending has only been a hot button topic this year. It’s been bad ever since he took the job, regardless of the improvements this team has made in other areas.
last year goaltending by team. bottom 3 teams moved out 11/12 goalies, the other (Price) was given a mountain man bodyguard pic.twitter.com/QuYKebe61t— Cole Anderson (@CrowdScoutSprts) March 2, 2017
goaltending performance 2014-15. CHI, NYR, MTL best. pic.twitter.com/PKcAfUuXWN— Cole Anderson (@CrowdScoutSprts) March 2, 2017
Yeah, Carolina’s goaltending is bad, but there’s more to this team’s failures than goaltending.
Who do we blame for their constant poor starts? Who do we blame for their inability to put the puck in the net consistently? Who do we blame for their lack of willingness to play a full sixty minutes of hockey?
It’s rather difficult to blame those things on the goaltending, so you look at skaters and you also look at the coaching staff. It just feels like we’re having the same issues that we had with Kirk Muller - bad goaltending, poor coverage in the defensive zone, 40-minutes efforts, and inability to score with any consistency.
Obviously, there’s more to the problem than Eddie Lack, so perhaps Peters should focus more on getting his team ready to play and not so much blasting your backup goalie in a media scrum.
He was being brutally honest, which I can appreciate, but, at this point of the season, who are you helping by throwing Eddie to the wolves?
I want to see some more of Lack down the stretch because, at this point, why not? He’s only played in ten games this year, so you might as well get him in a groove going down the stretch and attempt to get the most out of him, but based on Peters’ comments, I’m not too sure that will happen.
On an unrelated note, why did Jeff Skinner start the game with Jay McClement? Is McClement an incredibly talented offensive player who could only elevate Skinner’s play? Obviously, yes, but I would’ve expected something different. Eventually, Skinner came off of McClement’s line, likely because he couldn’t keep up with his elite skill set.
Some Good Stuff Happened too
Let’s end this with some happy thoughts.
Justin Faulk is playing his best hockey of the season. On the top pairing with Jaccob Slavin, Faulk logged a game-high 27:23 of ice time on Friday and was really peachy.
His increase in minutes ever since Hainsey left has been doing him good, and you can see his confidence go up on a game-by-game basis.
For my money, Jordan Staal has been Carolina’s best forward this season, and he was great last night too. He scored the tying goal in the second period and his ability to play both sides of the ice so effectively continues to stun me.
Phil Di Giuseppe is just a delight. He’s fast, he finishes hits, he is defensively responsible, and he gets to the dirty areas. He nearly scored in his first shift of the game but was denied by the post.
In a lot of ways, he reminds me of the recently departed Viktor Stalberg, which makes me excited about his future and makes me question why he was sent down in the first place.
P.S. I miss you, Viktor. Please come back. We will not forsake you again.