This year's Hurricanes team usually needs a few things to happen in order for them to win. They're usually in good shape if they can get good production out of both of their top-two lines, whether that comes in form of goals & points or territorial domination depends on the night. If that doesn't happen, they might be able to squeak by if they get a lucky goal or two from their depth players and/or their defense. Should neither of these occur, then it's basically up to their goaltending to steal them a game and they've had to resort to this quite a few times this year. One of those games being last night's 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
Despite having the lead for about 2/3 of the game, the Hurricanes were grossly outplayed by the Rangers and the only thing keeping them ahead was a valiant performance by goaltender Anton Khudobin. The newly signed goaltender carried the Hurricanes through the first two periods before finally breaking down in the third and allowing three goals. It's hard to put all the blame on him, though because the team in front of him didn't play a good game at all and he was the only thing keeping this from being a blowout. It would have been nice for Khudobin to steal this one and keep the Hurricanes slim playoff hopes alive, but it just wasn't going to happen and it was a stark reminder of how bad this team's depth is.
The Rangers might be struggling to score goals, but they boast some very good forward depth and it only got better with the addition of Martin St. Louis. All three players on their "third line" of Mats Zuccarello, Deick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot have higher scoring rates than most of the Hurricanes top-six forwards and their entire team is capable of driving the play at even strength. Compare that to the Hurricanes, who have basically one scoring line and two lines capable of driving play and it's easy to see why one of these teams is in a good position to make the playoffs while another is likely heading for another long summer.
Fans are going to blame this one on work ethic and intangibles, but the reality is that the Rangers are a much better team than the Hurricanes and played up to that level on Friday night. Yes, the Sharks are a better team than the Hurricanes, too but the difference in that game was Khudobin in the third period. That and the Canes first line performed much worse than they did on Tuesday in San Jose. This along with more terrible special teams factored into another loss and one of the final nails in the coffin of the Hurricanes season.no comments