RALEIGH, N.C. – Alright, can we all come back down from the high, or the buzz, many have had with the arrival and energy surge that Carolina Hurricanes emergency call-up Greg McKegg has provided?
The emotional roller coaster that he’s been on hit rock bottom last night as Carolina eventually ended a five-game winning streak, its longest since November 2016, falling 3-1 to the NHL’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
The seventh-year pro got his shot to debut with the Hurricanes and made an impression a week ago leading the team with a goal and an assist as part of a 4-2 win over Columbus.
Social media was ablaze with reference to his last name providing reference to the obvious jubilation of celebrating the win during and after with copious amounts of beer.
Many went on a ‘McKegger’.
It was all great and worthy of such attention amidst what eventually was another win of five total that would provide renewed hope once more that Carolina was worthy and capable of contending for wildcard playoff spot.
At the midpoint of the season, a 5-4 road win over the Ottawa Senators, game No. 41 put the Hurricanes at 19-17-5 and eight points out of a wildcard spot.
Not necessarily very close, but close enough to keep moods positive, particularly as the team was piling up wins and confidence.
However, if those who believed that McKegg, or any past, present, or future call-up from Charlotte would carry the load for this team into the postseason, said individuals have not sobered up just yet.
— Peter Koutroumpis (@pksport) January 11, 2019
Such expectations are unfair to place on McKegg and others who’ve simply done their jobs providing 100% effort to keep the Hurricanes’ defensive play stabilized.
If that included a goal or an assist at the other end, then that would add bonus value to the effort.
We’ve cashed in on that.
Secondary scoring, even if it comes deep from the roster, is always welcome.
But to expect in on a regular basis from just a handful of games played is unrealistic.
That goes the same for rookie Andrei Svechnikov who has progressed steadily in his play at both ends of the ice while learning to be an NHL pro.
Whether its Svechnikov or McKegg, the key reason to not place pressure on them to score is due to the fact that their lack of NHL experience can result in making mistakes.
They both illustrated that point when each took undisciplined penalties during the third period against Tampa Bay that resulted in the tying and eventual game-winning goals against.
The desire to do good, or too much, and not keeping an even keel at critical points in the game caught up with them.
You don’t take hooking or slashing penalties otherwise.
Anyone who places entire blame for that loss on them is not looking at the big picture.
Now that the Hurricanes’ win streak is over, let’s look at the glaring problem that still exists after this exhilarating 5-1 stretch.
While outscoring opponents 22-18, Carolina’s top-five scorers have contributed just nine goals – four from captain Justin Williams, two from Teuvo Teravainen, and one each from Sebastian Aho, Micheal Ferland, and Svechnikov.
With defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, and Justin Faulk adding six combined, the remaining third of scoring has come from depth scoring like McKegg’s two goals in four games.
Collectively this looks good, so what’s the criticism about?
We’re all having a good time, we’re in it, and we’re having fun – stop screaming at clouds.
Yeah, you’re right.
So lets hope that in the Hurricanes’ upcoming Friday night tilt against the Buffalo Sabres (by the way led by former Hurricanes scoring leader Jeff Skinner) that Aho, Teravainen, and Ferland among others end their current three-game plus scoring droughts.
They’ve taken their breathers and it’s time for them to lead and generate another win streak.
McKegg and Svechnikov will be there to support the effort.
They’ve done what’s been expected of them.
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport