Quantity Over Quality Dooms Canes
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Canes lost a game in which they outshot their opponent by a healthy margin. In episode 2 of #CanesAfterDark, Carolina fired more pucks on net than did the Kings in all 3 periods, and after 60 minutes wrapped up, not a single one changed the 0 on the good side of the scoreboard. This marks 132 consecutive regulation minutes without a goal. For those tracking at home, that’s not good.
Much like Wednesday night’s contest in Colorado, the Canes were awarded an early powerplay when Marian Gaborik got a little too friendly with Brock McGinn. Much like
Wednesday this season, it was all for naught. On the brightside, Carolina kept the puck in the offensive zone for big stretches of the man advantage, but as we’ve seen all too often, the umbrella setup with no one actually in front of the opposing netminder led to nothing more than passes from one guy with no good chance to score to another.
Roughly midway through the first period, Michal Jordan got dinged for interference against Gaborik. Unlike the Canes PP effort, the Kings were successful on theirs thanks largely to a better (see: aggressive) strategy, and Jay McClement chasing the puck rather than playing position. It was an uncommon miscue from a guy who’s normally a damn fine penalty killer. Carolina had another powerplay later in the period, and quite frankly, I’d rather not talk about it.
Unless you just want to laugh at Jamie “Vanilla Extract” McBain for chipping the puck over the glass, there’s really nothing worth noting from the second period. In an uneventful game, the second period made the first look exciting.
Despite an offense as threatening as kindergarten safety scissors, the Canes only trailed by one goal heading into the third period. Apparently that was too close of a game for Ron Hainsey, who ran the spread option perfectly by pitching the puck to a wide open Anze Kopitar. Being immensely talented, Kopitar shrugged off Justin Faulk and beat Cam Ward to give LA a 2-0 lead. For good measure, Tyler Toffoli scored again late in the third making the final score 3-0 Kings. Spoiler alert: Toffoli is good at hockey.
I’ve said I’m trying to focus on the positives this season, but man oh man, last night/this morning’s game didn’t make it easy, and I’m not going to break out the turd polish.
This team is seriously lacking offensive identity, quality scoring chances, and defensive consistency. A lot of these problems are to be expected based on our roster makeup. We’re no paper tiger, and there’s a lot of youth, particularly on the blue line. However, there are still enough quality NHL players that we shouldn’t be struggling so damn much to score against teams not named Detroit.
Booze: Foothills’ October IPA of the month came through big last night, giving me the strength I needed to get through the drudgery of watching the boys in red and white.
Jordan Staal: Hear me out on this one, because I thought he started strong last night. Despite playing physical for the first 10-15 minutes of the game, Staal the Larger once again vanished as the game went on. For as much as people (myself certainly among them) bag on Eric for his effort, at least the captain puts up some points. We’re 7 games into the season, and Jordan Staal has ZERO points and only 7 shots on goal. He’s 6’4″, 220 pounds, but it’s like he doesn’t know that. He’ll lean on someone in the corner, but I’ll be damned if he’s going to use that size to create space for him or his linemates. Great, he wins faceoffs. His possession numbers are strong, whoopdeedamndoo. Last I checked, neither of those win games when there’s a bagel on our side of the board.
Ryan Murphy: What is the function of this item? We all understand that Murphy is never going to be a shutdown defenseman, and that the goal for him is to be reliable enough in his own zone, while being an offensive threat, particularly on the powerplay. By my count, that’s three strikes. Perhaps he’s sorely lacking confidence, but his decision making and hesitation while trying to QB the PP is just awful, and should probably be abandoned sooner than later. Even the most junior of EA NHL players knows that you don’t make a pass from one point to the other when the opposing forward is well above the circles. Apparently Murphy didn’t get that message when he made a simply awful turnover on a first period man advantage that luckily wasn’t cashed in.
Offensive Strategy: I’m trying hard to stay positive, I truly am, but the offensive gameplan that’s been rolled out the last few games is beyond baffling. A prime example of this was a far pad shot from Eric Staal, yet neither of his linemates drove the net. Why take a low percentage shot (which can be a good plan at times) if there’s no one to scoop up the rebound goal? Yes, the opposition is forcing us to the outside, but how about we try to assert ourselves with guys who are, I dunno, 6’4, 200+ pounds? We’re trying to shoot ourselves out of a slump and it’s not working.
So it’s on to San Jose tonight, and hopefully the effort will be better. Carolina is 28th in goals for per game, powerplay percentage, and wouldn’t you know it, 28th in the standings! By no means is all hope lost this season. It’s still so early, but it’s high time to dictate play and score some damn goals!