Another game, another wasted opportunity for the Carolina Hurricanes. While Petr Mrazek held the Canes in the game, the Washington Capitals got just enough offense to get the job done by a score of 3-1. The power play and overall offensive woes continue to plague the Hurricanes who are creeping closer and closer to the bottom of the league standings instead of the top.
While last night was another game where it was hard to find many good things to take away, Petr Mrazek was the one shining star. He continues to be solid game in and game out and without him the Capitals would have racked up numerous goals. Along with Curtis McElhinney, Mrazek has helped lead the Hurricanes to above league average goaltending for the first time in a very long time. Last night was no exception as he held one of the most potent offenses to just two goals by standing on his head.
"The score is deceiving. Petr Mrazek has been outstanding in this one." pic.twitter.com/ShE2APW9dA— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) December 28, 2018
For so long the issue for the Canes was goaltending and now that they have quality guys in net the team in front can’t do anything with it. Is Petr Mrazek the long term solution for the Hurricanes? Most likely not. But at the rate he is playing it’s hard to see a situation where the Canes do not offer him an opportunity to return next season as the main guy. His numbers do not reflect just how good he is playing but you can see him giving it his all every night. With a little more goal support Mrazek would be looking like an All-Star.
This seems pretty obvious but the Hurricanes can’t score with any consistency. When they turn on the jets they can be deadly just as we saw against Boston, but when they are off, the Canes offense looks realllllyyyyy bad. It has become a complete feast or famine situation and they are not feasting nearly enough.
It took until the 12:25 mark of the third period for the Hurricanes to break Braden Holtby’s shutout on a Sebastian Aho goal.
Sebastian Aho scores Carolina's first goal of the night. He cleans up the rebound from Micheal Ferland's breakaway attempt. 2-1 game. pic.twitter.com/R2BcZFV4xu— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 28, 2018
It’s not a work ethic issue or a strategy issue, it’s a talent issue. It’s becoming painfully obvious by the day that guys like Victor Rask and Brock McGinn do not belong on a NHL roster. This is a results league and they aren’t getting results. Plain and simple.
After so many games like last night you would think the Canes would be able to get it figured out but Rod Brind’Amour seems more lost than anyone.
Brind'Amour: "I think we just weren’t ready to go like we needed to be. That’s on me. I saw it and talked about it, but I should have done something different. I don’t know what, but we were not ready to go like we needed to be against that team at this time of the year."— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) December 28, 2018
When he was first introduced as head coach Brind’Amour was good for calling it like it was but now he seems stuck on repeat just like his predecessor was. It’s not a work ethic problem, Rod; it’s a lot more complex than that.
But what is the answer to the offensive woes? The Canes called up Janne Kuokkanen saying they wouldn’t drag him down playing on the fourth line, yet he was benched for almost the entire third period. Will Martin Necas get a shot after he returns for the World Juniors? Will the Canes trade for some true top six talent? Maybe we start the lose for Hughes campaign? The answer isn’t simple but whatever the Canes have now just is not working.
Just as equally bad for the Hurricanes last night was their ability to turn the puck over at bad times. Washington’s first goal was directly caused by a turnover. Kuokkanen decided to pass the puck instead of holding on to it and then Calvin de Haan couldn’t clear, handing Chandler Stephenson a golden opportunity.
For a team that struggles to score you can’t give the opposition such easy chances. That is simply not a recipe for success.
You know where this is going.
Tripp Tracy said on the television broadcast they he believes the Hurricanes’ power play, or lack thereof, has directly cost the team between five and ten points this season. One can easily argue the high side of that as the powerless power play has been beyond horrendous almost every game this season. Last night was just another example of it.
The Hurricanes can’t gain entry on the power play so they can never get anything set up. When they do gain entry their setup is very slow and unproductive which leads to either a turnover or a easy shot on goal which has minuscule chances of going in.
Justin Faulk continues to lead the way on the power play as he got more ice time (4:33) on the 0-4 power play last night than anyone else. Faulk has twelve points on the entire season yet he continues to quarterback the power play.
Oddly enough Jaccob Slavin is hardly getting any consistent power play time even though most would consider him the best offensive defenseman on the Hurricanes. Slavin got just 1:46 on the man advantage last night.
On the forward side, can anyone explain why Rask is getting so much power play time? He got 2:50 last night with his whopping two points on the year. That’s more than Micheal Ferland, Warren Foegele, Kuokkanen or Slavin got.
After Aho pulled the Canes to within one in the third period the Hurricanes had a fairly strong push which saw Andrei Svechnikov nearly score. Then they got a power play with under four minutes remaining in the game with a chance to tie. Instead of this continuing the momentum it completely killed it. At the biggest moment of a game your power play needs to step up. Instead, the Hurricanes’ man advantage is deflating them.
The power play is horrendous and it has been for years. Brind’Amour cannot fix it and without some more elite talent it will continue to fail which will continue to hold the Hurricanes back. It’s the ugliest part of this team and has certainly cost them at least ten points on the season.
Moral of the Story
It’s another tough pill to swallow as the Canes had numerous opportunities to win the game last night. Watching the power play continue to squander games is beyond frustrating but there is no simple way to fix it. The head coach has led a failing power play for multiple years, the roster lacks offensive talent, and guys with two points on the year are getting lots of man advantage ice time. As 2018 come to an end it’s hard to see this team, as currently constructed, doing anything this season. That great start to the season is a faded memory and the darkest days may still be ahead with a ton of games within the Metro remaining.