At the start of the season, Jeff Skinner emerged as the Carolina Hurricanes’ forward to rely on. He was scoring at a pace of his rookie season and bounced back from a down 2013 season, but things have changed in the past month.
In the last 13 games, the Canadian forward only has two goals. In other stretches, he’s had as many as eight in seven games, so what’s been up with Skinner lately?
When Skinner was really on a tear it was when he was playing with Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu on the first line, but when the line dried up, coach Kirk Muller reformed last year’s top line and moved Skinner to the third line.
Now Skinner is playing with Manny Malhotra and Elias Lindholm, and while Skinner reportedly enjoys playing with Lindholm, it’s not a line that will produce many scoring chances.
Unfortunately that’s the case with Malhotra as the third-line center and presents another reason why GM Jim Rutherford and the Canes should be looking for an improvement at center on that line.
The lack of scoring on the powerplay has also hurt Skinner as the 21-year-old’s skills should be a perfect compliment to a man advantage, but scoring has just not come for the Hurricanes on the powerplay.
But some of the blame also has to be placed on Skinner. The Hurricanes expect him – as a premier offensive forward – to create chances while he’s on the ice and score with the wicked wrist shot he has.
However, I believe the main problem for Skinner is just gelling with his center. He had scoring problems with Eric Staal in the past and the same with Jordan Staal.
As the trade deadline gets closer, I think it’s important for Rutherford to find a center that will compliment Jeff Skinner well, but it’s also important for Skinner to work with whoever is his center to create that offense he showed at the beginning of the season.