In psychology, a breaking point is a moment of stress in which a person breaks down because of a disparaging situation. In hockey, the breaking point is the moment you see your happy-go-lucky goalie freak out during a game. A breaking point is having the team’s leading scorer to go off the roster mysteriously after a rough hit. Of course, one or two downfalls can’t bring a team to a verge of collapse. The Carolina Hurricanes have faced many contributing factors this season:
- Stalled Captain: Eric Staal was MIA for about 25 games. He has a total of 7 goals and 12 assists after 31 contests.
- Weary Ward: Canes’ star goalie currently boasts an uncharacteristic 9-13-3 record and a .896 SV%. He appears to be slower going pole to pole, weak glove side, and just downright lethargic at moments. Although, no one can’t blame the guy that took 30 shots in 30 minutes this week. No surprise that Winnipeg game resulted in Ward’s personal breaking point demonstration on the bench.
- Desperately Seeking Skinner: The Rookie of the Year missed Friday’s contest against the Jets with “flu like symptoms.”
However, the Canes press release on Sunday listed him out with an “undisclosed injury.”
- Coaching Change: Carolina said farewell to Paul Maurice and brought in the charismatic Kirk Muller. A positive change, but the alteration does take a toll on team dynamics.
- TKO: Tomas Kaberle is out. Some may argue he was out since training camp, but the defenseman was officially let go this week in exchange for Habs’ Jaroslav Spacek. Jim Rutherford waited 30 games before admitting his error to the media, “I should have known better.” Time is money Jimbo and that move cost the Canes some points.
- Finn Foils: Both Joni Pitkanen and Jussi Jokinen were forced to nurse injuries early in the season.
- Back Up Boucher: Back up and veteran tendy, Brian Boucher, is no longer the second in crease command. He has missed two games due to an injury during practice.
- Misc Mishaps: Early whistles, bad bounces, silly mistakes, Jay Harrison injury, and other nuisances have contributed to this bleak moment.
It is code white in Raleigh, North Carolina. Soaring red and black hurricane flags are about to be replaced with white flags of surrender. How much more distress can the Canes endure? Is Skinner’s injury something more concerning? As the last place team in the Eastern Conference, Canes cannot afford another hit.
The team does have strengths to draw from to avoid a complete collapse.
- Michael Murphy has done a terrific job of filling in for Boucher to relief Ward in the past two games.
- Muller may not have a winning record with the Canes thus far, but he has made productive changes.
- Spacek is a veteran player who still has a drive to succeed. Random side note: He is funny and should fit in well.
- Staal has 7 points in 5 showdowns. Welcome back captain.
- Justin Faulk is proving to be a very good addition and snagged his first NHL goal on Friday.
- Before his injury, Jeff Skinner has racked 12 goals and 12 assists in 30 games. No sophomore slump for this talented player.
- Jussi Jokinen has 17 points in 28 contests. Third best on the team after Skinner and Staal.
- Chad LaRose also has 17 points, although he has played the full 31 games. We will ignore his -14 plus/minus rating for now.
- Brandon Sutter has showed serious skill in the faceoffs and his speedy breakaway goal will be a highlight of the season.
It is time to recover from the past, focus on the positive, and keep the Hurricanes’ flag high in the sky. Captain Kirk must lead his troops to safer ground. Forechecking, defense, puck possession, crease support, attitudes, and more must be conquer to retreat from the current battleground.
The boys will return home Wednesday after spending over a week up North. They will play the Canucks at the RBC Center on Thursday. In the meantime, Drayson Bowman has been recalled from Charlotte in preparation for Tuesday’s game with Toronto. Caniacs wait on baited breath to hear a Skinny status update.