While maybe it’s not time to sound the collision alarms, the Carolina Hurricanes are in no position this week to be taking anything lightly.
After giving up a easily winnable game to the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina was heading into Thursday’s match-up with the Dallas Stars as a must-win. In November, it wasn’t. In late February with a playoff spot moving further out of reach, it absolutely was.
Of course, they gave the game away. Again.
Jamie Benn played very well, as he usually does. In fact, most of the Dallas squad came to play. Dallas coming to play isn’t what lost that game, though — it was Carolina playing like this was a throwaway game.
The knee-jerk motivation is to say it’s time to let it go, not dwell on the loss and ‘look to the future.’ It’s easy to say and often not a bad way to rally the troops. Unfortunately in this situation, it’s completely wrong. The last thing the Hurricanes need to be doing is ignoring the Dallas loss. It’s the exact thing they need to be looking at if they’re going to come away from the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks with their pride and playoff hopes intact because those three teams have not been messing around this season.
Things need to happen and not happen. Justin Faulk once again taking idiot penalties like he did in the first period Thursday night is one of those things that needs to not happen. Faulk is so touch and go, it’s hard to rely on him. When he’s on, he’s on, but when he’s not, he’s a disaster. Having him on a pairing with Andrej Sekera should pay off, and it sometimes does. It needs to in L.A. and Anaheim.
A bright spot in the Dallas loss was watching Ron Hainsey take a questionable, if not justified misconduct penalty for bloodying the face of Antoine Roussel for recklessly hitting Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin. Is it a good thing to take 10 minute penalties for dropping gloves in a Hulk-smash type of fury? Not usually. However, it was that throw-down that galvanized the Hurricanes into a “let’s do this” mentality. It’s a shame it happened so late in the game that Dallas had already paid the check and tipped the bartender.
Cleaner passes, tighter defense and an all-around wartime mentality is the only thing that will help Carolina through this Western Conference trip and allow them to remain in playoff contention.