Because I mean, the Jackets had lost their last five in a row, were missing one of their leading scorers due to COVID protocol and hadn’t beaten the Canes in their last five matches.
But we should have all seen this coming right?
Even with the Canes missing their top defenseman and having been off for so many days, there was a force on Columbus’ side much more powerful than any of those: A nationally televised game.
While the perception that the Canes are atrocious in nationally televised games isn’t necessarily a given, being that they’re 5-5-2 in the last decade on national broadcasts, maybe the reason it feels so bad is because they haven’t won one since 2017.
So the national broadcast curse can still be a thing, but we’ll check back in again on March 12.
Anyway, Elvis Merzlikins turned aside 31 shots and saved 2.993 goals above expected in the first shutout the Hurricanes have allowed this season.
The Canes had chances to take the lead multiple times, but a combination of blown chances — 17 missed shots in last nights game including multiple from clear looks in the slot — and Merzlikins making superstar saves halted any progress on that front.
Merzlikins played extremely well, but to be honest, the Canes’ uninspired defense meant that he barely needed to be that sharp.
The Canes lost multiple net front battles before the Jackets scored their first goal, a breakaway led to the second, a turnover to cross-ice one-timer for the third, turnover to in alone for the fourth, breakaway for the fifth and breakaway for the sixth.
An abysmal defensive performance at home. One that just cannot happen.
“I don’t think we played well at all,” said Tony DeAngelo. “We just didn’t have much the whole game. Even when we had a good shift, it was one followed up by one for Columbus, two for Columbus, three Columbus. It was sloppy.”
Is Jaccob Slavin that important to the team’s overall success that they just implode without him? I’d hope not, but the sample doesn’t look too promising.
Jack LaFontaine didn’t have to wait long to see NHL action after Frederik Andersen was pulled after the fourth goal, and well… maybe he would have wanted to wait just a little bit longer.
Two goals against — each off of breakaways — on three shots probably wasn’t how LaFontaine imagined his first NHL experience, but the Hurricanes made sure to spoil any hope he had with their poor play.
“We came out flat and stayed flat and continued to be flat,” said captain Jordan Staal after the loss. “It was embarrassing. I feel bad for our goalies. I really feel bad for Jack, that’s my bad there. We’re going to play better in front of them next game.”
Luckily for the Canes, they had points in 10 of their last 11 games before this meeting and are a team perfectly capable of turning it around. They have practice on Friday before an afternoon matinee against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
“This will be easy tomorrow because I’ll have everybody’s attention,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Trust me. I don’t need to say too much.”