I recently wrote an article on how the Hurricanes needed to take each game one point at a time. One of the important things for a struggling team is to take advantage of games against other struggling opponents, and at least steal a point in those games. Tuesday night the Canes started a Canadian road trip and they took on the Jets, who are in a similar situation. It was a perfect opportunity to get on the right track, and at least steal another point before having to face some of the juggernauts of the Metro division later in the season. They did not take advantage of the opportunity and left Winnipeg still winless on the season. Here are some quick hits on what went down in Winnipeg.
The Return of “Skins”
Jeff Skinner missed the beginning of the season with a concussion. Last night was his return, and he finished with a team high 5 shots on goal. He was also a minus-1 and had a team high 4 penalty minutes. The scoring chances populated for Skinner but that is expected from a player of his caliber. It is only his first game back, but the Canes need better play from him. The penalties he took were unnecessary, and he wasn’t crashing the net and even though he had 5-shots, they didn’t test the goalie. Hopefully this game was just Skinner getting his legs under him, and he comes into the next game completely healthy and ready to put some points up for a team that desperately needs a spark.
This game gave fans more confidence in Anton Khudobin. The first goal was a tad soft, but after that Khudobin kept the Hurricanes in the game. He finished the game with 23 saves on 26 shots. He let a deflection goal in caused by traffic in front of the net, and then again on a breakaway that Justin Faulk let slip by him. Besides the goals Khudobin made some big saves and kept the puck out of the net. He was moving well laterally inside the crease and was pushing rebounds away from the front of the goal. If he can keep playing like this, and gets more defense in front of him, his stats will increase. Right now the Canes have a goalie playing well enough to win, but a team that is missing that spark on defense and on offense.
What Can Motivate This Team?
There is no jam with this team. Only a handful of players seem like the are playing inspired hockey, and they are the ones who are most likely fighting for jobs. Terry, and Boychuk continued to bring energy to the line up when they were on the ice. The team was down two goals with less than 3 minutes in the game, and Chris Terry, Zach Boychuk, and Ryan Murphy took the ice to get a goal. All three of those players were either in the AHL, or a healthy scratch to start the season. The Hurricanes badly need a spark, and they need to see some heart from players like Justin Faulk, Alexander Semin, and Jeff Skinner (if he is truly healthy). Getting chances are great, but they need to capitalize. This team can’t succeed without their stars scoring goals. The team has a back-to-back against Calgary and Edmonton which will be a chance for these big salaries to help spark this team to get anything going in the win column in this young season. The Canes still have time to turn it around, but do they have the spark to do it? For now they stay the only winless team in the NHL.
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.