In lieu of my traditional game recaps, this one is going to be far more editorialized based on what I read on Twitter and various other corners of the internets (yes, all of them) during and after last night’s 4-1 loss to the Panthers.

Eddie Lack made his Hurricanes debut last night, and the boys in front of him were kind enough to make sure it wasn’t a boring start. In the first 2:01 of the game, Lack faced several shots and gave up a goal to a COMPLETELY uncovered Nick Bjugstad. Here’s the thing about Bjugstad: he’s 6’6″ and well over 200 pounds, and that should, in theory, make him hard to miss. Of all places to leave a guy of that size, not to mention skill, the slot is probably the worst option. Woof.

Gonna hit the fast forward button to the second period and focus on the good that came on Elias Lindholm‘s first goal of the season. For roughly 10 minutes, the Canes were playing some pretty decent hockey, and it finally paid off on a damn fine play. Justin Faulk set up at the point, found Brad Malone, who sent a nifty little pass over to Lindy, and then ripped it past Al (hot goalie) Montoya.

Let’s just pretend the 3rd period didn’t exist. That cool with everyone? No?! Ok, fine. Noah Hanifin got turned around on a self-pass from ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr (who according to twitter was instrumental in the Lousiana Purchase), Ryan Murphy continued his streak of games with horrid turnovers, and our team defense was simply atrocious.

“But Derek, I thought you titled this post ‘Pump the Brakes’ and I’ve read almost all negativity” you may be saying to yourself.  Here’s the thing: yes, there was a lot of flat-out bad hockey last night, however, what sort of expectations did you have for this team if you’re already planning your bridge jump?

Carolina started the season with a young defense. Faulk, Hanifin, and Murphy make up half of the blue line and they’re a combined 63 years old. For comparison’s sake, that’s 7 years younger than Jaromir Jagr (don’t fact check that). When James Wisniewski got hurt, that only made our defensive depth more of a concern.

The other major concern this season was “where are the goals going to come from?” After three games, the Canes have 5 goals. Sure, that’s not good, but it’s damn near in line with many expectations.

Keep an eye on individual growth more than the league standings this season.  Watch to see how Murphy’s decision making improves, or how Hanifin learns from being out-maneuvered by some of the all-time greats.

Let’s see how Lindholm develops and if he becomes a quintessential Swedish playmaking power forward. Can Terry become more than a PP guy? Skinner is still a young guy, but is he really a guy we can count on for 25-30 goals?

Worry about these things this season more than the record. You’ll have a lot more fun, and after last season, we all need more fun. And for what it’s worth, the Canes have as many goals and wins as the Kings and Penguins combined. Take a deep breath, there are still 79 games left.