Carolina Hurricanes head coach, Bill Peters is not happy. In fact, he was furious with his team after their brutal lack of effort on Friday night against the Detroit Red Wings and again on Sunday afternoon when they lost to the San Jose Sharks.
But was Peters’ fury enough to fuel the Hurricanes into a win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night? Or, is it hit or miss as to which team will show up to meet the Flyers? The truth is, Peters’ frustration had better have caught his players’ attention, as this particular game could influence the outcome of the season and the Hurricanes’ playoff hopes.
After the 3-1 loss to the Sharks on Sunday, Peters had several candid comments that revealed the anger he was choking back. First, Peters said:
I didn’t think we were very good. Thought some guys were fast asleep at the start of the game.
Granted, that does not sound very angry but, he became more wound up with each answer to the questions posed to him by my colleagues in the media. Speaking of the Sharks, Peters said:
They were better than us. They were better than us from the start of the game right to the end. I thought they were good. They wore us out in our D-zone.
This was the hallmark of the game and a testament to the glaring difference between the two teams. The Sharks kept the Hurricanes pinned in the defensive zone for extended periods of time. The ‘Canes just couldn’t seem to clear the puck and generate quality scoring opportunities. The once-heralded Hurricanes defense seems to have hit a wall and it has not been as reliable as expected.
This will become a huge problem if it affects the team long-term. The one consistent positive over the past couple of years has been the ‘Canes’ defense. Justin Faulk, Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce are players that fans have come to rely on for stability and excellence on defense. As the team has struggled to score goals, most of the time, their woes were not on the blue line. Whatever is going on with the defensive corps needs to be fixed immediately or the Hurricanes can expect to miss the playoffs again.
Peters’ Fury Builds
The more questions Peters answered in Sunday afternoon’s post-game presser, the more furious he became. Peters said:
I was really disappointed in our compete today. Disappointing effort. Disappointing preparation. Disappointing effort and we got what we deserved.
The players were also disappointed and so were the fans. What is important now is finding an answer to the question, “What now?” Outside of yelling a lot and maybe throwing things, what can Peters do to wake up his squad?
When Peters was first introduced by general manager, Ron Francis as the Hurricanes’ new head coach, he said that the one tool of leverage a coach has is ice time. He hinted a little bit in this direction on Sunday saying that perhaps guys have grown used to playing together in certain line combinations and that maybe they have become complacent. Peters then said about the lineup: “It’ll be different Tuesday.”
Here is where all of this fury and bluster comes to a screeching halt. Talking about changes and actually making them are two different things. First, let’s review what Peters said next:
There’s three healthy bodies, there’s at least three that can go in. If not those three, there’s a group down in Charlotte, too, right? We can’t put that group out again after that. It’s not acceptable.
The three “healthy bodies” Peters was referring to are Phil Di Giuseppe, Marcus Krüger and Josh Jooris. They were all healthy scratches against the Sharks and Peters could swap them in for three that played poorly though it’s not a particularly bold move. Calling guys up from Charlotte, however, would be bold, but, it’s a move that appears to have no traction.
Peters and Reality
The reality is that no matter how frustrated the coach gets, it is up to Francis and the folks in the front office to make bold moves and they have chosen not to make any at this point. No players were called up from Charlotte, although guys like Valentin Zykov have proven that they can score at the AHL level, and likely could do no worse than the current Hurricanes’ roster offensively. Zykov has 23 goals this season with the Charlotte Checkers. Sure it’s a different world in the NHL but why not call him up and give him a chance?
Some of my media colleagues have pondered the same question. When Peters mentioned Charlotte, Zykov was one of the first to come to mind. Callers to the Hurricanes’ post-game radio show were all over the idea. Everyone would like to give the player who is scoring in Charlotte a chance, everyone but management.
Luke DeCock wrote in the Charlotte Observer yesterday,
Nothing changed about the team, either. No one was on waivers to make room for call-ups from Charlotte, and Peters said he wasn’t expecting any new arrivals. Justin Faulk was the first player off the ice after practice. Scott Darling saw plenty of shots and Cam Ward will start Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. All business as usual despite Sunday’s disaster.
Peters said he wanted to use the only tool he has as a coach to get his players’ attention: ice time. Unfortunately, the powers that be apparently see things differently. Hurricanes fans hope they’re right. The Flyers game on Tuesday night will be critical for positioning for a wild card spot in the playoffs. Will the Hurricanes respond?