Here are five observations from the Carolina Hurricanes’ 4-1 road loss Tuesday to the Philadelphia Flyers:
1. Canes need more ugly goals
Forget “cute.” Think “grind.” That’s the message Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour sent out after the loss. The Canes, he said, were playing well Tuesday but added, “I’ll be blunt. We’ve changed our group this year a little bit and we’re talented but that doesn’t win if you don’t get to the net, be first and grind out the goals first -- that mentality.”
The Canes’ goal had some artistry to it, Martin Necas using his speed to get to the puck in the offensive zone, making a nice cross-ice pass to Trevor van Riemsdyk, who set up Lucas Wallmark for the score. But as Brind’Amour said, the Canes need more ugly ones.
Added Wallmark: “We need to play our game and it’s not fancy every time and I think first of all we need to shoot more.”
2. Numbers don’t decide the game
Those looking only at the analytics of the game probably would have thought the Canes came away with the win. The Canes had more scoring chances (21-18) and high-danger chances (12-7), according to the Natural Stat Trick analytics site. They had the better of the Corsi and Fenwick stats, with 61 total shot attempts to the Flyers’ 43.
But statistics lie and the numbers don’t decide the game. Flyers goalie Carter Hart, up and down this season, was up Tuesday, stopping 33 of 34 shots. Canes goalie Petr Mrazek allowed four goals on 28 shots -- three on 13 shots in the third period.
3. Missing Erik Haula
The Canes aren’t the same team without center Erik Haula in the lineup and his availability -- in practices and games -- moving forward is an immediate concern.
Brind’Amour said Wednesday that Haula, who underwent major surgery on his right knee last season, was experiencing some issues with the knee and his status is “day to day.” Brind’Amour said there was no structural damage to the knee that would require further surgery but that he did not know when Haula, who leads the Canes this season with eight goals, could return.
4. Canes still developing as a road team
A big part of the Canes becoming a playoff team last season was winning on the road, finishing 22-16-3 in the 41 games. It helped having that wise old head, Justin Williams, in the lineup and in the room, and the Canes became a very tough out.
The Canes are 3-3-1 on the road through the first seven games this season and don’t have Williams. But also to remember: they were 3-3-1 after the first seven a year ago and developed into a strong road team.
5. More ice time, less production
Dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen resulted in center Sebastian Aho getting 22:21 of ice time and winger Teuvo Teravainen getting 22:04. Brind’Amour had two of his best players on the ice more but the production wasn’t there, only 22 minutes of wear and tear.
Forward Jordan Martinook, who has missed the past 11 games with a core muscle injury, has been skating and might be able to rejoin practice soon. The Canes need that extra forward and more specifically need Martinook.
For now, Eetu Luostarinen will get a look. The Finnish forward, signed to an entry-level contract in May, was recalled Wednesday from the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL and should make his NHL debut Thursday against the New York Rangers.