Found July 04, 2013 on Shutdown Line:
2013 was a painful year for the Carolina Hurricanes and it had an appropriate ending with the team losing 8-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins. During that game, I remember the Root Sports Pittsburgh commentators saying that the Hurricanes were "making it too easy" for Pittsburgh. The Pens were skating circles around the Hurricanes for most of the game doing basically whatever they wanted while Carolina didn't do anything about it. Part of that is because the Canes were playing with only 16 skaters, but that game wasn't a unique case. Whether they were getting beat up in the trenches or dominated on the scoreboard, other teams had their way with the Hurricanes this year. Everything came easy for their opponents while everything seemed twice as hard for the Canes. This was especially true during the latter half of the year when the Canes won a total of four out of 23 games. The team was said to have a "fragile" mindset where they fell apart at various stages of the game and couldn't handle adversity. They were also criticized for being too soft after getting pushed around by teams like Ottawa, Washington, Boston and a few others. In the end, the general thought was that the team needed to be "tougher to play against" overall. How do you accomplish that, though? Personally, I think everyone has a different definition of which teams are "tough" to play against. To me, teams like Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Detroit are very difficult to play against. Not all of them are physically intimidating, but what makes them so difficult to play against is the fact that they always have the puck. It's hard to generate offense and control play if you are getting trapped in your own zone all the time. These teams are very good at doing that and it makes them tough and frustrating to play against in my opinion. Moreso than teams with bigger players who are more known for their physical play. This isn't to say that physical teams are bad territorially because hitting can be a way to separate players from the puck but generally, players who have a lot of hits are those who are chasing the puck all the time rather than driving the play. Do I think the Hurricanes need to be more effective physically? Yes, but if they had to sign one of two players for the bottom-six, I would lean towards them adding towards a more skilled two-way forward rather than a big, "energy" type player whose only purpose is to add "grit" to the team. He would fill a need, but the former player would be more beneficial to have.  Plus, adding a "gritty" player or two isn't going to result in much if he is just going to play on the third or fourth line. The Hurricanes found this out last year when they added Tim Wallace & Kevin Westgarth to the fold. Both guys are what most would consider "tough" and they are known for throwing their weight around, but how much of an impact did they have beyond that? Not a whole lot. Wallace's willingness to hit everything in his sight was nice and so was Westgarth standing up for his teammates, but they weren't enough to make the Hurricanes a tougher team. Wallace couldn't be trusted to play more than fourth line minutes and most of the times Westgarth fought came after one of their players got hurt., which mitigated his "presence" as an enforcer.  If the Canes want to get tougher, it is going to take more than adding a few big guys to the third and fourth lines or a physical defenseman. The Hurricanes also have players who are capable of being more effective physically than they are right now. Both Eric and Jordan Staal are big centers who are capable of leaving a physical presence, Tuomo Ruutu is the hardest hitter on the team, Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison and Justin Faulk are also very tough players and all of them play significant minutes. Why can't these guys get the job done? Part of the reason for the Staals not being more effective physically is because the Canes usually have the puck whenever they are on the ice, which means they are going to throw fewer hits. However, I think the team's mentality also has to change. I mentioned earlier that the word "fragile" was thrown around a lot to describe this team and while I don't think that's the best word, things always snowballed once they fell behind. Their starts to games were fine, but the second after they gave up a goal they would get overly cautious and played way too safe. This meant more dump-and-chase play, less players finishing their checks and a lot of guys making too many passes instead of just getting pucks on goal. When the Hurricanes are healthy and on their game, they can be a tough and very frustrating team to play against, as we saw during the first part of the season. However, once things went awry, they usually spun out of control and the Canes were always taken off their game. This is what needs to change and it's going to take more than adding one or two body bangers up front or on defense to fix it. The team itself needs to become stronger mentally and that change has to come from within. Confidence is something that usually follows results and the Hurricanes weren't getting any for the last month of the season and in turn, their confidence looked completely shot. A new year, a fresh start and some new teammates can do wonders, so what the Hurricanes do over the next few days will be important. The make-up and game plan of this team isn't bad, but that will only take you so far if the execution isn't there, as we saw plenty of times last year. Being able to finish and not let one mistake snowball into five different ones and let the game get out of hand is what ultimately needs to stop and it will take more than a couple of free agent signings for this team to get away from these bad habits. Fans can talk about how the team needs to hit more and while that might be true, if it doesn't result in more wins then it doesn't matter that much.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Hurricanes free agency: 5 potential signings

NHL free agency begins on Friday but the mostly rounded-out nature of the Carolina Hurricanes roster -- not to mention the amount of payroll they already have committed -- means that the organization will most likely not be big players. After awarding wing Alex Semin a five-year, 35-million contract extension last season, the Hurricanes did most of their big-spending long before...

