Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/29/09 at 09:11 AM ET
On Wednesday, the Hurricanes played host to the St. Louis Blues and stretched their winless streak to seven games by losing 5-2. Since shelling the Panthers 7-2 on October 9, the boys have gone 0-4-3. While there has been some improvement, there are some recurring themes in this losing streak.
The special teams have been getting much better. The power play was two for six and the penalty kill was a perfect one for one. The Canes have now scored at least one power play goal in four straight games. For the fifth time in the last eight games, the PK was perfect. Those are small things, but it’s a start in the right direction.
Unfortunately, some bad trends are continuing. For at least the fourth time this season, the Canes fell asleep at the wheel and allowed two goals in a span of less than 30 seconds. That can do a lot to the landscape of a game. In this game, Eric Staal missed a couple of grade A++ chances, which is another trend that needs to reverse if the Canes expect to win any games.
For about the fifth game in a row, the Hurricanes came out of the gate strong, but couldn’t scratch the scoresheet. Another trend that has to stop. In the first three minutes, Scott Walker had one fantastic scoring chance and Chad LaRose had two. Every time, Chris Mason answered the bell. After the frantic opening, it looked like the Hurricanes skaters ran out of steam. The passing got sloppy, which foiled a few would-be scoring chances in front of the net. This is another common thread in this winless streak.
David Perron put the blues on the board first with a rebound tap-in at 7:32. This after two first period fights supposedly gave the home team some energy. Patrik Berglund’s shot from the left dot was stopped, but Perron pounced on the rebound, and the puck trickled past Ward.
Eight minutes later was when the Hurricanes decided to nap. Yan Stastny forced a Canes turnover deep in the zone and fired a shot from the left dot, beating Ward cleanly at 15:52 with an unassisted goal.
Sixteen seconds later, Jay McClement made it 3-0 on a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad play by the Canes. The Hurricanes were sleepwalking through the neutral zone, which allowed Perron to hit McClement with a stretch pass, splitting two Carolina defensemen, who made no effort. McClement strolled in all alone and beat Ward. The game was already out of control.
Fortunately, the Canes took advantage of a power play situation at 19:07 when Joe Corvo scored from the left point. Eric Staal won an offensive zone faceoff cleanly back to Nic Wallin at the right point. His pass set up the goal.
Only one goal in the second, but it was again the result of bad play by Carolina. They were making a very lackadaisical line change, and the Blues ended up with a three-on-one rush. Andy McDonald from Keith Tkachuk and Roman Polak at 9:42 of the second.
The Canes had several quality chances in the middle frame, but none of them bore fruit and the score was 4-1 after 40 minutes.
Scott Walker breathed some life into the game at 8:12 of the third, batting a rebound out of mid-air. The power play goal was unassisted.
Later in the third, the Canes became really active. This is another theme. They work really hard in the first five and last five minutes of a game, but don’t give as much effort in the 50 minutes in between.
David Perron finished it off with an empty netter at 19:08.
Things will eventually get better for the Canes, but they need to work on the things I’ve enumerated. And many more things. Eventually, they’ll start to score on these grade A++ chances. Eventually, they’ll catch a goalie on a bad night. For now, all they can do is take a few small good things from the games.
The next game for the Canes will be in Philly on Halloween day.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.