The last four teams in the 2013 NHL Playoffs are dueling it out right now in the conference finals, and yet again the Carolina Hurricanes are not one of them. So what have the final four teams done that the Hurricanes can learn from?
Strong 1-2 punch at the center position – Crosby & Malkin, Kopitar & Richards, Krejci & Bergeron. Those duos have led their respective teams to the conference finals behind strong offensive and defensive play. The Hurricanes have the Staal brothers, but Jordan Staal needs to improve on his first season with the Hurricanes in the offensive department if the team wants strong depth at center.
Defensive Depth – Not only is a strong top six important, but also having players that played for the AHL team come in and play regular minutes for the team. Take Boston Bruins’ Torey Krug and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mark Eatonfor instance. Krug has had an amazing playoff
run with the Bruins, despite only playing one game in the regular season. Eaton only played in 23 regular season games, but has played in eight playoff games, usually playing over 15 minutes a game. That’s why the loss of Marc-Andre Gragnani could have a larger effect on the Hurricanes than anyone would have expected.
Unknown Heroes – Bryan Bickell has been one of the Blackhawks’ top players this post-season, which is crucial since Jonathan Toews only has one playoff goal this season. Trevor Lewis scored the game-winner for the Kings in Game Two against the San Jose Sharks with under a minute left and Krug has scored four goals for the Bruins. It’s players like these that put teams over the top and it is what the Hurricanes need either adding through free agency or players stepping up. Look to players like Patrick Dwyer and Riley Nash to be those type of forwards for the Hurricanes.