The Carolina Hurricanes dropped another contest they should have won last night and how they did it won’t surprise you at all. Credit to the Detroit Red Wings for coming back to win 4-3 in the shootout, but the real story here is not the comeback, it’s the utter failure once again by the Hurricanes.
From bad goaltending, to easy shots, and the inability to finish a game on special teams, the Canes may have reached a new level of embarrassment last night. Understanding why this happened will be easy as it is simply the same mishaps on repeat, however, trying to determine why this is still happening and getting worse by the game is extremely perplexing.
First off: let’s get the nod to Scott Darling for his overtime play out of the way. He played fantastic in the extra frame. He literally saved the game. Unfortunately, during the third period he seemed disinterested in saving the game.
If we go back to the first period the first goal of the game was scored off a face off won by Detroit. They quickly passed the puck and set up Andreas Athanasiou for a one timer that got past Darling.
Does Jaccob Slavin need to be there to tie up his man? Yes he does. But Darling has to stop that puck. He was not screened and the shot came from the top of the circle so he had time to react.
But then he settled down and made a few decent saves while the Hurricanes roared to a 3-1 lead. All is good at this point. One bad goal can be forgiven and we can move on in life.
Then the third period came.
The Hurricanes had a power play opportunity that went unsuccessful (more on that later) with Anthony Mantha in the box. Seconds after his release the Canes gave up an odd man rush heading toward Darling. The goaltender had one responsibility on an odd man rush - the shooter. Yet Mantha was able to shoot an easy one past Darling and you could feel the comeback about to happen.
Just two minutes and 58 seconds later it happened. Mantha once again got one past Darling. Of his three goals allowed this one is the most acceptable given Mantha’s first shot attempt was blocked and he quickly followed up so Darling was in the process of getting back up after going down for the first one. It’s still a time when you need a guy who is supposed to be your number one goalie to make a save.
Overtime was the best of Darling and it showed a glimmer of hope of what he can be. He got completly undressed by Frans Nieslen in the shootout for Detroit’s only goal but that’s a skill competition so we will let that one slide.
Darling’s woes last season are well documented. He worked hard this off season and in training camp looked good. But since his return he has not been the goalie the Hurricanes need him to be. He has a 3.09 GAA and has lost two of his first three games while nearly giving the one win away.
The goaltending situation was an obvious problem over the off season and instead of addressing it management decided to bring back Darling and let him figure it out. There’s plenty of time for him to figure it out this year but he needs to find whatever he’s looking for fast. The Hurricanes cannot and should not give him multiple opportunities to prove himself as they did last year. He either has it or he doesn’t and they can’t waste games watching him give up soft goals with an insistence on trying to make him their starter.
Every Backup Goalie for Vezina
Have you ever noticed the Hurricanes have a way of making backup goalies look elite? Look no further than last night as a prime example. No offense to Jonathan Bernier but he’s a goalie the Hurricanes have to beat if they want to be a playoff team.
Jonathan Bernier— Hurricanes Stats™ (@NHLCanesStats) November 11, 2018
Thomas Greiss x 2
The goalies the Hurricanes have lost to this season.
They pepper these goalie with weak shots and make them look like Vezina candidates. Bernier made 49 shots last night and very few of them were challenging. The offense lacks a finishing ability and hence why the team keeps losing close games.
A great example of this was when Jaccob Slavin had an opportunity to make it a 4-1 game last night effectively salting it away and hit the post. On offense there were a few times the Hurricanes had looks but nobody could get a quality scoring chance or if they did it went off the post.
Another good example is in the shootout where of the six total shooters the Hurricanes have sent out this season only one has scored. That was Brock McGinn, who is not exactly a guy who should be relied upon to score goals. Nobody was able to crack Bernier in the shootout and Detroit walked home a winner.
Just as with the goaltending situation, the offense was a known issue in the off-season. Yet instead of adding to it they subtracted. They let their best natural goal scorer leave for essentially nothing in return and have yet to do a single thing to replace that offense. Oh, and that guy they traded away, just happens to be the second highest goal scorer for the entire NHL right now.
The Power Play
For a team that struggles scoring getting a power play goal as the Canes did last night is huge. On that power play they effectively built off of the momentum that a previous power play had just created.
Sebastian Aho won a face off and after the puck worked around he found Micheal Ferland in the middle for a very nice goal.
Teravainen to Aho to Ferland. That will never get old. Ferland's 8th of the year makes it 2-1 Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/5vwKelN8US— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 11, 2018
The first two power plays were everything you want to see from you special teams. But the next three left so much to be desired. The third power play was dreadfully ineffective and right afterwards Mantha got his first goal. The fourth power play when the game was tied very late in the third period was even more frustrating.
The Hurricanes lacked the ability to enter the zone cleanly and when they did get in they couldn’t set anything up. This was a time when you needed your power play unit to go win the game for you.
The final power play chance was very abbreviated as it came with 15 seconds left in overtime. Still this was a chance to win the game and they did nothing with it. Aho had a good opportunity to shoot the puck but pulled back eventually passing it off. There was no sense of urgency as time expired with them still passing the puck around. We’ve discussed the issues with the power play numerous times and while there have been glimpses of hope in the last two games, the same ugly issues keep arising and it’s costing the Hurricanes game.
Moral of the Story
Bad bad BAD loss. The Hurricanes let a team who had just played the night before and were using their back up goalie comeback from two goals down in the third period walk away with two points. This repetitive nature of losing cannot and should not be allowed to continue after so many years of suffering through it.
As mentioned before, give Detroit their dues for getting it done. But this loss is so much more about the continued losing for the Hurricanes than the comeback by the Red Wings. They have the next five games at home and two of those are Metro games. They must win these game and put together a win streak before they fall too far behind. Cam Ward will make his return to PNC Arena on Monday and if the Hurricanes let him post a 55 save shutout, Caniacs everywhere may lose their sanity.