What do we want? Wins!
When do we want them? Now!
How are we going to get them? Change!
While many Americans went out yesterday to cast a ballot in hopes of changing something regardless of their affiliation, the Carolina Hurricanes showed us all that some of the biggest changes that need to be made in the state capital are right off of Edwards Mill Road.
With another completely deflating loss, this time to the St. Louis Blues, the Hurricanes are spiraling out of control on their way to their accustomed home at the bottom of the NHL. It’s mind-boggling to understand how we have gotten to this point when just three weeks ago this team looked like the surprise of the year. Yet, it appears those hopes and dreams have not only faded, but crashed and burned with the team now losing eight of their last ten contests.
Last night was just another display of the same issues we have seen all along during this collapse. A refusal to show up for the first period of games, special teams producing abysmal results, out-shooting the opponent by throwing extremely soft shots at the net, and a total lack of effort from a team built on the principal of outworking their opponent.
First Period Woes
In six of their last eight games, the Hurricanes have been outscored in the first period. This disturbing trend only gets worse when you realize not only have they been outscored, its by a margin of 11-3. There is no way a team can be successful at that rate.
Last night was no exception as they gave up three goals in the first period of a game they knew they needed to win. The game started off tense to say the least. Neither team wanted to be the first to make a mistake and it was reflected in the cautious play. That changed when Micheal Ferland failed to get a puck out of his own zone creating a quick odd man rush for the Blues. Jaccob Slavin, who had one of the worst games of his career, failed to stop the pass and Ryan O’Reilly got his first goal of the night.
It would only get worse from there as a failed three on one for the Hurricanes turned in to a two on one for the Blues. Once again Slavin horrendously fails at breaking up the pass and it’s as easy as it gets for the Blues from there.
But then the Hurricanes got some life. Ironically, it was Slavin himself that got the Hurricanes on the board with a simple wrist shot on the power play. But the attempt at a comeback lasted all of twenty one seconds. Nic Roy took a slashing penalty seconds after Slavin’s goal giving the Blues a power play. It took only a few seconds for O’Reilly to cash in again while sucking the entire life out of the Hurricanes.
So here we are once again, down two goals after the first period. Playing catch up with a team that can’t score. That combination is simply a recipe for disaster.
It’s simply gotta change.
Horrendous special teams
In no way is this an attempt to kick a dead horse. But it seems as if somehow rookie head coach Rod Brind’Amour can’t figure out how to run special teams. Truthfully, why is it a surprise that the power play got worse? Brind’Amour was in charge of it dating back to the Kirk Muller era and it’s been bad the whole time. Now it’s just gotten worse with Rod in charge.
Yes, the Canes scored a power play goal last night but it was more luck than skill.
Jaccob Slavin with a long-range floater. He gets Carolina on the board. pic.twitter.com/TvSZttabcU— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) November 7, 2018
Both units are stagnant and can hardly make entry in to the offensive zone. Until Slavin scored that power play goal with ten seconds left remaining on Joel Edmundson’s penalty, the Hurricanes power play had looked atrocious. They do not possess the ability to get good shots on goal and their passing is just lazy.
Valentin Zykov was supposed to be the big body presence in front of the net that Jordan Staal has never been, yet he’s been as quiet as a mouse. The team has resorted to using guys like Lucas Wallmark and Brock McGinn - guys who should be killing penalties, not scoring - on the power play and to no one’s surprise that doesn’t work either.
So while the box score will show the team went one for five on the power play last night, don’t let that fool you. For nine minutes and forty-five seconds out of the ten minutes of power play time the Canes had, it was just as horrendous as it has always been under Rod Brind’Amour’s direction.
The team is 7 for 56 on the power play. This has got to change.
On the flip side, the penalty kill is no better. Yes, they held the third best power play unit in the league to just one goal last night. That is certainly an improvement from where they were a few weeks ago, but the one goal they gave up was the back breaking goal late in the first period. The team as a whole has given up at least one power play goal in 12 of their 15 games this season. Let that sink in for a second. Twelve out of 15 games they have allowed the opposing team to score a power play goal!
Once again, it simply doesn’t cut it. Change it!
Where’s the effort?
Remember when the Canes were sitting at 4-0-1 and were atop the NHL standings? That record came because the Hurricanes were not just outworking their opponents, but putting them to shame by severely outworking them. Sebastian Aho, Jaccob Slavin, Warren Foegele, and so many more were up and down the ice like bolts of lightning. Constantly applying pressure, forcing turnovers, generating odd man rushes, and downright dominate games.
What happened to that?
The effort has not been present at all over the past two games nor was it there in the first period of the Coyotes game. It’s no secret the Canes are not the most talented team but they never needed to be. They just needed to outwork the other team every shift. The rest would work itself out. If they lost but they outworked their opponent we can handle that, but the past two games have been eerily similar to the last few months of the Bill Peters era. The team hasn’t shown up to play, they are no longer outworking their opposition, and they are getting their rear ends kicked because of it.
St. Louis walked up and down the ice and played the game they wanted to play last night. They created their own chances and made the Hurricanes defense look stagnant. There was minimal hustle and the score reflects it. The worst part of it all is it’s the guys who need to be leaders who are the guiltiest of them all. Slavin, Aho, Staal, Faulk, they all looked disinterested. If they all gave the heart and work ethic of Warren Foegele the Hurricanes likely wouldn’t be losers of eight of their last ten.
Rod Brind’Amour and Justin Williams preach outworking the other team night in and night out, yet here we are.
As fans, seeking change in a sports team is beyond frustrating. You cannot go vote on what changes should be made or who should be in charge. You do not have the ability to truly voice your opinion to those in charge. You have to have blind faith that changes will be made when things go bad.
Tom Dundon has never seemed to one of patience so it’s hard to see things staying this way for long. Maybe the answer is calling up guys like Martin Necas, Janne Kuokkanen, or Morgan Geekie in place of Wallmark, Roy, or McGinn. Maybe it’s switching defensive pairings and putting Andrei Svechnikov with real linemates. Maybe it’s pulling the trigger on a William Nylander deal.
The answers are unclear at this time. But the one thing that is extremely clear is change must happen now. The effort, results, and outright play of the Hurricanes over the past ten games is unacceptable and you need not look any further than last night to understand that.
We have been down this road for nine years where we watch this team dissolve and fade away in to the pit of mediocrity where no playoffs exist. If something doesn’t change soon that is exactly what will happen once again. Maybe Dundon and company will take action and be the leaders we need in this time of despair, one can only wait and see. The season isn’t a lost cause yet, but they must right this ship now before it completely sinks.