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.
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.
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.
E. Staal – Semin
J. Staal – Patrick Dwyer
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.
Faulk – Ron Hainsey
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.
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.