Last night capped off a difficult four-game stretch for the Carolina Hurricanes. After a long streak of success, the team has lost four straight and are just two points ahead of the New Jersey Devils for the Metro Division lead.
It is surely not a time for panic in Raleigh, but things will need to be cleaned up to remain atop the division.
The last four games cannot be pinned on one player or one position specifically, but one trend has been poor defensive performances.
Defense is a huge responsibility under Rod Brind’Amour’s teams, and that awareness is the building block of the Canes recent success.
Dylan Coghlan entered the lineup last night and was on the ice for 2 of the Devils’ 5 goals.
Although Coghlan was not the sole reason for the loss, it is difficult to ignore his struggles when called upon to play.
Coghlan played a total of 17 shifts, which is around his normal load this season, and was on the ice for 11:39. The first-year Hurricane registered 1 shot, 2 hits, and a blocked shot with a -2.
Don Waddell identified a lack of defensive depth when making the acquisition of Coghlan. He has a strong shot and gets pucks to the net.
However, the lack of speed and agility on the defensive side has caused a question mark on if the offensive upside is worth the risk defensively.
In his third season in the NHL, the 24-year-old had some success with the Las Vegas Golden Knights in a minimal role the last two seasons.
As an affordable depth piece, Coghlan can provide that for this organization.
But to consider this player to be in the rotation for the bottom pairing seems far-fetched to this point in the season.
With the combination of poor play and lack of playing time, a longer stint with the Chicago Wolves may be what is best for the player.
The Wolves could use his offense from the blue line and the Hurricanes can stick with Calvin De Haan and Jalen Chatfield.
It would be more beneficial to see a player like Max Lajoie or even William Lagesson get a look with the big club before the trade deadline is upon us.
This team has Stanley Cup aspirations and will need consistent, productive play from the bottom pairing in the playoffs. Playoff hockey is different from the regular season and is a grind every shift.
The Hurricanes cannot afford to have 15-17 defensive shifts lead to the puck in the back of their net.
Let Coghlan build some confidence in the AHL and work on the things that the coaching staff has advised, while the Hurricanes let these minimal opportunities go to players that have earned them with solid seasons in Chicago.
Injuries will certainly determine the amount of playing time available on defense, but questions need to be answered for Waddell before entering a crucial trade deadline.