Game Analysis: Hurricanes Stay Winless With Two Losses In Alberta

The Carolina Hurricanes are slowly returning to health, but that hasn’t made a difference on the scoreboard. The Canes were blanked in Calgary Thursday, 5-0, then the Oilers pulled away in the third period Friday for a 6-3 win, dropping Carolina to 0-5-2 on the season.

Three Observations

1. Swedish forwards Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask have struggled to put up points through seven games. The duo has combined for just one assist this season despite each averaging nearly 17 minutes a night and an identical 2:25 of power play time per game. For Lindholm, it’s a bump in the road for a player that is penciled in as part of Carolina’s future. But Rask — who had such a fantastic September — needs to make an impression if he wants to avoid a demotion back to Charlotte as the Hurricanes get players back from injury.

2. In a bit of good news, Jeff Skinner seems no worse for wear in returning from another concussion. While Skinner hasn’t been dominant, he seemed OK taking a couple hard hits and even scored his first goal of the year vs. Edmonton, overpowering Martin Marincin and depositing a perfect shot past Ben Scrivens.

3. Outside of Andrej Sekera, it’s hard to say who belongs in the lineup on Carolina’s blue line on any given night. Ryan Murphy has been shuttled in and out but is probably worthy of being in each night. Justin Faulk won’t sit just based on how he is capable of playing, but he continues to be shaky. Ron Hainsey has had his footspeed exposed a couple times, while Jay Harrison brought some good (a goal and an assist) with some bad (penalty and a blown coverage) against the Oilers. John-Michael Liles is an offensive specialist who is yet to contribute much on the scoresheet, while Brett Bellemore and Tim Gleason seem to fill the same role and do so averagely, at best. Coach Bill Peters will probably be best served by playing his young players often and seeing if there’s a future for them in his system.

Number To Know

27 — Penalty minutes for Harrison this season, the most in the NHL heading in to Sunday’s games. Harrison has the league-leading amount despite playing just six games so far. He has six minors, one major penalty and a misconduct, and has been in the box in every game he’s played but one (vs. Buffalo). He had just 44 PIMs in 68 games last season and his career high is 72 (in 72 games in 2010-11).

Plus

Jay McClement — No Hurricanes player has had more prime scoring chances this season than McClement. Unfortunately, his hands don’t seem to keep up with his ability to make the smart play and be in the right place at the right time. All that being said, McClement has lived up to his billing even though he has been forced to play more than originally intended due to injuries down the middle. If Eric Staal can return to the lineup Tuesday, McClement should be on the fourth line where he belongs and make the Hurricanes more stable at center.

Minus

Anton Khudobin — The chance to win was there for Khudobin Saturday, but he struggled to close the door on the Oilers and dropped to 0-3-1 on the season. Carolina’s issues go well beyond goaltending, but they absolutely need their goalies to make the important saves. Right now neither are, and if Khudobin wants to prove he’s a No. 1 goalie the pressure is on him to show it.

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