A tremendous four-game homestand for the Carolina Hurricanes came to a bitter end last night when the New Jersey Devils defeated the Canes 5-3 inside PNC Arena. Despite leading twice in the game, the Hurricanes looked either tired or disinterested in playing in the final 40 minutes. James Reimer was unable to to stop shots he should have, the defense fell asleep multiple times, and it was an overall bad loss to a bad team.
The Good - Canes Scored First?
There was very little to be happy about or pleased with after the game last night. Rod Brind’Amour himself said “If we’re going to try to be the team we want to be, we can’t play like that.” That pretty much sums up how the night went for the Canes.
If there is one positive it’s that Warren Foegele got his first goal of the year and his line with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov has shined over this home stand. The goal was set up by a pass from Aho who found Foegele in the slot, and after a quick move Foegele was able to sneak the puck past the Devils netminder.
Foegele has looked much more comfortable in his role playing with Aho and Svechnikov while getting more ice time. One will recall Foegele also elevated his game with increased ice time during the playoffs. If this line continues to gel that would prove to be large for the Canes as they have been waiting on Aho to show up all year. Getting Aho going, especially if he is paired with Svechnikov who is also going good, will help the overall game for the Hurricanes more than words can describe.
The Bad - What’s the deal James?
When Curtis McElhinney signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the summer and the Hurricanes traded for James Reimer, everyone knew the Canes were likely taking a step backwards in goal. Reimer was outright horrendous during his time with the Panthers and Florida was so desperate to get rid of him they were willing to buy out Scott Darling to do so.
Reimer was then handed the backup goalie job most likely because of his guaranteed salary and not his on ice performance because Anton Forsberg was much better during training camp. Reimer then had a very strong first two games to start his Hurricanes career in defeating both Washington and Florida. At this point many took a step back and were starting to think that maybe Reimer could be good and just needed a change of scenery.
Fast forward to now and Reimer has lost his last three starts and given up a combined 11 goals during that time frame. If the Hurricanes want to make the playoffs again this year they need their backup goaltender to be better than he has been in his last three starts.
Now, with all that said, some of the goals against last night were not really on Reimer but they are still ones you want to have back. For example, the Devils first goal was a lively rebound off the boards that ended up at the right place at the right time for Miles Wood.
That one can be forgiven surely. But then you see the Devils second goal where a puck leaked through Reimer and was just sitting on the goal line awaiting Jack Hughes to tap it in. Reimer has to be able to stop and cover that puck.
Then there was the Devils third goal, where Reimer was playing very deep in his net. To Reimer’s credit, 99% of the time Jaccob Slavin plays this play better but Reimer seemed completely unready once Nico Hischier got past the defense. The end result was one of those goals that you really need your goalie to stop but he is unable to.
There is still time for Reimer to save his season and turn things around to where he was in his first two games, but the Reimer that we have seen recently is only going to hinder the Hurricanes. With both Forsberg and Alex Nedeljkovic waiting in the wings down in Charlotte, Reimer has to be on a short leash. Too many more bad losses and some tough decisions must be made once again in goal this year just as there were last year.
The Ugly - Everything Else
As a team that wants to compete for the division crown, one thing the Hurricanes must do is take points from opponents below them in the standings. They are currently in a stretch 13 straight games against teams that did not make the playoffs last year, and only face two teams in the entire month of November that did make the playoffs. They must continue to stay on the run they had in October and take care of these games against lesser teams.
Last night the Devils came into Raleigh with only two wins on the season, after traveling on a back to back after going to the shootout the night before, and what happened? They outplayed, outworked, and appeared to want it much more than the Hurricanes did for the final 40 minutes.
For a Rod Brind’Amour coached team that is absolutely unacceptable. The entire team, from Reimer, to Slavin, to Dougie Hamilton, and on down the list, just got beat while making poor decisions. Brind’Amour called his team “emotionally dead” after the game. It’s hard to understand how the team could be “emotionally dead” when they were on a three game winning streak and things had been going great, but it was the case.
The good news is it is just one game and as mentioned above, they play a bunch of games against bad teams in the month of November. So long as they can shake off this loss and move on it will be fine. But they absolutely cannot go into these contests thinking they will be easy and all of a sudden lose five or six of them. That would be an absolute disaster for a team that wants to win a divisional title.
Moral of the Story
Point blank, the Canes went into a trap game against the Devils and were caught sleeping, and it cost them a game they had no business losing . The key is to move on and forget about this one. Focus on the Flyers and getting back in to the win column. James Reimer is starting to create some questions around the backup goaltending situation but it’s not to the point of being extremely alarming, yet.
From here it is simple for Carolina: Go on the road, take care of business in Philadelphia, and get that bitter taste from last night out of of their mouths with a solid performance against the Flyers.