September 18, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Alexander Semin (28) is congratulated by teammates center Eric Staal (12) and left wing Drayson Bowman (21) after his 2nd period goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PNC Center. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes: Special Teams Preview

It was a problem for the team last year. Special teams could not get the job done, whether it was the penalty kill or the power-play.

This year, the special teams groups will have to improve if the Carolina Hurricanes want to make the postseason.

Here are improvements and shortcoming for the upcoming season for both groups.

Power-Play

Unit 1

Jiri Tlusty – Eric StaalAlexander Semin

Justin FaulkRyan Murphy

The first line will stick together as the forwards on the first power-play unit. The line had plenty of success last season at even strength and on the man advantage, so this shouldn’t be a problem for the Canes.

Murphy will play the point in his rookie season for the team and that is exactly where he belongs. His specialty is offense and should bring another dimension to the attack.

Murphy will improve the first unit as an upgrade over Joe Corvo. However, losing Joni Pitkanen does hurt.

Unit 2

Jeff SkinnerJordan StaalNathan Gerbe

Andrej SekeraJay Harrison

Not a bad second forward line. Gerbe is the question mark, but did have a strong preseason. If he can continue that level of play in the regular season this could be a dangerous second unit. If Skinner improves this line will only play better. It’s possible Tuomo Ruutu takes Gerbe’s spot when he returns from injury.

The point is a little shaky. Sekera played on the power-play in Buffalo, but isn’t a great offensive defenseman. Harrison has a big shot, but his transition game isn’t perfect.

This unit will have to depend on Gerbe and Sekera being dangerous offensively if it wants success over the course of a season.

Penalty Kill

Forwards:

E. Staal – Semin

J. Staal – Patrick Dwyer

Brett SutterDrayson Bowman

Elias Lindholm – Ruutu

Since there is a good deal of shifting in the forwards’ ranks on penalty kills, I’ve listed who should kill penalties for the Hurricanes.

E. Staal and Semin will provide a bit of offensive pushback that led to some goals last season. J. Staal, Dwyer and Bowman are all veteran defensive forwards that will bring stability.

Sutter and Lindholm are question marks as new comers, but should do fine. Until Ruutu returns, Lindholm may just swap in places for other forwards.

It’s likely the unit has improved since last season and has added depth. Key losses are Tim Brent and Chad LaRose, but Lindholm and Sutter should make up for their absences.

Defense

Faulk – Ron Hainsey

Sekera – Mike Komisarek/Brett Bellemore

Harrison

The Canes are lucky in that they have a number of defensemen that can play the penalty kill. Faulk, Hainsey and Sekera are all mobile defensive defensemen that should really help out the kill.

Komisarek has always been a huge shot-blocker, while Harrison should bring a gritty style to the penalty kill. Depending on who plays, Bellemore should also see some time.

The loss of Tim Gleason will hurt the penalty kill, but there is enough depth to make up for him.

The Hurricanes didn’t really lose anybody that played the penalty kill last season, besides the injured Gleason and Pitkanen, so this unit has definitely improved.

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Jim Rutherford did a lot to improve the special teams. The two groups should be better than last year in terms of depth and skill and it should help the team move up the standings over the course of the season.

 

Tags: Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal Justin Faulk Tuomo Ruutu

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