There was a sense of optimism in the air early yesterday morning as the Carolina Hurricanes got ready to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. Head coach Bill Peters seemed confident that his team was ready to go after a four-day break from play. The result last night seemed contrary to any belief that they were ready.
Last night consisted of many things: goals that shouldn’t have happened, defensive breakdowns, systemic issues and, of course, lack of goal scoring. After Phil Kessel’s first goal of the night, only a few minutes after Teuvo Teravainen had given the home team life, the Canes mailed it in.
On Jake Guentzel’s goal to open the scoring, Trevor van Riemsdyk dropped down and flopped instead of staying on his feet to take away time and space from Phil Kessel. It became the first chapter of a nightmare chronicle of the play of Noah Hanifin and van Riemsdyk last night.
On magical goal number two, a glove side high shot with traffic in front had better chances of winning the lottery than being caught by Cam Ward. Ward’s visible frustration after giving up the night’s sixth and final goal of the night after Jeff Skinner turned the puck over to two Penguins forwards was about as much emotion as the team showed on Friday night. “Cam Ward has had enough” was a statement uttered on the Penguins telecast and after being peppered with 39 shots, I believe he did.
A 6-1 loss is about as deflating as it gets for a team that has now reached Game 61. With a 3-5-2 record over the last ten games, this group looks anything but ready for the playoffs. A six goal dismal display of defense and goaltending further deepens the -23 goal differential they currently hold.
Last night, I sent a text to one of our writers, Brett Finger. He proceeded to post it on Twitter:
I think this pretty much sums it up: pic.twitter.com/RoLQid2WoR— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 24, 2018
My sentiments remain the same as I woke up this morning. Being one point out of a playoff spot has never felt further away. I consider myself level-headed and don’t become overly dramatic after losses. But can each member of this team, especially the walking soundbite Bill Peters, look themselves in the mirror and honestly believe they are going to make the playoffs? Because frankly, you can only spew “do good things and the results will come” so many times until you find yourself at the bottom of the standings in April asking what happened. That, my friends, is what is called the illusory truth effect.
Frankly, Ron Francis’ inaction on the trade front isn’t surprising. What has the team shown him over the past ten games that would give him reason to buy in? If by chance he does make a big move by Monday’s deadline, is it too late?
Of course, there still is time. With eight out of 15 games in March against Metropolitan Division opponents, the Canes better hope to find whatever it is they are searching for. Because as of now, Justin Williams’ sentiments of “we’re done losing” haven’t rung true.