Whereas at one time it seemed like the Carolina Hurricanes were about to head out west and get crazy all over the Pacific Division, it has turned into deja vu with the team ‘happy to come away with a point.’
First and foremost there was no reason at all for the Hurricanes to go to overtime with both the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames. Even going to overtime, there’s no reason for them to have dropped not one but both games. Simply put, Carolina has been far and away the better team in December than both opponents combined.
So far on the western road trip, the only opponent that maybe had a claim to this was the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver had been riding a hot streak with two killer goaltenders. Vancouver is not the droid we’re looking for, move along.
With the disgusting performance in Edmonton and then the festival of breakdowns in Calgary on Thursday night, fans are right to question where the Hurricanes of a week ago have gone. When so recently they had tilted ice and dictated action against the Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks, going back to eking out a point in overtime is a tough pill to swallow.
This is simply coming from basic breakdowns in hockey fundamentals. Looking at Calgary’s overtime winning goal will sum up the problems of late in one replay. With Chris Butler gaining the zone with some steam, Carolina had three skaters on the shooter’s right. Granted playing man-to-man in overtime is falling out of trend, but with Butler coming in hot the recently not injured Alexander Semin needed only cut to his right with steam and hard stop in the middle of the shooting lane. He didn’t.
Semin circled around in grand fashion, allowing that pesky inertia thing to take him right back out of the play. Overloaded on the right side with a Russian guy out of the lane, Butler had a gimme for the game-winner.
While this may just be one goal, it shows the issue Carolina is having on this road trip — basic failures in fundamental hockey skills. With the exception of Jeff Skinner, who simply no longer cares and is tearing the joint apart on a nightly basis, Carolina is making absolutely brainless decisions on the ice. On more than one occasion, defenders have taken the shooter in 2-on-1 rushes. Youth players know better than this. Both Cam Ward and Justin Peters have thrown themselves so far out of position on a number of plays that shooters almost have to laugh at the ease with which they score.
With the Phoenix Coyotes next on Carolina’s dance card, head coach Kirk Muller would be well-advised to start returning to some basic strategy. Simple things are going to kill the Hurricanes’ game. When they were taking down the giants of the league a week ago, to go back to being ‘happy with a point’ should never be a thing.