OK, maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I could not resist a catchy headline :). I also want want to say that this is NOT a reaction to a recent poor play, most of these points would be valid even if the team was winning. Anyway, here it goes:
- Short Preseason. There is not much to add as this was covered elsewhere, so let me just make a couple of observations. If the team is so fragile that it cannot handle full preseason, how can they handle regular season and playoffs? Besides, they only played Nashville and Atlanta, I understand that this minimized the travel, but with all due respect for those teams, a team that is build for a playoff run needs better opponents to see where it is. How about Philly, Pittsburgh or New Jersey?
- Team Effort. It just does not seem to be there, hard to say what is going on. There are flashes at the end of games but it needs to be much better.
- South East Division. SE is getting better every year. Few years back, this was an easy conference to win, now teams got better. Washington got Ovechkin, TB has some pretty good young players to go with Lecavalier and St. Louis, even Atlanta looks better. Those teams have youngsters playing on scoring lines and contributing, while Canes youngsters are not ready to play in the NHL. All of those teams sucked for at least a couple of years and thus were able to draft very good prospects. I am not sure if Canes can keep up in 3-5 years. Do not get me wrong, I like Sutter or Boychuk but they are no Ovechkin or Stamkos.
- Goal scoring. Not much to add there, both primary and secondary scoring has to get going.
- Face-offs. Tripp Tracy likes to say how important the face-offs are and I agree with him, but Canes stats in the faceoff circle are 205/226 (FW/FL) or 48%. Not horrible, but for a team with Brindy and Yelle (who was supposed to be face-off specialist) it's pretty sad to be bellow 50%. If you are wondering, Staal is 43%, Brindy 54%.
- Back-up goaltending. OK, I like Cam Ward, but where is Leighton? Either he is terrible, or Mo likes Ward too much. The point is, Cam needs a break here and there. He may say he wants to play every game, but Mo should know when to rest him. If Wardo gets overworked and gets injured, it will be tough. Leighton has done a reasonable job last year for a backup and I think he should play at least once every other week. Leighton can handle a game here and there, if Mo lets him sit for an extended period he will lose his confidence and will truly suck come game time.
- Brindy. Now, I do not hate him, he does a reasonable job for a third-line center, but he should realize what his role is and should give up C to Staal. It is Staal's team now and if Staal wears C, he will have no excuse and will get an extra motivation.
- Staal. OK, I like Staal as well, but he has this tendency of not showing up at certain games and going over long stretches of games without getting any (or very few) points. He has to find a way to show up every game, even if things are not going his way. Maybe if he wears a C and has official responsibility on his shoulders, he would try harder every game. Season has 82 games, not just last 40 and playoffs.
- LaRose. I like Chad very much, but where has he been so far this year? He just does not seem to pursue the puck with the same passion so far this season. He needs to pick it up, the whole team plays better, when he shows some energy.
- Yelle. Anytime he is on ice, he looks like a penalty call waiting to happen. He plays a pre-lockout style of game with grabbing anything that moves by him. I am surprised that he only has 8 penalty minutes. But then again, he is a Fourth-line center and he cannot be blamed for the poor performance so far. But still, do we not have someone in the minors (not Sutter) who can fill in the checking role? We should have a decent defensive forward in the system who can play on the fourth line, he would be cheaper and would have some perspective with the team.
Stay tuned for Part II: Ten things I love about Canes. Meanwhile, floor is open for your comments.