For 91 seconds last night the Carolina Hurricanes had the best opportunity to score that the NHL allows against the Los Angeles Kings, and they squandered it while only getting one real chance. It’s a feeling all too familiar for the Hurricanes who have now only scored four goals total over their past four games. There can no longer be an excuse of running into a hot goalie; it’s painfully obvious the issue isn’t the opposing goaltender, it’s the Hurricanes themselves.
Thanks to a lack of raw talent, ineffective coaching, and a key defensive breakdown, the worst team in the Western Conference walked away with two points last night while the Hurricanes got zero.
The elite teams in the NHL convert when their opponents give them golden opportunities. Other teams tend to give away numerous points by not converting chances when their opponent gives them ample opportunities.
Newsflash: the Carolina Hurricanes are the latter.
For the second consecutive game the Hurricanes’ power play directly cost the team two points. First, an 0-6 performance against Anaheim, followed up by going 0-3 with 91 seconds of a five on three versus LA. Both games were effectively lost by one goal, a goal the Hurricanes should have scored while on the power play yet lacked the ability to do so.
The Hurricanes have scored 4 goals on 117 shots (3% shooting percentage) and are 1/13 (8%) on the power play over their last 4 games (241:15 of game time).— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 3, 2018
The issue here starts with coaching and ends with a lack of offensive firepower. Rod Brind’Amour has been behind the bench for the multitude of years of mediocrity on the power play. Never an offensive guru, Brind’Amour has never been able to find an answer to the teams scoring woes on special teams. He’s most recently been insistent on playing Justin Williams and Lucas Wallmark for significant periods of time on the power play, which had led to exactly the results you’d imagine.
But not all of this is Rod’s fault. He’s only got enough offensive weapons to make one good power play unit and the second unit is just players thrown together that mostly have no business being on an NHL power play unit. The Hurricanes are suffering on the power play because teams can shut down their one good unit and they know the second unit has nothing.
Even with their talent deficiency one would think, given 91 seconds of a five on three late in a scoreless game, somehow the Hurricanes could muster up something. Yet they could not. Brock McGinn will get a lot of flak for costing the Canes this game (more on this below), but this series with the five on three is what truly cost Carolina.
At this point there’s no confidence in the special teams unit. It has now directly cost them the last two games plus many others this year. Something has to give with the power play or the Canes will be missing out on the playoffs for a 10th straight year.
Bad Time for a Mistake
The only true goal of the game was scored thanks to a key defensive mishap by Brock McGinn. LA’s Alec Martinez finally beat Petr Mrazek on a sneaky backdoor play where McGinn got beat badly.
It starts with a lost face off by Lucas Wallmark, and Jake Muzzin finds a streaking Martinez for a easy chip in. The irony in McGinn getting beat is he was inserted here in place of Andrei Svechnikov who is apparently not trusted in late game situations, only to be the direct reason the Kings score. Svechnikov had given no reason to believe he could not handle himself in that situation, yet he was removed and it cost the Hurricanes.
So many questionable decisions go in to why the Kings were even in a position to score there. Why was Jordan Staal or Victor Rask not on the ice for such a vital face off? Why replace Svechnikov? Why does Brock bite so hard on trying to get to Martinez instead of collapsing to the net? The first two are on the head coach, and the latter goes back to a player who would have a hard time cracking the lineup of a Stanley Cup contending team.
Enough is Enough
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Albert Einstein didn’t say it, but it doesn’t matter because the Hurricanes are bound and determined to prove it true anyway. The team keeps shooting itself in the foot year after year by refusing to admit they have a scoring issue. Last night was another perfect example of what has become normal around Raleigh.
The Hurricanes relied upon their goalie for the fourth straight game to keep them in it and Petr Mrazek did just that. Keeping the game 0-0 until very late in the third period, Mrazek by far did his part, but the other 18 players on the ice failed him.
From easy shot after easy shot the Canes kept throwing pucks at Jonathan Quick but numerous shots where from the blue line with absolutely nobody in front of the net. You’ll never score like that in the NHL, yet they keep trying it. Why? Smart money says it’s because they do not have enough raw talent to score so they just throw pucks on goal in hopes of a miracle.
Carolina suffers when it comes to offensive talent and when the few players who can score do not show up we get results like last night. It’s an epidemic that’s been ongoing for years and management has refused to address it. There are guys in Charlotte who thrive at scoring yet they haven’t been given a true opportunity in Raleigh. Meanwhile the likes of Phil Di Giuseppe, Clark Bishop, and Brock McGinn continue to get ice time when they have minimal scoring ability.
The one player aside from Sebastian Aho who could be an elite scoring is being buried on the third line with non offensive players. Much like Jeff Skinner was pinned down the last few season, Andrei Svechnikov needs to be placed on a line with other offensive players. He’s earned top six minutes and it’s past time to make that happen. The last thing the Canes need is to lose out on raw offensive talent because they refuse to play him with better player. Skinner has been freed in Buffalo and Svechnikov needs to be freed in Carolina.
Moral of the Story
It’s hard to come up with a ton of words for a game that went scoreless for over 57 minutes, but the one things that’s obvious is this team lacks scoring ability. They seem to finally have really good goaltending which is a nice change, but those goalies can’t do it all. When Sebastian Aho is not going this team has nobody else that can score. Rod Brind’Amour seems hell bent on keeping Andrei Svechnikov on a line with grinders which effectively takes him out of the game, and that means the Hurricanes only have one scoring line.
Something needs to change fast or else we will continue to see the Canes struggle to score one or two goals. Last night was a ugly reminder of what this team really is and it’s only going to get worse if they remain insistent of sticking with what they have. Game after game, year after year, day in and day out, with the same results and no plans to change anything... That seems like insanity.