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About Last Night: Tired Legs and Mental Mistakes

The Carolina Hurricanes gave up a last-second goal to the New York Islanders as they lost 2-1 at PNC Arena Friday night.

New York Islanders v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes just did not have it against the New York Islanders. Well, they almost had a point, tying the game with under a minute to go, but then they gave up a goal with 15 seconds remaining.

To be fair, the Canes were playing on the tail end of a back-to-back and their third game in four days and were facing one of the stingiest teams in the entire league.

But the real sinker for Carolina last night was that they just couldn’t get out of their own way.

Brutal turnovers, bad power plays and a lack of physical response sealed the deal for the Hurricanes without the Islanders having to put together too much of a push.

Let’s take a closer look at last night’s game:

Defensive Lapses

Despite the Hurricanes having some top tier blueliners, the defensive gaffs have been ample the last few weeks.

Poor coverage, leaving opponents wide open, getting burned in the neutral zone, turnovers, the list can on as the recent stretch of games has been anything but good for Carolina’s defenders.

Coincidentally, it comes alongside the goaltending coming back down to Earth as of late, with Frederik Andersen not being able to bail out the team in his last few starts.

Ethan Bear struggled in his return from injury, with too much hesitation in his game and a handful of turnovers, one of which leading directly to the Islanders’ first goal.

Tony DeAngelo has also been pressing too hard lately, getting caught out of position too often.

And the Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei pairing, that has often had the toughest assignments, has been struggling to force opponents off of pucks in the defensive zone.

The defense is capable of being a stalwart force that the Canes can build their game from, but until they can refocus and find their game, the team isn’t going to go far.

Power Play Inconsistency

In the wise words of Katy Perry:

“‘Cause you’re hot then you’re cold

You’re yes then you’re no

You’re in then you’re out

You’re up then you’re down.”

The Carolina Hurricanes’ power play is a testament to inconsistency and it’s running out of time to figure things out.

“They’ve been terrible, let’s just be honest,” Brind’Amour said. “The second unit has actually been pretty good. They get in every time and get some action, but our first group has got to get way better. They’re not executing. There’s no speed. They’re just coming up kind of nonchalant. There’s got to be more, you’ve got to have a little more intensity there.”

There is too much talent on the Hurricanes’ top unit for them to not be able to generate good looks consistently on at least one of their power play chances a game.

The power play at times is slow and predictable with passes being heavily choreographed and the net-front presence virtually non-existent. But the frustrating part is that the top power play has been so lethal at times, doing everything the right way.

The power play has scored just one goal in its last 18 attempts, but before that, had scored four times in seven chances – all in games against playoff teams.

Maybe the intensity they need will pick back up when the postseason hits, but being that the special teams has killed the Hurricanes in all three of its last playoff runs, some more consistency earlier would probably help fans feel more at ease.

Tight Schedule and Tired Legs

The Hurricanes were obviously not at their best last night and Brind’Amour had a bit of a guess as to why.

“From my point of view, we were really gassed,” Brind’Amour said. “There was no energy in our legs. We had no speed to get in and get on them.”

It isn’t the first time that Brind’Amour has chalked up a loss to a lack of energy and it might not be the last with 10 games in 19 days left. However, with only one more back-to-back and three in four left – ironically the second half of the back-to-back is against the Isles again – maybe the Canes will be fine on the way through to the postseason.

There also really shouldn’t be any back-to-backs come playoff time and there really isn’t any reason for the Hurricanes to gas themselves at the end of the regular season.

It is going to be a weird stretch with the team already having secured a playoff berth and maybe tinkering with different line combinations, but fans are going to have to bear with it.

Despite that, the team has pride and wants to win every night, so the response game against Anaheim on Sunday will be telling.

Also of note, Casey Cizikas boarded Brendan Smith in the third period of last night’s game and was assessed just a two-minute minor penalty. Smith did not return to the game and Brind’Amour did not have an update on him after the game.

The Department of Player Safety flagged the hit and Cizikas will have a hearing today so there is a chance he will be suspended for it. It was a bad hit as Cizikas saw numbers the whole way yet still finished off Smith, who was in a vulnerable position.