Let me preface this article by saying I did not want to write this story. I never wanted to be the, let’s say, “Negative Nancy” of Canes Country. But sometimes you just have to say what everyone else is thinking but may not have the platform to get out there. So with that said, let’s unfortunately have another sour discussion about the game from yesterday.
The Carolina Hurricanes choked another game away last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins and as every day goes by this team is getting more and more fugly. (In case you don’t know what fugly is, Google it on your own time).
For whatever reason the team insists on taking certain parts of a game off, especially in crucial match ups. The end result is beyond frustrating to fans, but has to be making smoke rise out of Bill Peters’ head constantly.
What can be done about this terrible pattern? Many theories may exist on that one but the clock is running out, if it hasn't already, for Tom Dundon, Ron Francis, and Bill Peters to figure that out if there is to be any talk of the P word for the remainder of this season.
Last night on Twitter I promised rants and rants shall follow.
First up, Jeff Skinner. Skinner oh Skinner oh Skinner, WHAT THE &%^# were you doing on that second goal? You got beat back because you were staring at the puck carrier and you left your guy all alone in front of Cam Ward. Now, had you back-checked with some effort, maybe you would have at least been in position to try and make it a difficult scoring chance. But, instead, you chose to take the Eric Staal route and completely give up on the play before it even reached your own blue line.
You haven’t produced anywhere near the expected level this year, and the last thing we can afford is you gift wrapping goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins! Heading into this year a good number of people wanted you to be our captain — but so far it appears to be a good thing that you are #NotMyCaptain.
Second on my list is Bill Peters. Why do you keep sending out the same mediocre group of losers that have shown no sign of heart since the 3:30 mark of the third period against the Capitals? You preach accountability and how guys must show up every night, yet they consistently don’t! But instead of admitting that, you hide behind non-answers, tip toeing around the fact that you lost the locker room last season. You know it, the fans know it, the whole Triangle area knows it and it shows night in and night out.
If you truly want to send a message, how about you sit some of your “star” players? Give some guys in Charlotte top line minutes while the likes of Skinner and Justin Faulk watch from above. It’s on you to push the guys to get 60 full minutes of effort.
Third, Ron Francis. Why have you sat around and let Bill Peters get away with losing the team? Why have you not stepped in and said enough is enough? At least go get him some more players who give a damn. You tried with Justin Williams and you did succeed, but you have been eerily quiet this season as the team floats with turmoil once again. Everyone believes you are a smart man, so why is it that you have not given the team a jolt of offense when they clearly need it? You may have had very tight strings attached to you for the past few years, but those days are over. You have been given the green light to go spend money and do what it takes to win, so do it already!
Lastly, Scott Darling. I know you didn’t play last night, but if you were playing even half as good as the goalie the team is paying you to be, maybe we wouldn’t have had to endure yet another glove side high goal against Cam Ward. What more can we ask of Ward these days? The guy has been around for over a decade and faced more shots during that time than a 12-point buck in eastern NC during deer season. Nobody exactly knows what your “long conversation” was about with Mike Bales and Peters the other day but hopefully it got something through your head because you cannot keep throwing Cam out there expecting him to steal games.
Now that that is over with let’s talk about last night specifically.
In all honesty, in the first period and all the way up through the Penguins first goal, the Hurricanes played well. From the time the puck dropped, the Canes played physical and came out showing potential. The only goal scored for the Canes came off a fantastic shift that cycled around multiple times and eventually found the back of the net courtesy of Derek Ryan.
From there, though, the team just seemed to give up. The physical play left and the heart was sucked out of them after the second Pens goal. The Canes are so fragile that if they make a few mistakes that give up goals they simply give up the rest of the game. On the third goal Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel just outworked the Canes. It’s as if the Hurricanes did not care if they came back to win or not.
There are certain players on the team you can tell always give it their all. Brock McGinn comes to mind (and if players were paid by hit posts, McGinn would be a multimillionaire). Chad LaRose was another one and so was Nathan Gerbe. Had any of these guys had the hands and skills of, say, Jeff Skinner or Eric Staal, they would have been superstars. They embody everything you desire in a true leader and unfortunately the Hurricanes’ current leadership (at least, those wearing letters) does not have that mentality. They tend to take shifts off and only try occasionally. No matter how many times they get called out by Peters in a post game press conference (albeit not by name) they just don’t respond. Last night was just another example of that.
Moral of the Story
The Canes are sliding down a mountain way too fast as the snowball effect comes to full force. Everything that was great about December has been washed away. Those few days of sitting in the final wild card spot, now a fading memory. Loss after loss, failure after failure, its the same thing on repeat year after year. From giving up first career NHL goals to losing to AHL goaltenders, some things never change.
This is not me writing the season off, although it feels like it. There really is still time for the team to go on a run, acquire a player(s) that will come in and actually try to win, and creep back to a playoff spot. With so many games at home in February and so many still left within the Metro, anything is indeed possible. But as we sit today, one has to wonder: when will things truly ever change?