What's Wrong With the Canes?

The Carolina Hurricanes are missing something so far this season, but what?

Passes at the feet.  Shots high and wide.  Inability to consistently win individual battles.  Fans could probably make a long list of things that are going wrong for the Carolina Hurricanes so far this season.  But how can the team fix these problems?

Both John Forslund and Chuck Kaiton have called out the work effort of some of the forwards for not getting into the "dirty areas" on the ice, but there is more to it than that.

There seems to be very little chemistry so far this season.  Sometimes it looks like there are just a bunch of individuals skating around on the ice instead of a cohesive team.  Often times they do not seem to work together very well or trust each other.  For a group that went so far in the postseason just a few short months ago, it's surprising.

The term "panic button" is being thrown around the Caniac Nation quite a bit lately. Some are ready to push it now and others want to wait.  But when is the right time for the coaching staff and for management to be concerned enough to do something?  Is 8 -10 games into the season too early to be proactive? 

Not for some teams.

Unhappy with the consistency of team play, the Boston Bruins traded Chuck Kobasew earlier this week to the Minnesota Wild for two prospects and a draft pick. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli had this to say to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:

It was done for a variety of reasons," Chiarelli told ESPN.com on Monday. "One was that I wasn't really happy with the way we had started. But that wasn't the primary reason. Certainly, every time we go into a lull, I'm not going to do something like that, especially given what we accomplished last year."

No, but the message was sent to his players Sunday after a 3-4-0 start: wake up!

This is the same team which pulverized the Canes by a score of 7-2 in early October.  They lost their leading goal scorer from last season, (Kessel) and have also had injuries to deal with.

One might assume that everything is peachy keen up in the nation's capital as the Washington Capitals are comfortably sitting in the division lead, but that team has one angry head coach.  Bruce Boudreau bagskated his team earlier this week.  Check out these Tweets from Caps beat writer Tarik El Bashir:

Coach Boudreau just put the players through their paces. Long, hard skate after drills has many players doubled over.

Coach BB isn't happy. He's skating the players very hard for the second straight day. He's screaming at them during suicides.

Boudreau is still yelling -- and the players are still sprinting blueline to blueline. Not sure I've ever seen Coach skate 'em this hard.

Some might say, this is how champions are made.  Others would say that you can lose a team just as easily with this treatment.  Regardless, even though the team is winning they have a coach who is obviously not satisfied with mediocrity.  (For the record, Alexander Semin did not skate the next morning due to an "illness" and he did not play in Washington's 5-4 win over Atlanta last night). 

At least two other NHL teams have gone through a similar ritual this young season, the Habs and Leafs.   Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail discusses the pros and cons of the coaching strategy in this excellent article.

If they continue to lose, could the Hurricanes be headed for a bagskate?  Would it work to shake things up or would it alienate this veteran team from the coaching staff? 

General Manager Jim Rutherford is a patient man.  He usually waits until December to make adjustments if the club needs it.  Fans should not expect any coaching changes this season though, regardless of what happens with the team.  Maurice just signed a three year contract and he won't be going anywhere, anytime soon. 

But Rutherford does have options.  Carolina is blessed with some top line talent in Albany, just chomping at the bit for an opportunity to play in the NHL.  The organization would prefer that they have a chance to learn and grow in the minors, but there are several positives to inserting youthful exuberance into a group of comfortable veterans.  It has a tendency to shake everyone up.  The biggest question is, how long should Rutherford wait? 

One thing for certain, fans are not the only ones disappointed in the team's poor start.  The franchise has spent more money than ever before on player's salaries this season, almost to the limit of the salary cap.  If things don't change, they can not afford to sit idly by and watch this team's playoffs hopes go down the drain. 

The next two games for the Hurricanes could be key.

____

Hockeymom will post some "Clippings" during the lunch hour and I will have a preview for tonight's game between the Canes and Avs later this afternoon.  TGIF!

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