Toughness wanted by Canes head coach
Posted January 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The home opener for the Hurricanes did not go as planned, as they fell 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The first period looked eerily similar to Saturday’s season opener in Florida. Carolina watched the opponent take control early, jumping out to a commanding lead while the Canes tried to find their game.
With an amped home crowd the Hurricanes had the jump for the first three minutes, but there was not enough physical play for 60 minutes to make life difficult for the Lightning. In the first two games, Carolina has not made life difficult for the guys on the other bench. While pouring 36 shots on Tampa goalie Mathieu Garon, there was not enough net presence by the Canes to make those shots tough to handle.
Carolina is now 0-2 to start the season, which under normal circumstances wouldn't raise eyebrows. But this is not a normal year with a condensed schedule magnifying losses.
The Hurricanes haven’t had the chemistry between the lines early on, and as a result the offensive output has not been there. The Canes have scored two goals in two games while surrendering nine. The offensive output has to pick up, and there might be a sign that can happen. Jeff Skinner scored his first of the year, which happened to be the team’s first power play marker, and the man-advantage had several good chances against Tampa that with more games and timing will be buried.
Tampa put four goals past Cam Ward, but unlike the opener, Ward stuck around for the full game and grew stronger as the contest wore on. It’s hard to tell what effect the lockout has had on individual players, but goaltenders that didn’t get work have had a rough start.
The defensive struggles continued, as the Canes were caught out of position or failed to clear the zone several times, leading to chances that the Lightning didn’t miss.
Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller remained positive, letting the media know that the team game improved from Saturday to Tuesday. But he knows that the results are all that matters in the NHL.
If there is an area where Muller is disappointed in his team it is in the toughness department. He pointed it out after the 4-1 loss by saying several times that his team needs to play a tougher game.
With the Buffalo Sabres next up for a back-to-back set, the Canes don't have a lot of time to get tougher. If the Hurricanes want to avoid an 0-3 start, they need to get to find a way to get to that point by the time the puck drops Thursday.