When thinking of past Stanley Cup winners, there’s always an identity that is obvious. The Chicago Blackhawks won on skill and depth, the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings on grit, even the Anaheim Ducks years ago, won on strong defensive play.
Those identities are what makes a team successful and help the players realize what they should be trying to do on the ice. The Carolina Hurricanes don’t have that.
They certainly aren’t a gritty team. The top six is a skilled bunch of players, but beyond that, the players are dime-a-dozen players that try to play a defensive game and provide some offense.
What it looks like to me is that the Hurricanes are trying to be a fast team. The additions of Nathan Gerbe, John Michael-Liles and Andrei Loktionov in the past six months should be evident of that, but whether that identity works on the ice is another problem.
When the 04-05 lockout ended, the Buffalo Sabres went with a fast identity with players like Danny Briere, Maxim Afinogenov and Tomas Vanek. While the team may have had regular-season success, things never came together in the postseason.
Obviously these are two different teams, but that speed identity that is trying to be created hasn’t provided much of anything for the Canes this season. For one, they can’t score on the powerplay and don’t score enough in transition to be a real speed team.
What the Hurricanes need is a more clear and different identity. Things haven’t worked out lately, especially these past two seasons and it’s time to change and try something else.
Ether way, if it’s Muller or Rutherford’s fault, this lack of identity will set up for even more uncertainty this summer for the Carolina Hurricanes.