Most of the Carolina Hurricanes‘ history is dominated by their alter ego, the “Cardiac Canes.”
This is a moniker invented by Fox Sports Carolinas play-by-play announcer John Forslund. What he was referring to was the habit the Hurricanes have of waiting until the very last moment in a game, or even a season, to pull out a spectacular comeback. The Miracle At Molson, the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, the entire 2009 season– all examples of the Cardiac Canes.
This is not a good look.
More times than not, relying on this alter ego has caused the Hurricanes to come up short. Thinking you can just whip out a win at the end is a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment. Leaving the outcome of a game, series, or season up to your ability to come from behind is tantamount to throwing dice.
Last night’s preseason win over the Columbus Blue Jackets was yet another example of the Hurricanes thinking they can just pull it off at the end and be okay. Columbus outshot Carolina 10-6 in the first period and took a one-goal lead to the dressing room for their troubles. While it’s true that the Hurricanes tied the game in the second period and later came back to win on a Nathan Gerbe goal, that goal was at 19:22 of the third period. More Cardiac Canes.
Seeing another occurrence of this habit should give fans and coaches alike reason for pause. While it’s true that goaltender Cam Ward rebounds from tough goals arguably quicker than any goaltender in the league currently, should he have to? Ward gave up an early goal last night, and was lights out for the remainder of the game.
Too often though, the Hurricanes’ defense will put Ward in situations where he makes spectacular saves that he shouldn’t have to make. Given the choice, head coach Kirk Muller would much rather see the team come out strong and not let up, as opposed to regrouping late and going all in on late-game heroics.
Playoff hockey has not happened in Carolina since 2009, when the Hurricanes came up short against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. If tailgate parties are to happen at PNC Arena in April, the Hurricanes need to reclaim some of the dominant hockey they showed flashes of in 2006. Currently, the Cardiac Canes model is not working out, and hasn’t for some time.
If the team is to avoid another season of coming up short, one way or another, Muller needs to find a way to get his team to play like they do the end of the game — at the beginning.