The more things change, the more they stay the same. If you’re the Carolina Hurricanes, it’s been the same story for a while now. Good effort, good work, but you’ll most likely wake up with a loss in the morning.
Such was the case in the long-awaited game one against the Detroit Red Wings. The Hurricanes entered the period with a two goal lead, and exited overtime on the wrong end of a comeback. They played well for much of the game, but the end result was the same.
“They played well, and they’re not going to beat themselves,” Kirk Muller said of the Red Wings after the game. “They’re going to force you to play 60 minutes, or more than 60 minutes. A lot of good things in our game tonight. That was a great measuring stick for us. A lot of positives to take out of it, but we also have to learn from giving a point away.”
No longer is this an inter-conference matchup — the Red Wings will be directly competing against the ‘Canes for a playoff spot. And this is the type of loss that can come back to haunt a team that’s perennially on the playoff bubble. Up two goals entering the third period, these are the games that have to be closed out. To steal a baseball term, they blew the save. With two outs, no less.
“The last few minutes, that’s where we got to learn to defend and stay true to the end and get the job done. We didn’t, and that’s where we have to get better.”
‘Moral victories’ can only take you so far.
Brett Bellemore Proving He Belongs
For most of the game, the Bellemore-Ron Hainsey pairing led the way in ice-time. They were trusted in crucial situations, taking four shifts in the last three minutes and overtime. Though they were ultimately the ones on the ice for the game winning goal, it was an otherwise strong game for the unlikely duo — Bellemore especially.
He’s everything the Hurricanes had hoped Mike Komisarek would be. And that’s no disrespect to Komisarek who will find his way into the lineup eventually. In the first period alone, Bellemore put two different Red Wings on the ice, and he finished with a game-high 7 hits. Muller even went out of his way to single him out for praise after the game, calling his defense “really strong”. When Tim Gleason is healthy, it’s going to be tough to take Bellemore out of the lineup.
Conversely, Lindholm did not impress as much. He looked a step slow, even for playing most of the night on the fourth line. He finished with just 6:00 of even strength time — the lowest of any skater in the building — while winning 4 of 9 draws. The goal was always to ease Lindholm back into the lineup after he had missed most of training camp, and Traverse City, and the summer development camp with injuries, but he may need more seasoning before joining the Hurricanes full-time.
He’s not a liability, but a short trip to the AHL to get him into game speed might be in his best interests. Earlier this week, Jim Rutherford indicated that could be an option.
“There’s nothing in his contract with Brynas that suggests he has to go back to Europe,” Rutherford said Monday. “He can play for either Carolina or Charlotte.”
The Powerplay Needs Work
Though it scored, the powerplay still looked disjointed and sloppy. Jay Harrison did Jay Harrison things manning one of the points, and an inadvertent pass off Ryan Murphy sprang Pavel Datsyuk on a shorthanded break. The goal was more the result of a few lucky bounces than any diagramed play.
Muller’s options are limited, however. Hainsey didn’t appear comfortable on the point during the preseason, and Murphy is still learning the nuances of the game. Short of having two forward heavy units, Andrej Sekara might be the only other choice. During his tenure in Buffalo he got opportunities on the man advantage, but never scored more than six powerplay points in a year.