A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Caps 3 - Canes 1

On Saturday night, the Canes fell to the visiting Capitals 3-1. In the process, they let slip away a golden opportunity to gain ground on the Senators in the race for the Eastern Conference top spot.

I thought seriously about providing a Shark Sandwich-esque review of the game here. I thought about describing the game with the same the same words used to describe Mr. Grinch. While it would have been funny, the two, or three-word review wouldn't do justice to the game and how bad the boys were.

It was a horrible game. When Alex Ovechkin scored at 1:50 of the first period on the Caps first shot of the game, that would be a harbinger of things to come. When Mike Pettinger scored shorthandedly at 0:47 of the second period on the Caps first shot of that period, we may has well have packed it up.

There were some officiating issues early on, but I'm not here to bitch about the reffing. Late in the game, the Canes were given power play after power play, two man advantage after two man advantage. Only one of the power plays bore fruit.

On the power plays, the Canes seemed content to spread the puck around and not take any shots. They didn't even attempt to create any traffic out front.

On even-strength sequences, the Canes were absolutely terrible with their forechecking, or lack of same. They never got in a position to apply any pressure offensively. It's frustrating and painful to watch that happen any time. Against a team that is (at least on paper) grossly inferior, it's infuriating.

Eric Staal had his seven game point streak brought to a screeching halt. He looked horrible out there. Early in the game, he was getting beat up a bit, and he never looked comfortable out there at all.

Aside from Kevyn Adams, none of the forwards looked sharp at all. We definitely did not look like a team that had just enjoyed two days off. We didn't look like team that was excited to be back in its own barn after nine of ten on the road. We sure as shit didn't look like a top team in the conference.

They haven't played a full 60 minutes in quite some time now. However, we've been getting 40 in most games lately. Last night, I think the boys played for about four minutes. It was completely awful.

The boys were still without the services of Doug Weight and Bret Hedican. Both are key pieces to the team, but their absences don't excuse the lackluster play the Canes exhibited.

The power play continues to struggle. Last night, Carolina converted one of nine chances, and they've only scored six power play goals on 64 chances since the Erik Cole injury. This is going to have to change. If we hope to advance at all in the playoffs, we're going to have to start scoring on the man advantage. 10% doesn't cut the mustard.

If there's anything at all that's even remotely positive to say about the game, it is that the defense was "okay". Washington had several breakaway chances that were foiled by good defensive hustle. Most notably, Aaron Ward. He skated hard and hit hard for most of the night.

Speaking of hard-hitting defensemen, the University of Michigan lost 5-1 to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This means that Jack Johnson's freshman season is officially over. The Canes will be pushing hard to get him signed. Preliminary indications are that Johnson will return to Ann Arbor for at least one more season.

Josef Vasicek, who has been practicing with the team for a while, was in uniform for the pre-game skate. He was not, though, in the lineup. I would be surprised if he's held out much longer. We've been skating with only 17 healthy skaters, and we really need him back on the ice. For last night's game, Keith Aucoin was called up from Lowell, but only skated one shift. Even with him, there were still only 17 healthy skaters.

The disappointing loss to the Caps had better be a wakeup call. We will face them four more times in the next two weeks. We will be facing divisional opponents almost exclusively for the rest of the season, which will give us a chance to straighten up, fly right, and sew up our division title.

Up next: a key matchup against second place Tampa on Monday. We need a regulation win.

1 comment:

Bill Purdy said...

The graphic was delivered in the RSS feed, and was the first thing I saw when I opened Google Reader. I started laughing even before I read your synopsis cuz I knew exactly what was coming.

Brilliant, and apropos.


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