Do they not know how close they are?
The Carolina Hurricanes continue to sit just outside the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference — now by three points — but have shown minimal desire to close that gap or maintain playoff status when they do have it.
Last night’s loss was no different. The Canes were hapless on defense, slow on the attack and looked downright bored to be there. It was the kind of performance we’ve regrettably grown used to, and that’s unacceptable.
Noah Hanifin’s goal was cool...
.@NHanifin went bar down to get the #Canes on the board in the second.#CARvsDET Gamecenter: https://t.co/Ch7iZAkZdv pic.twitter.com/FmOFP3ZtOF— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) February 25, 2018
...but the turnover behind the net was abysmal.
Pass, shoot, score. | #LGRW pic.twitter.com/ElSdLmbNOa— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 25, 2018
That’s Trevor Daley picking corners, by the way. Not exactly your name-brand sniper, but credit where it’s due.
It’s the nonchalance in key situations, the general laziness that has really stuck out during this stretch of misery. Hanifin gives the puck away far too easily there, and then follows Andreas Athanasiou around the ice as he does as he pleases. And nobody else seems to be terribly keen on stopping Daley from waltzing closer to Scott Darling to rip a shot past his ear.
But that was just one time, right? Surely the defensive ineptitude of the entire Canes bench couldn’t have killed them twice.
OK DK! | Presented by @DTE_Energy | #LGRW pic.twitter.com/z9E2EL3aRK— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 25, 2018
Nope, surely not.
This play raises many questions, none more glaring than that of why all five players are on one side of the ice when the goal is scored. It’s inexcusable; this is fundamental stuff. Wingers — cover the points. Center — help out down low. Defensemen — clear the crease and win battles in the corners. Goaltender — cut down the angle and seal off any holes. I cannot make this up: not a single player in a Canes sweater does his job here.
Danny DeKeyser has all day with the puck, thanks to forwards missing their responsibilities. Justin Faulk is beaten easily to the puck in the corner, and then, like Hanifin before, shows no desire to win the battle. Darling got minimal help on the night, but that’s a save he should make.
To complete the unholy trinity, Faulk also gave us this beauty (h/t Brett for the GIF).
amazing pic.twitter.com/XmREqxd74e— Brett Finger (@brettfinger) February 25, 2018
Again, it’s a fundamental error from one of Carolina’s supposed best players. You can’t take the puck in front of your own net with pressure on you, and you especially can’t lose the puck in front of your own net with pressure on you. But this is the new normal.
This is what the Hurricanes have been doing for about a month now. And it’s particularly frustrating because they’re still so close to their goal of earning a playoff spot. The good news there is that they still have time to reach that goal, but things need to change. Players, coaches, roster decisions — tomorrow’s trade deadline should be an important day for the 2017-18 Carolina Hurricanes. They cannot afford to stand pat, for the sake of the fans’ sanity and the jobs of those at the helm.