Carolina Hurricanes: How to get their season back on track


The Carolina Hurricanes suffered a rare 2019 defeat yesterday, going down 3-2 on the road against the New Jersey Devils. They need to get back in the saddle quickly, and finish off their road trip with a win against the Ottawa Senators.

That didn’t go according to plan. The Carolina Hurricanes were meant to secure another win and move ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the standings. We were going to make the New Jersey Devils pay for the late 2018 defeat the Canes suffered. And yet, an atrocious first period was the team’s undoing, as well as some dodgy refereeing decisions.

But how can the Canes get back on track? Here’s three things they need to do immediately. Besides celebrate Sebastian Aho‘s 100th career assist, even if he’s not fussed at all:

1. Put Dougie Hamilton on the first power play unit

We’ve spoken before about how to fix the powerplay for the Carolina Hurricanes – and we really, really, REALLY – seriously, really – need to get Dougie Hamilton onto the first power play unit. Most Canes fans love Justin Faulk, but there’s no question that the wrong guy is quarterbacking the team’s primary unit. Hamilton scored his 10th goal of the season in yesterday’s game, and continues to struggle to secure that cushy number with Seabass, Turbo and the other guys. Surely putting your best point shooter on PP1 is a given?

Someone, please grab Rod Brind’Amour in the street and shake his head for him. This is such a simple decision, with clear benefits, and it’s astonishing that we’re sitting here nearly 6 months into Hamilton’s time in Raleigh still asking for him to be put in a position to succeed.

2. Give the second line a better center

We’re big fans of Lucas Wallmark – but he’s been very quiet in recent weeks, and we’re at the business end of the season. We need everyone contributing, and that second line needs more help. Two assists in eight games is a poor return for a team fighting for every points in the standings.

While not a natural center, would Jordan Martinook be a better option? What about moving Teuvo Teravainen to center and promoting Andrei Svechnikov to the second line? Or, going totally renegade, calling up Martin Necas from Charlotte?

There are several options for Rod Brind’Amour – but persisting with Wallmark at 2C isn’t sensible with so many key games coming up.

3. Decide which goalie they’re going with

The Carolina Hurricanes have had such bad goaltending for so many years, they now don’t know how to handle two good goaltenders at the same time. Petr Mrazek‘s performances tend to be flashier, and more obviously important, but Curtis McElhinney‘s numbers are significantly better than Mrazek’s.

It can’t help the team in front of them having a different goalie each game. You want to know who’s behind you, as each goaltender has different foibles – do I block this shot? Should I close down this angle, or that angle? With the never-ending goalie carousel, that split-second decision is taking longer for Canes defensemen, and Rod Brind’Amour needs to choose his guy and ride him like a two-bit pony down the stretch.

The question is: which goalie do you choose? Is Petr Mrazek your number one goalie now? It’s a tough decision, but one that really has to be made.

Next. Should the Canes trade their UFAs?. dark

No team can win every game in an 82-game NHL season – but that doesn’t make yesterday’s reverse any less painful. The Carolina Hurricanes had a golden chance to push into a playoff spot, and came up short thanks to a combination of a horrible first period and disappointing refereeing. If they can focus on their game, channel their anger and continue to play as they have done for most of 2019, we’ll be talking about their playoff chances again after they beat the Senators. If not? Perhaps fans talk about moving Micheal Ferland ahead of the deadline after all.