Carolina Hurricanes: Season Report card – Rod Brind’Amour

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 9: Head Coach Rod Brind'Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes watches action on the ice from the bench during an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks October 9, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 9: Head Coach Rod Brind'Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes watches action on the ice from the bench during an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks October 9, 2018 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes are now exactly halfway through their 2018/19 season, and are riding an exciting four-game win streak as they look to challenge for a playoff spot. This week we’ll be looking at how each part of the team is performing – starting with the coach, Rod Brind’Amour.

Rod Brind’Amour was appointed as the Head Coach of the Carolina Hurricanes on 8 May 2018. It is easy to forget that he is a rookie coach, after an illustrious playing career and seven years on the coaching staff – but he remains a rookie coach, and there have been times this season where Canes fans have been somewhat unforgiving of that fact.

After 41 games, Brind’Amour’s Canes sport a 19-17-5 record, and sit seven points out of a wildcard spot with a game in hand. The season stands on a knife edge – a few more wins and the race for the playoffs is well and truly on, but a few losses and the season is as good as over. It is this month, with games against the Islanders, Sabres, Rangers in particular, that will define Brind’Amour’s first campaign as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

So, how is Coach Rod doing so far?

Rookie nerves? What rookie nerves?

After waiting for so many years for the opportunity to coach in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes looked to have a tough start to the season lined up. The first three games were against Metro Division opponents, and it could have been a challenging start for the rookie coach. But those fears were allayed as the Canes came out of the starting blocks on fire, winning four of their first five games and securing nine points from a possible ten.

The 8-5 thrashing of the New York Rangers on 7 October will remain one of the highlights of Brind’Amour’s coaching career, no matter how long he coaches. All but five Canes registered points, and the Carolina Hurricanes looked like they would score with every touch of the puck in the offensive zone. It was a masterclass of attacking hockey that fans hoped would see a new approach from the team.

Mid-season crunch

A fall from grace was inevitable, but our Carolina Hurricanes never do things by halves. After that strong start to the season, the Canes won just two of their next ten games, scoring just 18 goals in the process. Fans were beginning to sound the alarm at this point, but despite Coach Rod saying the same phrases on repeat throughout that bad spell, the Canes turned things around.

Since losing five in a row in November, the Canes have gone 13-10-2; the main concern in the team’s mid-season crunch was the lack of scoring, as the team scored just five goals in five games at the end of November and generally appeared to be non-threatening in consistently out-shooting opposition, yet still losing.

We also had THAT shootout drama, where the Canes threw away a point against the Washington Capitals in regulation, then saw Coach Rod neglect to draw on the skills of Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen or Andrei Svechnikov and seeing the Canes lose in a shootout.

Recent streak & changes

After an enjoyable 3-0 win over Arizona on December 16, the Canes lost the next two before ending on a high with a 5-3 win over Boston on Whalers night. While the Canes lost their first two after Christmas – scoring just one goal in the process – they have now won four on the bounce, for the first time since that first week of the season.

What’s more, Rod Brind’Amour is seeing goals from his power play; a point from Victor Rask; continued production from Aho and Teravainen; and, interestingly, goals in three straight from Dougie Hamilton. 17 goals in four games has been a welcome tonic for the team’s anaemic offense, and has helped disguise the fact that Svechnikov has just one point in his last eight games.

The power play looks far more threatening in recent games, and the penalty kill is so hot, it’s even scoring shorthanded goals. While trade talk intensifies round Hamilton and Micheal Ferland, Coach Rod needs to focus on keeping this excellent run of form going. Two wins from the next three, and four from the next six, would keep this team in the mix for a wildcard spot.

Rating: B-

After everything Rod Brind’Amour has been through in his debut season, and considering the limited resources he has at his disposal, I am giving Rod a solid B-. The team is doing better than I thought it would, and he’s starting to make subtle changes to improve matters. It helps that call-ups from Charlotte are playing hard, but all the signs are there that Brind’Amour is figuring things out behind the bench.

Next. What value does Dougie Hamilton have?. dark

Tomorrow we will look at how the goaltending for the Carolina Hurricanes has performed; in the meantime, let us know below what you think of Rod Brind’Amour’s rookie coaching season and what mark you would give him at the halfway point of his debut season.