Bill Peters Shows No Mercy to Struggling Canes

With the Hurricanes focusing on the long-term success of the franchise, whether the team wins or loses any particular game for the rest of the season is a minor detail at best. Barring a miracle where the Canes win out, their playoff hopes are dead and buried. However, that does not mean Carolina players can “phone in” the effort they put forth in the game. Not if head coach Bill Peters has anything to say about it.

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
Losses to the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild aren’t a surprise at this point. Chicago’s just a deeper team than Carolina, and in that particular game, captain Jonathan Toews was particularly productive. The Wild entered Friday’s game with a 15-2-1 record in their past 18 games, so it wasn’t really a shock when they made it 16 wins in their past 19 after easily handling the Hurricanes.

But it wasn’t the fact that the team lost that led to a visibly disgusted Peters after Friday’s game. It was the effort his team showed in the game.

“We used to be this hard-working, honest group. We haven’t been the last two times out”

“It didn’t look like we wanted to put the work in to be successful. We used to be this hard-working, honest group. We haven’t been the last two times out,” said Peters.

Demanding Perfection Out of an Imperfect Team

The coach certainly isn’t wrong. Since Jordan Staal’s return in January, the team has shown a very yeoman-like work ethic. There was rarely a game where their effort level could be questioned, even if those efforts ended in a loss at the end of the night. Given how hard the team worked during the games, the losses became less and less frequent. Of the 24 games in January and February, the Canes failed to earn at least one point in only 7 of them.

March has seen the team earn zero points in the first two games, and Peters doesn’t want that trend to continue. After the loss to Chicago on Monday, the coach tried to find the positive in the loss, while still addressing the issue.

“We’ve got to get back to playing the way we were prior to tonight. Tonight’s game wasn’t very good, and we’re not happy with the way we played,” Peters said. “But if you look at it, we won three of our last four and played with a lot of pace. We’ve got to get back to playing with pace and have better execution with the puck.”

After Friday’s game, he was a lot less subtle with his criticism of the team.

“[The team] didn’t have any energy, didn’t have any jump, didn’t have any execution,” Peters said. “We looked unorganized, we looked disinterested.”

No More “Toying Around”

During the four days off between games, Peters tried a number of different line combinations in practice. When questioned about some of the line changes, Peters answered that they were just “toying around”, as he wasn’t sure when newly-acquired Jack Hillen would make his return from Washington and whether call-up Rasmus Rissanen would be making his NHL debut.

Though he did settle on a lineup before the Minnesota game, it didn’t last long. After a lackluster first period that saw the Hurricanes down 1-0 with only 5 shots on net, Peters changed the lines, putting Elias Lindholm beside the Staal brothers and Alexander Semin beside Riley Nash and Jeff Skinner.

“We couldn’t continue watching it the way it was. It wasn’t working, obviously,” Peters said.

The line changes did seem to provide a spark to the Canes, as they thoroughly controlled the play in the second. Riley Nash scored late in the period to tie the game 1-1, and Carolina held the Wild to only 4 shots in the second. However, two quick goals, the first from Mikael Granlund, the second from Zach Parise, put the Wild up 3-1 early in the third period, and took the wind out of the Hurricanes’ sails.

“I’m not sure [what changed],” said Peters. “But we’re going to have to get it figured out because we’re not going to watch this 19 more times, I know that.”

Peters said after the game that he’s not sure what changed with the team in the last two games. Before the losses to Chicago and Minnesota, the Hurricanes had won three straight over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders.

“I’m not sure [what changed],” said Peters. “But we’re going to have to get it figured out because we’re not going to watch this 19 more times, I know that.”

One thing is for sure: If the Canes continue to “phone-in” their effort, “Pastor Bill” Peters will come down on the Hurricanes with the wrath of God.