Nobody should have expected the Jets to be an easy game, and they weren’t. But Carolina didn’t exactly take a flop on the ice, either. Both teams played exceptionally well, and it just happened to be the Hurricanes that flinched last. It wasn’t the last minute penalty to Eric Staal, it wasn’t an inability to solve Ondrej Pavelec or any other pseudo-explanation. The game simply ran too short for the Hurricanes.
Given enough time, Carolina more than likely would have caught up and taken the lead. That’s just the kind of game it was. Two evenly matched teams slugging it out.
While it was frustrating to watch the Hurricanes be denied entry to the attacking zone repeatedly, it was also heartening to see them do the same to Winnipeg. Carolina’s defense has been porous to say the least of late, and to see them hold the blue line shows promise for the days to come. This will be handy moving forward in post-Olympic break hockey.
On the offensive side, it seemed as though the Hurricanes were having problems executing plays. They clearly had plays drawn up by head coach Kirk Muller, but they just weren’t materializing. This is good, though, because it means the chemistry is there. Each line is working as a unit and doing the most important thing of all — communicating.
Of course, taking a loss to Winnipeg does absolutely nothing for the Hurricanes as far as the standings are concerned. However, what it does do is show that they can refrain from imploding when facing a comparable team. Should the playoffs begin today, this is a skill that needs to happen.
Just two games remain before the break for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Canes take on the Florida Panthers on Friday, then the Montreal Canadiens the following day. While it might seem weird to say, the same team that came out against Winnipeg needs to come out for these two games. This gelled, communicative, stern and focused team is the one that needs to close out the tumultuous first half of the season.