After an abysmal week at the office, the Carolina Hurricanes have fallen off the rails. Here’s how they can get back on track.
There was so much optimism in Carolina before this past week. The Hurricanes were cruising through their home stand and had four straight wins under their belt. Even with stern competition upcoming, there was real hope the Canes could the fight on and jump into a playoff spot. That was nice while it lasted.
This past week was dreadful for Carolina. The Canes managed to score only 4 goals in 3 games and gave up an incredibly uncharacteristic 14 goals. There was very few positives from this past week other that the week is behind us. The team must forget what happened and move forward.
With that being said, it doesn’t get much easier. They play the red hot Capitals in Washington today, then host both the Kings and Flyers. These are very key games in regards to the Eastern Conference playoff race. If the Hurricanes hope to steady themselves, here’s how they can do it in these next few games.
Skinner and Rask Reemerge
Before this past week, it seemed as though a different forward line would step up in the absence of Skinner and Rask. That didn’t happen this week and the Canes paid the price for it. Without proper depth in scoring, the Hurricanes need to rely on Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask for offense.
For the first third of the season, both were extremely productive and put up points most nights. Ever since December however, the two have been more inconsistent. They have scored a lot in short bursts and been quiet in between those bursts. That type of output isn’t sustainable as this past week showed. Both Skinner and Rask are pointless in the last 4 games.
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In order to jump start the Canes two leading scorers, it might be time to shuffle the top line again. Maybe instead of Derek Ryan, put Lee Stempniak back up top. Another option is moving Elias Lindholm to Rask’s wing. The Swede is finally coming around this season and has had chemistry with Skinner and Rask in the past.
Clean Up the Sloppy Defense
Bill Peters must have held his head in his hands after watching some of the tape from this past week. It has been a while since the Canes played so poorly as a defensive unit. It started to show in Columbus on Tuesday, but once Alex Nedeljkovic came in, the club settled down and played better.
Against Pittsburgh however, it was just embarrassing at times. On one goal after another, the Canes defense was caught sleeping and out of position. It was cleaned up to a degree in Columbus on Saturday, but all 3 goals conceded were simply too sloppy and slow, at least by Carolina’s recent standards.
What They’re Good At
To correct the numerous defense mistakes Carolina made this past week, they must return to their brand of hockey. Too often last week, the Canes let their opposition dictate the speed of the game. This was especially the case at home against Pittsburgh. Just look at the possession stats from our writer Matt Barlowe’s game review.
The Canes must return to their puck possession style. Using their quickness and great zone entries, Carolina usually determines the course of the game. That must be present in order for the Canes to win. The team isn’t naturally talented enough to snare goals against the run of play on a consistent basis. It’s up to the all players on the ice to buy back into Bill Peters’ methodology and get back to playing Canes hockey.