The Carolina Hurricanes are the only team in the NHL that has failed to win a game this season. The team is coming off back-to-back games against the Calgary Flames, and the Edmonton Oilers. Both are games that fans thought the ‘Canes could win. In those two games the team was outscored 11-3. It is hard to pin point one thing that the team needs to do better. In all honesty, they need help everywhere. So far they are ranked 27th in the league in goals-per-game, and 29th in goals-against. They need a spark. They need to find some momentum. They need a lot, but it is not time for the team to lay down and die.
“Defense wins championships” is one of the oldest clichés in the world of sports. Right now, the ‘Canes can’t stop anyone. The ‘Canes haven’t found consistent play on defense at all this season. Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin haven’t been playing on an All-Star level, but it is really hard to put all the blame on them. Andrej Sekera has been the only constant for this team on the blue line this year. Justin Faulk is making big money, but he has been shaky all season. Faulk needs more consistency if this team wants to give their goalies some help at all. Young Ryan Murphy has shown he can play on the NHL level, but the veterans defenders are showing their age. Teams just look faster than the ‘Canes right now, and Bill Peters system needs to find more consistency on defense. The injury to Jordan Staal could really be messing with the team defense so far this season as well. Staal is obviously one of the best defensive forwards in the league, and his injury puts more pressure on the defenseman to stop opposing teams top forwards. The team has given up 27 goals this season in only 7 games.
It is obvious that this team needs to score more goals. Jiri Tlusty is the teams leading goal scorer. Chris Terry was called up from the AHL and is second on the team in goals and points. Alexander Semin has struggled to get going offensively, and Jeff Skinner finally scored his first goal of the season against Edmonton after recovering from an injury. Skinner scoring goals gives hope that the team can start clicking offensively but they need one of their star players to get hot. If the ‘Canes can find some a spark on offense they can take some pressure from the struggling defense. So far this season Jay McClement has had the most opportunities to score goals. He has been in the right spot at the right time, and been a threat to the opposing teams defense. He is also a third or fourth line center. Eric Staal will return to the lineup soon, and that will give the team another offensive weapon to add to their offense. The return of Eric Staal will also give Alexander Semin a better center to play off on the first line.
Is It Time To Make A Trade?
Eric Staal and Andrej Sekera both have had their names brought up in trade talks so far this season. The ‘Canes aren’t going to trade either of these players without receiving a lot in return. There is no reason to get rid of your captain and arguably best forward for only prospects and draft picks. The team deserves prospects and a couple of NHL players that will be serviceable for the team in the future in return for Staal. Andrej Sekera has been the best defender they have had this season and with tons of teams in a better place the ‘Canes that need an extra defender this season. It might be early for the team to start making trades, but it is really the choice of the front office. The front office in Raleigh has to decide if they want to tank and take a shot at getting either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Both are highly touted prospects and to some of the current NHL stars. It is still early for the team, and they can turn it all around. The next month will really show what direction the team decides it wants to go. I think the team needs a spark, and that spark might be the return of the Eric Staal. If Staal can bring leadership, and raise the level of his play and the level of play of players around him, the ‘Canes still have a chance.
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.