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About Last Night: Where The Goals At?

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It’s not just a win drought, it’s a goal drought.

Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Wednesday night’s game just flat out sucked to watch.

Carolina’s rock-bottom momentum went into the earth’s crust with a 5-1 loss to the Sharks last night in San Jose. The five goals are certainly concerning, especially when you consider that the Hurricanes’ heretofore en fuego No. 1 goalie Curtis McElhinney allowed them. Some were near impossible to save. Some were in the grey zone.

But anyone who watched that knows that’s not the problem we need to address. It’s the shooting.

(I’ll stop writing about it when they start falling.)

The Hurricanes shot 1-for-40 against a struggling Martin Jones. In a first period with 16 shots and double-digit “scoring chances,” nothing went in. That must have helped the frustration set in even more as they had to chase from 2-0 knowing that goals haven’t come recently.

The Canes have now dropped to a 6.3 shooting percentage on the season, and they’re down to 29th in the league in goals per game (2.44). Over the past five games, they’ve converted five goals on 157 shots (3.2 percent).

It’s also been 208 minutes and one second of regulation play since the team has scored a 5-on-5 goal, and that one went off a defender inadvertently.

So the last words I want to hear right now, ranked from least to most palatable:

“They’re gonna fall”

“Eventually”

“We’re getting our chances”

“Stick with the game plan”

In the most recent games we’ve scored three or more goals (against the Maple Leafs and Panthers to on 11/21 and 11/23, respectively), it seems to me that two types of shots have gotten the job done.

1) The screen play. Teuvo Teravainen used one of the most fortified screens (three or so players) to net a goal against the Panthers in a 4-1 victory, patiently skating from right to left on the power play before firing a writer. Jordan Martinook waited a beat for Keith Yandle to screen his shot from closer range, and executed a stellar shot to the left while moving right to score his second against the Panthers on the night.

2) The rebound/scrum. Clark Bishop nearly got his first goal this way last night, but whiffed on a good scoring chance that allowed the defense time to get set and clear the puck. The opening goal against a lethal Maple Leafs team was a mad dash, including Lucas Wallmark quite literally digging the pick from under Frederik Andersen so that the refs couldn’t blow the play dead. Look at all those bodies!

For a team that struggles to get on the board, it makes sense that a little chaos would probably be its best ally.

One thing that isn’t working? The breakaway. And you hear about it every time we get stoned on an odd-man rush: “Brind’Amour makes them practice breakaways every single practice.” I don’t mean the Canes should stop trying to get those opportunities and should slow up on zone entry, but if we practice breakaways every practice yet are trained to have a near-zero hope of seeing a goal go in on them, then something needs to be fixed.

It’s hard to talk about much else to improve when this is going on, but here are a few other thoughts I had amidst the rage:

  • You’d expect the way the lack of scoring has played out, something would have to be shaken up. I get that our top goal scorer is currently hurt, but the comments about not wanting to change things for the sake of changing them makes zero (0) sense at this point.

We’re 27 games into the season. We’ve shown that we’re willing to give callups a chance. We shook up the lines due to low scoring in Arizona, then we scored three goals to send the game to OT.

So that just won’t make sense to me for now. We need to do something.

  • There was a lot of puck watching going on defensively near the crease. Case in point: the final goal of the night. As much as I’ll fight to the death for him, it appeared to me that on the quick passing around the crease, Jaccob Slavin kept his eyes on the puck and quickly tried to correct to stop the pass at the last moment rather than playing the man or the stick to prevent a shot.

(Not the best angle to watch it unfold, but the only one I can find.)

Thankfully, most of the time, the puck watching ended up non-lethal. But it’s something that can’t continued, especially while we can’t find answers on the other side of the ice.

  • Just to reiterate: the Hurricanes have now lost three games in a row. This marks the third time this season in which Carolina have lost at least three games consecutively. Those streaks account for 11 of the team’s 15 losses.

I can say this: the pain will end at some point. We’re not the only team in the league that has its droughts. We’ll face a goalie who has an off night, at the least. But I just don’t know if that brings me any reassurance at this point now that we’re sinking in the standings despite being seen as a playoff contender by the analytics writers.

If something doesn’t turn around, we’re going to be a case study in the coming years. Why so many shots but so few goals?