It has been a rough start for the Carolina Hurricanes this season, and the play of center Jordan Staal has not helped.
The Carolina Hurricanes have been plagued by offensive struggles just 8 games into the 2015-2016 regular season.
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The club is 2-6-0, and they occupy the 7th place spot in the Metropolitan Division, in front of just the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Carolina has the 27th ranked offense in the league, tallying just 1.8 goals per game, and one glaring issue that needs to be fixed is the play of their $6 million center Jordan Staal.
Through 8 games, Staal has yet to tally a single point for the Carolina Hurricanes, despite getting 16:14 of ice time per game. He is the only player on the team to play in all 8 games and not register a point.
Since joining the Hurricanes back in June of 2011, Jordan Staal has not been an offensive dynamo. In fact, the most point he’s ever recorded in a season with the Canes came back in 2013-2014, in which he tallied 40 points in 82 games.
Staal is over 4 seasons removed from his career-high 50 point year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so it may be time to just accept that he is no longer going to be a 45+ point scorer, at least not on a consistent basis, but his production so far this season is nothing short of unacceptable.
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There have been things going against him early on. He has been playing far fewer minutes compared to recent years, and that has been largely due to his lack of powerplay usage and Bill Peters’ tendency to role all four lines evenly at 5-on-5 hockey, meaning the only extra ice time Staal has gotten has been on the penalty kill.
Staal has seen 16:14 of ice time per game in the opening 8 games. That is over 2 minutes less than he’s gotten over the past two seasons and is on track to be the 2nd lowest of his career, in front of just the 14:56 he averaged as a rookie. But even that year, he netted 29 goals and had 42 points, so I don’t buy the lack of ice time as an excuse for his unbelievable lack of offense so far this season.
He also hasn’t given the coaching staff any reason to give him more time based on his performance.
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Another potential scape goat for Jordan Staal’s horrid offensive start is his linemates. Nathan Gerbe has been on Jordan’s wing since game one, and he isn’t necessarily an elite offensive player. However, Gerbe played a lot of time on Staal’s wing during the second half of last year and the year before, and he still put up a pair of 28+ point seasons, and he has 2 points this season.
So, again, I’m not buying the linemate factor for Staal’s failures this season, although Gerbe is certainly slotted way too high in the Canes lineup due to lack of talent.
The quality of opponents that Jordan Staal plays against can not be debated. He goes against every team’s best players night in and night out, but this is nothing new for him.
Ever since his Pittsburgh days, he has been put up against high quality opponents, and up until now that hasn’t been a big issue in regards to his offensive production.
There just has to come a point where we stop looking at the third party influences and focus directly on the problem, and the problem is Jordan Staal. It is not his ice time, it is not how he is being used, and it is not his linemates; it is Jordan Staal.
It is on him to turn this little slump around. Going 8 games without a point is unacceptable, and he is fully aware of how his play isn’t helping this team win, as he said after a game against the Florida Panthers on October 13.
“Hopefully myself and a few other guys can start playing better and start showing the young guys how the Hurricanes want to play hockey.” Jordan Staal said following the loss to Florida. “Tonight wasn’t it. Hopefully I , myself, can be better.”
Since he said that two weeks ago, he hasn’t been better. Don’t believe it? Take a look at his numbers; they don’t paint a pretty picture.
The Carolina Hurricanes are nearing the end of their season-long seven game road trip, and following Thursday’s game against the Islanders, they will play nine of their next ten games on home ice. It is imperative that the Carolina Hurricanes find their offense during this stretch. If they don’t, they will likely be bottom dwellers for the remainder of the season.
At the end of the day, Jordan Staal’s defensive acumen alone will not make him worth his $6 million price tag. He needs to turn things around very soon, or he may be a victim to trade speculation in the coming months, just like his brother.