Are you ready?
Posted February 26, 2009
Two streaks were halted Tuesday night in Ottawa for the boys that will wear their third jerseys tonight. By dropping a 4-2 verdict to the Ottawa Senators the Canes stopped a three game winning streak and a four gamer on the road. To the Hurricanes credit, they started to mount some offensive pressure and improve their team game defensively as the game progressed. But it slipped out of their hands by having a poor first period. The game can take some kind of spin in the direction of the shot chart but in this opinion is just that, spin. The Hurricanes managed over 40 shots on Alex Auld. Most of those were drive by opportunities without the benefit of sustained pressure. No, this one was lost right out of the chute. For a team attempting to make a leap back into the "playoff eight" their readiness to play was questionable. This might be the last "mulligan" the Hurricanes have left in terms of being prepped to go. By winning three of the last four sure they are in great striking distance of many teams. But it is certainly baffling as to why the Canes came out in Canada's capital as they did.
The Hurricanes did not seem ready for Ottawa's team speed. Their fore check was aggressive and seemed to pin the Hurricanes in. This is never a good thing when teams start to recognize this characteristic. Although at times Buffalo will sit back, tonight they might try to force the issue and the Canes will need to adapt. A couple of weeks back the Hurricanes played as sound a game as possible in Buffalo. It was the ability to break the puck out and skate and move with speed through the middle of the ice that was key in that win. They will need to be sharper in their own end tonight and be ready for some pressure. Something they did not do in the first twenty in Ottawa.
By not moving their feet and not being ready for Ottawa's pressure, the Canes then went to the next digression. They did not mange the puck well. Turnovers and the inability to get the puck out of trouble was a direct factor in Ottawa's second goal. Being even with that said, where was the "back" defensive pressure from the forwards. How was Chris Kelly that wide open? The dark side of Carolina's forward group from a defensive standpoint reared it's ugly head, again. POW it was in the net.
The we get to the goalie. Ah yes, we always seem to some end up at Mr. Ward. For a guy who seems to get blamed when things go off the tracks, Cam Ward was sharp unlike his mates in the early going. He covered up for many miscues. Then again this has been happening all season. On Mike Comrie's goal, he was not good. There was an outward sign of displeasure after being scored on that you never want to see as he slammed his stick over the crossbar. It's true that Ward can elevate his game. But he was not given a chance to redeem himself. By being pulled Michael Leighton was thrown into the fire of a power play and was scored on from a bad angle on the first chance. Leighton, to his credit was much like the team and improved as the game moved on but it was too late. Would Ward have had that shot if left in? Likely, he would not have. Based on the way he has played this season he deserved a chance to respond to a below average first, but it didn't occur.
Letting games slip in the first is not a road a potential play off team wants to go down. The Hurricanes have improved their defensive game and need to be sharper tonight. They have two chances with the Buffalo crew at home. Each need to be in the win column. The Mulligan's have been burned and it's now stroke for stroke. Being prepared and sound in their own end should be the order of the day. The Hurricanes have a great chance to show what they can do from the start. If not, recovery time is fleeting.