Cary, NC – In pro sports, probably more so in hockey, every game is considered a critical game but on this five-game home stand, all games are critical to win and especially when you’re playing a team that is on a four-game losing streak and, on paper, you should be a better team.
That wasn’t the case last night when the Canes lost to the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. This will also sound odd but goalie Petr Mrazek played a good game and couldn’t be faulted on any goal. As solid as the Canes defense is, both on paper and on the ice, the Wings burnt the Canes every time there was a defense lapse.
Staal and Ferland Back in the Lineup
The Canes started the game as the most aggressive team with most of the first 10 minutes in the Wings’ end. Both Jordan Staal and Michael Ferland were back in the lineup after sitting out several games with concussions. Staal is a big, muscular guy who had to have his bell rung; in a one-on-one talk with him last week, when asked how he was doing, he replied “not so good.”
Both Staal and Ferland made their presence known as they were forechecking well and slammed a body or two along the boards in the process. Jordan Martinook lined up a Red Wing along the boards but a nanosecond before delivering what would have been a massive hit, his skate caught a rut, alerting the defender with Marty nearly sending the boards into row D and was just a little slow in getting back on feet. Justin Faulk got called for the first Cane penalty on a questionable interference call giving the Wings the first powerplay of the game.
With the puck loose in front of th goal, Mrazek made a good poke with his stick to get the puck out of the crease over to Martinook. Marty didn’t quite have his balance and tried to send the puck the length on the ice but didn’t get all of it, sending the puck up to Nicklaus Kronwall. Kronwall got the puck on the left point, holding it for a couple of seconds while his forwards created a mass of humanity in front of the goal. When everyone was in place, Kronwall sent a hard slap shot along the ice that went in far side as Mrazek was totally screened. Much harder than it sounds, the defense has to clear the crease to allow any goalie view of the puck.
Svechnikov Snipes Beauty
The Canes lost their best sniper over the summer in Jeff Skinner, which has more goals now than he did all last season, but rookie Andrei Svechnikov is quickly becoming a skilled sniper more and more every game. Keep in mind that Svech is still just 18 years old but he is getting more comfortable every game and has that ability to call his shots.
Calvin de Haan cleared the puck moving it over to Faulker on the right side. Faulker passed it to Svech who slyly used his defender as a screen then sent a quite wrister between the legs of the defender into the net, glove side, to tie the game. There was a very long challenge for offsides on the play and while it was close, the refs determined it was a goal. Due to losing the challenge, the Wings got a delay of game penalty.
The Canes had two power plays during the game but both were non-threatening which, among other things, has to be addressed. The second period was tighter checking by both teams as mid way in the period the Canes had just five shots with the Wings having just two. The Wings’ third shot was deadly as Nick Jensen sent a logo high shot towards the goal that Frans Nielsen tipped in that Mrazek had no chance. Seeing Nielsen all alone in front of the goal sent the coaching staff into orbit.
Oh So Close
The Wings scored early in the third on a similar play except the Canes defense was all over the Wings in the dirty area in front of the crease. Jonathan Ericsson sent a shot knee high from the left point that wound up hitting Trevor van Riemsdyk’s knee then going past Mrazek for a 3-1 lead. The Canes couldn’t catch a break as they nearly scored midway in the period.
With the Canes pressing in front of the net, the puck trickled through the wickets of Jonathan Bernier going 95 percent over the line. Unlike football where if any portion of the ball crosses the “plane” of the goal line it’s a touchdown, in hockey, the whole puck must cross the line. They should check the puck to see if there was any flashing on the perimeter as it was that close. The Canes pulled Mrazek with just over three minutes remaining Dylan Larkin sending a 175-foot shot to seal the win at 4-1.
Next game is Saturday, December 22, 2018 against Pittsburgh. Be there!