Turns out all the Carolina Hurricanes needed was a trip to Toronto to get back in the win column. Jordan Staal joined his brother Eric in Carolina via trade this off-season and the Thunder Bay, Ontario natives led the way for the Canes, each scoring a goal in the 4-1 beat down of the Maple Leafs. Justin Faulk and Patrick Dwyer also scored for Carolina, and Cam Ward was magnificent in net, turning away 41 shots. The Maple Leafs fall to 1-4 at home and 4-5 overall as the scoring woes continue. Here are some thoughts from the loss:
First, some positivity. Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin continued their strong play last night, with Frattin scoring the lone goal for the Buds. It came off a shot by Kadri when Hurricanes defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti couldn’t corral the rebound and Frattin was there to bang it in. Frattin has impressed with his tenacity and willingness to get his nose dirty in front of the net, as he’s now scored five goals in six games. He’s also second in team scoring with seven points, and unsurprisingly, Kadri is first with eight.
Kessel Still Can’t Score
This is getting old. The hard-luck winger had four shots on net, but unfortunately a brick wall named Cam Ward came to play last night. He’s still playing hard and skating well, but I’d like to see him take the puck hard to the net and be more aggressive. He hasn’t developed the same chemistry he had with Joffrey Lupul with any other winger he’s played with, but Lupul isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. Let’s just hope he finds the back of the net tonight in Washington so we don’t have to hear about this anymore.
Special Teams Woes
The Leafs had another goose egg on the man-advantage, going 0-for-5 on the night. The penalty kill was just as bad, allowing two goals on four times short-handed. The power play peppered shots on net, but many of them came from outside and were harmless. Randy Carlyle and his coaching staff might want to get a little more creative with the power play strategy, because it clearly isn’t working for them right now. The penalty kill was carved up by the Hurricanes’ plethora of offensive weapons, and Reimer wasn’t at fault for either goal.
Will Pay For Defensemen
The loss of Carl Gunnarsson wasn’t as noticeable in Saturday’s game against Boston, but it was painfully obvious they missed him last night. On the opening goal by Jordan Staal, he was left wide open in front of Reimer with four Leafs (including both defensemen, John-Michael Liles and Korbinian Holzer) in the corner fighting for a loose puck. Dwyer dug the puck out and found Staal in front, who deftly went forehand to backhand to the back of the net. Faulk scored on a one-timer off a cross-ice pass by Jeff Skinner that went right through the Leafs’ D like it wasn’t even there. This team has a lot of flaws, but their biggest one is unquestionably this ragtag crew on the blueline.