About Last Night: Canes sinks his own ship, wastes a golden opportunity

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The Carolina Hurricanes wasted their best offensive performance to date as four unanswered goals from the Lightning sealed their fate in Game 4 with a 6-4 final score on Saturday night at Amalie Arena.

The Canes’ inability to stay out of the penalty box was the recipe for disaster as seven penalties were imposed on the Hurricanes, who shot themselves in the foot all night only to see themselves backed into a corner with a 3-1 deficit in the series.

But let’s take a closer look at how Carolina lost last night and where they can go from here:

Special teams

Special teams were the main reason the Hurricanes lost last night’s game and were a main reason they lag behind in the series.

Tampa had a 50% power play success rate last night, scoring on three of its six chances and has a 42% plus success rate in the series, scoring six times out of 14 total attempts. This means that the Hurricanes’ much-vaunted shots on goal only work at a 58% success rate, which is appalling.

To be fair, any team will have a hard time countering the Bolts’ very talented top unit. The movement and fluidity that they not only have in position, but also in their passing and shooting is incredibly difficult to follow, but if the Canes can’t find a way to slow them down, then their fate was already sealed even before. that the washer does not fall.

On the other side of the special teams battle, Carolina got just two attempts last night and scored none, and neither of those power plays even looked competitive, giving the Lightning more of a shot. momentum than what they have gathered for themselves.

Overall, the Canes have only scored twice for the men’s advantage on 11 occasions, but at least one of those goals was the overtime winner in Game 3. So the power play didn’t. not been a death sentence, but he’s so outclassed by the Bolts.

The point is, they just can’t take that many penalties against Tampa Bay Lightning and expect to come away with a win.

Whether or not you wanted to blame the refereeing, the Canes were doing each other no favors and putting themselves in positions where the referees could make the calls. They need to be smarter and more disciplined overall.

The battle of the coaches

At some point, the coaching staff must also take their share of the responsibility.

The last series made it seem like John Hynes was Rod Brind’Amour’s coach, but that was mainly because Nashville implemented their game plan to mostly counter Carolina’s style of play.

In this series though, Tampa Bay is just playing its game and Carolina has lined up well in 5v5, but it still feels off balance.

Tampa has the ability to fully adjust its game, whether it’s keeping a lead or taking on the challenge of coming back into a game. There’s a whole different mindset with their squad when the storylines change and that’s something Carolina hasn’t yet been able to accomplish or counter.

Let’s start with the defensive side.

Once touted as the lifeblood of the franchise, the Hurricane defense has apparently started to shed the heights it once held. The Hurricanes are giving up a lot of high danger chances, and the inability to clear areas has become far too constant to be circumstantial.

This has been a problem in the regular season and has felt just as prevalent throughout the playoffs.

The difference has been that the Carolina goalies have bailed the team over and over again when they gave up those A-grade chances, but they can only come in so many times and we see that in this series.

Is it only on players or is there a larger system hampering the Canes? Either way, adjustments need to be made to have a much tighter game defensively.

Now offensively and tied at the first point, the power play has been a huge question mark, sometimes pretty good but other times just plain awful. If you want to run and shoot with the Bolts you have to be able to score or at the very least be able to maintain some pressure and last night the power play did none of that.

And as Brind’Amour admitted, there’s no real strategy with that.

We rely on players to get away from the feel and the chemistry, but without a real plan or system, we can see why it can tip so much one way or the other.

It is obvious that Tampa and Nashville began to understand the tendencies of the Canes and then were able to smother the Canes on the entry to the zone and disrupt the passes.

Looks like the Canes want to keep doing the same things over and over again and are hoping their relentlessness breaks through, but it would be a lot easier if they made simple adjustments here and there to disrupt the cycle.

This goes not only for power play, but also for 5v5 play.

And in the same vein of not changing things came the questionable decision to keep Petr Mrazek in net for the third period.

Mrazek obviously didn’t have a good game after two periods, but it was still only a one-goal game at that point. The decision to keep him, while consistent with what we’ve seen from Brind’Amour over the years, was a decision of stubborn faith.

There is no guarantee that Alex Nedeljkovic would have won them this game, but a change should have been made, if only for a potential spark for the team.

Now that doesn’t mean the coaching staff is to blame, but just like the players, they also need to be better if the Hurricanes are to save their season. Whether it’s small tweaks with gameplay strategy or helping find solutions for mental failings, it’s going to have to be everyone’s business for Game 5.

Where to go from here?

From the start, the battle was going to be difficult.

Canes face defense Stanley cup champions – who are $ 17 million above the salary cap – and they would do so without their regular-season third-leading scorer, Nino Niederreiter.

Now they are missing Vincent Trocheck – their second-leading scorer – and there is a question mark hanging over Warren Foegele who was clearly not healthy enough to be effective on the ice without a shot attempt or setting. failure in match 4.

So where do you go from here?

The first step must be to get back to Nedeljkovic.

It made sense at the time to go with Petr Mrazek for Game 4. He was spectacular in Game 3 and won the game for the Canes, but he just wasn’t good enough last night. Nedeljkovic will be rested both physically and mentally and it is time for him to finish what he started regardless of the end result.

And then it’s time to decide with the rest of the programming.

Trocheck can make a difference, but only if he’s healthy enough to make that difference and similarly if Foegele isn’t good enough to be effective either, don’t play him. Location in Max McCormick. He’s not the answer to their problems, but he can at least offer something with his bravery and energy if Foegele is too injured to play his game.

Then there is the defense. Brett Pesce and Brady Skjei went their separate ways to limit the exploitation of Jake Bean and Jani Hakanpaa’s third pair and it still wasn’t pretty.

First off, Jake Bean hasn’t had a good playoff himself. He was outmatched at his own end and his decision making hurt the Canes several times. A stint in the press box might do him good to take a step back and watch the game develop from above.

But Pesce and Skjei need to be replenished, and the minutes of the first two pairs need to be increased.

Then the team must mentally lock in. Stupid penalties kill them and they really sink their own ship.

To waste a golden opportunity – scoring four goals on Andrei Vasilevskiy, which probably won’t happen again – is playoff death.

There have also been far too many freebies and defensive failures from the Canes for them to simply be written off. This is a major concern as the team has shown they can run with Tampa at 5v5, but these blunders continue to be exploited by the Lightning.

It might be too late to save the season at this point, but the team at least have to fight to the end and it starts out just being more mentally sharp than previous games.

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