November 12, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters (35) is congratulated by teammate forward Eric Staal (12) after defeating the Colorado Avalanche at PNC Center. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Colorado Avalanche 2-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Hurricanes

Sometimes in hockey, you can be the superior team for most of the game and still walk away with a loss. Such is life for the Colorado Avalanche this morning.

The Avalanche controlled the tempo and brought most of the pressure for most of the second and third periods, but they couldn’t do enough to pick up the win in Carolina, a place they haven’t won in since 2008.

The ‘Canes got just enough offense to eek it out – the line of Patrick Dwyer, Nathan Gerbe and Jordan Staal was the only consistent force for Carolina – and help keep themselves afloat as guys start to return from injury.

That being said, let’s see what we learned from Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss.

Peters Does It Again

There can’t be enough said about the play of Justin Peters, both last night and in the last few games he’s started. He wasn’t even expected to be in the Hurricanes lineup this season, but injuries to Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin pressed him into action and he’s responded in a big way.

He stood on his head last night as the Avalanche pressed the whole game, stopping 33 of 34 shots. He’s 3-0-1 in his last four games and has posted a 2.34 goals against average and .922 save percentage in the nine game since he’s stepped in.

As I said earlier, sometimes teams will outplay their opponent and still walk away with a loss. That’s what happens when you run into a hot goaltender and Peters is just that. It’s looking like Ward will be back by the weekend, but it’ll be interesting to see what the team does when Khudobin returns. I understand the pecking order, but a hot goalie is a hot goalie and the Hurricanes will have some interesting choices to make later on in the season.

Sloppy Defense

That happens, too. Especially when your defense is an overachieving group pieced together by journeymen, traditionally average defensemen, and young guys.

The Avalanche defense has been up to the task so far this season and you can see the effects the new coaching staff is having on their performance compared to last season. That being said, this still isn’t the most talented bunch and when they make mistakes, they can be killer.

Sloppy passes, eyes watching the puck instead of keeping track of their assignments – those are the things inexperienced, sloppy defenses do. It hasn’t been a persistent problem this season, so panic is unwarranted, but it has been an issue that’s popped up more than once.

If the defense is sloppy, things get dicey.

Why Not Us?

November 12, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny (26) is congratulated by teammates after his 2nd period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Center. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t want to be that guy, but let me be that guy for a minute. The Avalanche are rightfully 14-3-0. They have played wonderfully, getting great goaltending, above average defensive play, and are getting scoring from three lines.

That said, the Avalanche have clearly looked a tad worse against the good teams they’ve faced. I understand that no team is going to steamroll everybody, but the opener against Anaheim aside, they stole wins from Boston and Pittsburgh because of goaltending, lost to Detroit and eeked out a win over Toronto on the road. They handled a pretty good Montreal team, but other than that, they’ve had a relatively easy schedule. Nashville twice. Dallas twice. Buffalo, Calgary, Winnipeg.

The schedule is about to get a lot tougher, starting Thursday night with a visit to St.Louis. If the Avalanche want more people buying into the whole “why not us?” mantra, they need to start beating good teams. Start Thursday.

Next up: 11/14 @ St.Louis 

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Carolina Hurricanes Colorado Avalanche Jordan Staal Justin Peters NHL Semyon Varlamov

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