The Carolina Hurricanes dropped two tough games over the weekend, losing in Boston Saturday then being shutout at home Sunday by San Jose.
1. Where is Jordan Staal’s absence hurting the Hurricanes most? Perhaps in line structure. Coach Bill Peters has endlessly shuffled in lines in search of combinations that work, but he's been unable to find consistency thanks to injuries and uneven play. While there are no easy answers to where Staal fits when he comes back, he does give the team a defensive force down the middle and the ability to use Eric Staal in a more offensive role — much like the team is forced to do with Jeff Skinner because of his defensive deficiencies.
2. Once again, Carolina’s goaltenders deserved better. None of the three goals (not counting the Sharks’ empty-netter Sunday) scored over the weekend could be pinned solely on Cam Ward or Anton Khudobin, who both played well but came away with losses. Look no further than Carolina struggles scoring 5-on-5 goals: the Canes rank 27th in the league with 0.71 goals per one goal scored by their opponents, a number that's tough to overcome even with a much improved power play.
3. Speaking of Ward, he has now gone seven straight games without giving up more than two goals, his best run since January 2012 when he had nine straight outings of allowing two or less. This November he is 5-2 with a .942 save percentage and 1.57 goals-against average, numbers the team will need to him to replicate if they want to have a successful West Coast swing.
Number To Know
29 — Place out of 30 teams the Hurricanes rank in the overall NHL standings after Sunday’s games. Carolina’s three straight losses have dropped them to 5-9-3 on the season, ahead of only Buffalo and behind Columbus due to tiebreakers. The Canes are five points behind the third-place Rangers, but have five teams to climb in the standings to be in playoff position.
Jiri Tlusty — The Hurricanes winger moved back into first on the team in goals with his seventh Saturday in Boston, but he also had several opportunities to score against the Sharks. It seemed Tlusty was the only player doing what Peters said his team was lacking over the weekend: creating traffic in front of the goalie and looking for redirections.
Andrej Sekera — More than anything, Sekera was the victim of bad bounces over the weekend. On Saturday, he fanned on a backhand pass to partner Justin Faulk, leading to a Seth Griffith goal that tied the game at one and seemed to deflate the fast-starting Hurricanes. Then he was again victimized by a puck with eyes, breaking up a 2-on-1 pass by Tomas Hertl only to see the puck end up back on Hertl’s stick and in the net for the first goal and eventual game-winner.