Carolina Hurricanes: What Scouts Are Saying About Their Draft

Even the best laid plans go awry, Jim Rutherford knows, but the alternatives can sometimes unearth hidden treasures. The Carolina general manager couldn’t cajole the big kahuna (a top-four defenseman traded by a willing team) to take his bait (the fifth-overall selection in Sunday’s draft). Rutherford didn’t scamper around the Prudential Center floor Sunday at the 2013 NHL...

Khudobin signs one-year deal with Carolina

Didn't see this one coming. Bruins backup goaltender Anton Khudobin just signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Hurricanes sign Anton Khudobin, 1 year, $800,000. — Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) July 5, 2013 Wonder what Boston was offering. That's not exactly a major contract and doubt he'll beat out Cam Ward as the starter... ...

Dan Ellis To Dallas

on Dan Ellis: $900,000 AAV on his deal with Dallas — Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) July 5, 2013 2-year deal.

Sign bring back goalie Dan Ellis in free agency

Free agent goaltender Dan Ellis has signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with Dallas, where he made his NHL debut nine years ago. The deal announced Friday was the latest in a busy week for the Stars, who have made two trades to acquire three centers. The 33-year-old Ellis was 6-8-2 in 19 appearances with Carolina last season. He has a 2.73 goals-against average and a .908...

Hurricanes Free Agency Final Thoughts

The free agency period is less than 10 hours away from beginning and it's still tough to get a grasp on what exactly Hurricanes will do over the next few days. With a few needs to address and not much cap space to work with, GM Jim Rutherford is sort of in a bind this summer and will need to think of some creative ways to give the Hurricanes roster a boost heading into next season...

UFA Preview: Dan Ellis

Next up on the UFA Preview series is Dan Ellis of the Carolina Hurricanes. Once July 5 rolls around, if he is not re-signed by his current team, he is open to conversing and signing with any team in the league. Dan Ellis | G 6'1 | 191lbs 6/19/80; Age: 33 Past Contracts  Signed in 2008: 2-years, $3.5 million; $1.75 million cap hit Signed in 2010: 2-years...

Canes Sign Goalie Khudobin

RALEIGH, NC – Jim Rutherford, President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Anton Khudobin on a one-year contract. The deal will pay Khudobin $800,000 for the 2013-14 season. “Anton proved to be a very capable NHL backup for the Bruins last year,” said Rutherford. “This...

First Impressions: Mike Komisarek signing

The Hurricanes made another move to address their defense this off-season by signing Mike Komisarek to a one-year deal at $700k. Komisarek is a ten-year veteran who at the very least gives the Hurricanes some defensive depth and more of a physical presence on their blue-line. He was a solid shutdown defenseman with Montreal for most of his career, but his play dropped off quite a...

Will Zac Dalpe take the next step?

The Hurricanes need to add forward depth this summer but don't have a lot of cap space to do so. There are a lot of free agents they could sign to fill this void, but having someone from within take hold of one of the bottom-six spots could go a long way. The frustrating part is that the Hurricanes have been saying the same thing for the last few years, only for different positions...

First Impressions: Anton Khudobin

After Dan Ellis signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars, it looked like the Hurricanes were going to enter next season with Justin Peters as their back-up goaltender. This all changed once they signed Anton Khudobin to a one-year, $800,000 contract to add another goalie to the mix. Khudobin isn't exactly a proven commodity since he is 27 years old and has played only 21...

Carolina Hurricanes Sign Backup Goaltender Anton Khudobin by   Steven Ellis

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed goaltender Anton Khudobin to a one year, $800K deal. Khudobin was traded to the Boston Bruins from the Minnesota Wild on February 28, 2011 in exchange for Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen. This was the best possible situation for the 2004 draft pick, with Tim Thomas expected to retire in the near future. While playing with Boston this past season, [...]
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.