In a professional sports league of any kind it is very difficult to make something trendy. Players change teams, coaches come and go, parity takes its natural course (outside of maybe the NBA). For a team to lose in one building 16 straight times just seems unfathomable.
Yet here we are.
The Carolina Hurricanes dropped their 16th straight game to the New York Rangers played at Madison Square Garden last night by the score of 6-2, and it was just as ugly as the score suggests.
If it walks like a bad effort, looks like a bad effort, talks like a bad effort... something like that. We’ll save everyone some time with this section and just go ahead and say there was only one good thing from last night and that was the play of Saku Maenalanen. Both of Carolina’s goals came from Maenalanen and he’s showing why he was so good in Finland.
His first goal came off a turnover in the Rangers end and it momentarily gave the Hurricanes life.
Another game, another goal for #8 pic.twitter.com/KUzvcjejIa— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) January 16, 2019
While everyone else in white really failed to show up for the game, #8 left his mark. It’s hard to see Saku going back to Charlotte any time soon.
Last night was by far the worst game Curtis McElhinney has played in a Hurricanes sweater. The veteran goaltender has been a dominating force in net for the Canes ever since he was picked up off waivers in October. Last night was hopefully just a fluke and not something more, but either way McElhinney did not play good hockey against the Rangers.
Let’s look at some examples of his body of work.
Mika Zibanejad finds himself all alone in front of the net and makes no mistake . pic.twitter.com/SK3hKaujna— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 16, 2019
Tic, tac, BUCH!#NYR up 4-1 pic.twitter.com/IRI3VkB1g6— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) January 16, 2019
Not every goal was on McElhinney but a lot of the goals were shots you would hope the veteran would stop. There were opportunities we have all become accustomed to watching him shut down and he just did not have it last night.
Outside of McElhinney’s tough outing, the overall lack of effort from the entire team was difficult to watch. Star players like Sebastian Aho were nowhere to been seen. The physicality that guys like Micheal Ferland have been bringing was not present. The sturdy penalty killing that has gotten significantly better as the season has progressed was really bad. All in all it was a very bad game for the Hurricanes as it relates to the on ice product.
After the team lost in Tampa they knew they had to respond against Buffalo and they did just that. These occasional off nights will not hurt the team unless they let it. Coming back out on Friday and defeating the lowly Senators is an absolute must. This team, where they are right now in the standings, simply cannot afford a losing streak to teams below them.
The glitz and glamour that is New York City can be breathtaking at times. The city never sleeps and maybe that’s the issue for the Carolina Hurricanes. Maybe it is a psychological issue at this point. Whatever the case may be, the Rangers outright own the Canes at MSG. The last time the Hurricanes won at MSG the year was 2010 and Andrei Svechnikov hadn’t even hit middle school then.
I say strange because so many iterations of those two teams have faced each other since the #Canes last won on Oct. 29, 2010.— Michael Smith (@MSmithCanes) January 15, 2019
In fact, no one who dressed in that 4-3 victory more than eight years ago is even still on the team today. pic.twitter.com/UexCMtqdpY
It’s beyond ridiculous how many times the Hurricanes have lost at MSG yet it doesn’t seem to be one single answer as to why it keeps happening. There have been plenty of different players and coaches for both sides. The Hurricanes just beat the Rangers 8-5 in October so they know they can beat them. So what is it about Madison Square Garden that has cursed the Carolina Hurricanes? I surely do not know the answer but anyone can figure it out I’d imagine there would be a payday awaiting you at 1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
There was nothing pretty about last night. The Hurricanes were playing their 8th game in 13 days and it showed. The entire team, minus Saku Maenalanen, was just plain bad.
With everyone around them in the standings showing no sign of slowing down, the Hurricanes have no choice but to shrug this one off and get back at it on Friday. Losing streaks will kill you this time of the year, so they absolutely cannot let this become one. The best course of action is to burn the tape from last night, take a day to rest today, practice hard tomorrow, and come out firing on all cylinders against Ottawa on Friday.