Red alert: Hurricanes scoring still a concern even after two games

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes are winless following their first two games of the 2015-2016 National Hockey League (NHL) season.

They’re looking to earn that first win against Florida when they host the Panthers at PNC Arena on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow’s game’s gonna be the most important game of the year,” Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said following practice on Monday.

“Then we play Friday, and that’s the most important game of the year. They’re all important. We want to play well. We want to play for 60 minutes and we should be able to do that tomorrow.”

As Carolina’s third opponent of the season, the Panthers (1-1) will be following up on a grinding 1-0 loss they suffered in Philadelphia on Monday.

Florida opened the season with a dominating 7-1 win over that same Flyers team on Saturday.

In that game, the Panthers scored four goals in the opening 6:46 of the first period – the fastest four goals to start a season in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44).

Though kept scoreless in the front end of a back-to-back set that ends in Raleigh, going 0-for-6 on the power play, Florida has shown it can score early.

Only a full defensive effort will hold them back, similar to what the Flyers threw at them.

“They’re deep – very good in transition,” Peters said of the Panthers.

“They’re a young team with a lot of skill.”

With Eddie Lack starting in goal for his first game of the season, Carolina will work to keep the Panthers off the board as much as possible.

However, that will only last so long, and then the concern will be in what the Hurricanes will do at the other end.

The Panthers won the three-game series between the two teams in 2014-15, including shutting the Hurricanes out twice.

Carolina is 1-for-9 on the power play so far, an area that they must capitalize on against Florida.

The Hurricanes outshot the Red Wings 47-19 and produced three goals in a 4-3 loss on Saturday.

The third goal, their first power play marker of the season, came with less than three seconds to play and after the game was out of reach.

Some will say that is acceptable and something positive to consider.

Sure, it can be after two games.

However, with the number and quality of scoring chances they had against the Red Wings, Carolina should have been able to convert on a lot more of them.

Close and almost can no longer be acceptable words to hear from this team.

It seems the same mathematical situation exists to explain this Hurricanes team.

They’ve scored four goals and had six scored against – averaging two goals for and three against.

For argument’s sake, assume three goals against will result against a Florida team with the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau leading the offense – traditionally the prime offensive threats against Carolina.

The conundrum then returns to whether the Hurricanes have the offensive capabilities to score three or more goals to tie and potentially win the game.

It’s Canes math and the same simple equation and computation that has shown how this team struggles to beat its opponents on a nightly basis from year to year.

The Hurricanes had their chances against Detroit, but couldn’t capitalize on them.

Quality didn’t result out of quantity.

Peters hopes the forward combinations he puts out against Florida will finally start to click, led by the top line of captain Eric Staal and Kris Versteeg centered by Victor Rask.

“I like our lines,” Peters said.

“I like the way we played the other night. These lines give us a real good chance to be successful tomorrow. They’ll generate some offense – they’ll get their looks.”

“It’ll come,” the coach concluded.

“There’s a lot of good things and we’ll keep ‘em goin’ and get better offensively as we go.”

At least, that’s the hope anyway.

Notes: Peters updated local media on the status of centers Rask and Riley Nash on Monday. Peters indicated that Victor Rask “felt good” after leaving the game late against Detroit. Peters indicated that Nash was out with a shoulder injury for 10-14 days.