This past weekend was supposed to be a very special one in Raleigh. New ownership welcomed in on Friday giving us all goosebumps as he preached success was more important than money. A major divisional game with a chance to send a message by defeating the Capitals two nights in a row. The 7th annual Alumni game with the likes of Tim Gleason and Bryan Bickell. Then a Sunday matinee against a hot Calgary Flames team on Teacher Appreciation day.
But after all of the hype and fun that centered around early Friday, the weekend will go down, at least on the ice, as downright depressing.
The fate of this outcome was sealed by an outright beating from the Flames yesterday afternoon. To pour salt deep in to our wounds, Sebastian Aho was head hunted and had to be assisted off the ice in what could easily be a very serious injury for the young forward. With the bye-week now in full effect the Carolina Hurricanes need to get their stuff together and come back with some real desire to win because the second half of the season is not going to go well the way they have been playing.
From the moment the puck dropped yesterday the Canes looked like they couldn’t care less about taking two points. Bill Peters said after the game he hopes it was just the flu bug going around, but it truly looked like the team was still depressed over Friday’s result. Which is somewhat understandable, in all fairness, any team has a right to be depressed about losing a game the way they did, but it shouldn’t still be bothering you nearly 44 hours later. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, that is exactly what occurred.
The first period was absolutely dominated by the Flames and the Canes managed to allow Matt Stajan to score his first goal since March of 2017.
What you cannot see in that replay in Justin Faulk making a terrible play at the offensive blue line to give the Flames the puck. Then he gets completely beat entering the Canes zone forcing Jaccob Slavin to try out the “I’m gonna try to slide tackle you” move (which he failed on too). Scott Darling is then unable to locate the puck and the rout is on from there.
The effort would still remain nonexistent as the game went on. The second goal scored by Dougie Hamilton was a simple wrist shot that only Darling could miss. While the Canes would show up here and there throughout the second period they never really challenged Mike Smith and seriously looked like they had one eye on the bye-week door. After the way they have performed over the past 10 days the team had to know this was not acceptable.
As the teams started the third period it was still a 2-0 game and Caniacs had a glimmer of hope that maybe the team would muster something knowing they had the next five days off. While no real effort was immediately obvious the events that unfolded would at least spark the Canes briefly.
Mark Giordano was given a match penalty for his head hunting hit on Sebastian Aho at the 45 second mark of the third period. Justin Williams was the only Hurricane to step up for an obviously injured Aho (more on that later) but was then given an instigator penalty.
Side note: Gotta love the NHL, where a guy can likely concuss a player, but should a teammate step in to defend his injured compatriot he gets penalized.
Dirty hit. Giordano finishes hit through the head of Aho. Aho helped off of the ice. pic.twitter.com/ePOH6C2VsD— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) January 14, 2018
As you can see Aho’s head was down but Giordano makes absolutely no attempt to avoid contact to the head or knee. A very dangerous and stupid play on his part could possibly lead to the Canes being without their top goal scorer for who knows how long.
The worst part of all of this was the fact that multiple Flames fans took to Twitter to defend the play. Newsflash! There’s a reason he got kicked out of the game people! Giodarno’s ruthless play will automatically get reviewed by the NHL and he could face a suspension for his actions.
That was a complete clean hit that was not called a penalty until assessing the damage. Garbage call. If there's no crime you don't call for harm. Giordano wasn't targeting the head whatsoever, Aho moved his head into it.— Matchsticks&Gasoline (@MatchsticksCGY) January 14, 2018
Stay classy Calgary.
Back to the game
Thanks to the instigator rule, what should have been a five minute power play giving the Canes a chance to get back in it turns in to two minutes of 4 on 4 then a three minute PP. That’s what it is and you take it an go try to get back in it if you’re the Canes.
However, that’s when the Canes saw any chance of getting back into it ripped away thanks to the officials. Jordan Staal was called for a high-sticking penalty that when he literally never made contact with the Flames player, giving the Flames a 4 on 3. How do you make such a bad call in that situation? Very frustrating from the Canes point of view when such an obvious call was blown on Friday with the same player involved and the same penalty.
Staal gets called for a high stick that never hit Hamonic. It was his arm that bumped the Calgary defenseman.— Cory Lavalette (@corylav) January 14, 2018
So after all of that the Flames would go on to score a 4 on 4 goal shortly after Brock McGinn missed another great opportunity leading to a 3 on 1 in to the Canes zone.
What should have truly been a five minute PP for the Canes gets ripped away and creates a 3-0 lead for the Flames.
Lee Stempniak would go on to break Smith’s shutout with his first of the year and the Flames would add a power play goal making the final 4-1, but the game truly was over from the start. The Canes did not show up with any effort and got behind early, creating a hole they could not dig out of yet again.
Make a Move
Do you guys remember a few weeks ago when the Canes had a chance to get to true .500, not just NHL .500? Or maybe even when the Canes beat the Penguins for the second time in a week and had a firm hold on the final wild card spot? Is it just me, or does that seem like a really long time ago, not just 11 days?
Losing four out of five and six out of seven will certainly do that to you. Amazingly, the Hurricanes are back to last place in the Metro and will most certainly be at least four to six points back by the time they take the ice Saturday. The team is one point behind where they were at this point last year, and that quick glimpse of a playoff spot is fading fast.
The bye week may be at the perfect time for a team struggling to find their groove again. But what the team really needs is a full out shock. It is beyond time for Ron Francis to go get the offense some help and he needs to seriously look at his goaltending situation. Scott Darling has 9 wins in 28 game played... NINE! He’s not getting the job done and there is no reason to believe he will turn it around this season. Cam Ward on the other hand has come back down to earth after his lights out December. He did a good enough job to win Friday but his team let him down. Still not sure he is a true starting goalie though.
So the conundrum we are left with is what to do? The offense clearly needs help and the defense could use a grizzled veteran and we are loaded with prospects plus certain players on the roster that likely need to go. Mr. Dundon told us all he values winning over money and he wants to win now. So make it happen. Do not let this season slip away when we actually have a chance!
Moral of the Story
Bad loss. Bad effort. Bad hit by Giordano. Bad everything.
Take the week off and find your game from December. The team has another big matchup against Pittsburgh upcoming plus their very home heavy month of February. There is plenty of time to right the ship and get back above the cut line — but games like this one will not cut it moving forward.