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Mike Maniscalco

Carolina's season comes to an end (again)

Posted April 27, 2013

It wasn't supposed to end like this.

The Carolina Hurricanes added a highly-skilled winger to play along side Eric Staal. The organization traded for a rugged center to make them tougher up the middle and brought in a back-up goalie that had No. 1 experience.

A young coach with a winning pedigree and system that led to a big turn around last year was ready to take another step forward. A 48-game sprint to the playoffs would favor a young team.

But it comes to an end in Pittsburgh, with no playoffs yet again for the Hurricanes. The reality is the franchise will miss the post-season for the fourth straight year.

The front office will have extra time to address the concerns that this season exposed – the fact that there is not a lot of scoring depth and a lack of hard edged play from this team. The one dimensional offense made the Canes an easier team to play against. When the opponents only had to worry about the production of the Eric Staal-Alexander Semin-Jiri Tlusty line, their numbers cooled from record pace.

The trio, in just over half a season, put together one of the more impressive years from a top line in the organization's history. The second line that had visions of Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner providing even more goals never clicked and third and fourth lines lacked consistent offensive punch. The defense lacked intimidation, and the goaltending without Cam Ward was inconsistent.

This is revisionist history, but if number one goalie Cam Ward doesn't sprain his MCL, this team is fighting for a playoff spot against the Penguins in the last game of the regular season. Justin Peters and Dan Ellis couldn't grab hold of the chance to be the steady number one with Ward on the shelf. The Ward injury should prove how valuable he is to the franchise and that having a top netminder makes a huge difference night in and out in the NHL.

Ward's injury also that pointed to the flaw in how the blue line was constructed. The Canes back end was supposed to be puck movers that cleared the puck from danger and started the rush. It never developed. Injuries to this group did hamper the performance, but the team needs to have a tougher identity in front of whoever is stopping pucks.

Tim Gleason and Jay Harrison tried to provide that nastiness, but it was clear that something was missing. There has to be a fear factor going to the front of the net, and the Hurricanes have to find someone that can provide that.

Moving into the high rent district next season, a division that pits Carolina against teams that have been elite in the East like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Devils and yes the Capitals still face-off against the Canes, making the defense a harder group to play against is a must.

The third line scoring might be answered with a single move. Jeff Skinner goes to center, a position switch that the organization would be reluctant to do if in playoff contention. This strengthens the club down the middle and should keep Skinner away from those huge hits he absorbs by the boards and in front of the net. Three lines have become a must in today's NHL. Skinner paired with a scoring winger could turn him into a player that he was on the fast track to being his rookie season.

The schedule made it tough to put the brakes on things going sour, especially in the middle of the year. This not an excuse, Kirk Muller made that clear a week ago, professional players have to deal with it. Would it have been different if there was practice time in between games? Maybe the extra month to tinker with Jeff Skinner at center and find some scoring punch? Would Jordan Staal have found more of an offensive touch with more games? Could the power play with all that top end talent have found a rhythm? Again, ifs and buts...

But the reality is this is how it ends for the Hurricanes, another year without the playoffs in the Triangle.

14 Comments

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  • PanthersFan45 Apr 29, 12:53 p.m.

    Major disappointment for fans. They started out fast and had a successful road swing early in the year where they were being touted as one of the best teams in the eastern conference. Then it all came unglued with injuries and the inability to score ....... throw in one of the worst home records in the entire league and the results are obvious. Lots of work to do in the off season to see what needs to be done.

  • Hammerhead Apr 28, 11:34 a.m.

    Think the strike hurt this team with preseason etc. Hopefully, next year will be better!

    — Posted by NCSU84

    The lockout was two seasons ago, wasn't it?

  • NCSU84 Apr 27, 6:08 p.m.

    Think the strike hurt this team with preseason etc. Hopefully, next year will be better!

  • viking416 Apr 27, 4:53 p.m.

    Like the idea of moving Skinner to center. Not sure why so many are going about leadership...these guys are professionals. Work your butt off and that should be "leadership" enough. We should get a very good player in the draft (I expect a D man) and yes, we need to add a tough stay at home type D player....never liked when they let Allen walk. At forward the #1 line is set. #2 and #3 lines centered by Staal and Skinner with Ruutu, Dwyer, Nash and anyone else that can up their game...if not go outside the org

  • juniorsk831 Apr 27, 4:09 p.m.

    0-3 hockey, football and basketball maybe its time all three teams move out of NC

    — Posted by iron fist

    The Canes need new leadership at the top and that starts with the GM. Then some tougher and rougher D-men and we should be okay. The 3rd and 4th lines need some work but Rome wasn;t built in a day.

  • drmr46 Apr 27, 3:51 p.m.

    I still say that it starts at the top, and Karmanos is going to just suck it up and fire Rutherford. He has done this franchise no favors in bringing the players that he has. Change is inevitable so go ahead and start right now. Get some new leadership and go from there.

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Apr 27, 3:50 p.m.

    If the answer to the Canes' woes was that easy to solve, JR and Co. would have figured it out and fixed it. Sure, losing Ward hurt, but in the beginning of the season, when Ward struggled, it looked like Ellis might challenge him for the starting job. Jordan Staal didn't shine with his new team, Skinner suffered injuries, as did several defensemen. The Canes do have a good core, but they need to add a tough D-man.

    As a fan, I'm disappointed in how the season turned out, but I'm NOT disappointed with the team - they worked their tails off, but the hockey gods didn't smile on them this season. I can only hope JR will add the few pieces needed, because next year will be a lot tougher to make the playoffs.

  • Luv2Camp Apr 27, 3:47 p.m.

    The Staal boys need to go take a leadership course. Let the entire defense go and start over again. Karmanos and the other owners deserve better than the horrendous effort put forward by these guys this year.

  • jskinner23 Apr 27, 3:29 p.m.

    Muller needs to tell Ward that in order to get paid his high salary, he needs to play hockey in... View More

    — Posted by jscott13

    I'm not sure that's exactly what you want from an already overworked goalie who has a history of back problems.

  • common tater Apr 27, 1:25 p.m.

    Agree they need help on D to ever have a real shot. Even though they were losing, still watched every game. Hoping they can get a win tonight. It's depressing to think of 5 months with no canes games. Going to have to change out the canes calendar in the kitchen...don't want to be reminded every day.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
 
1st
LAL 6
DEN 6
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
 
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
 
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
2nd
NE 63
MAN 45
 
2nd
COLST 68
MERC 58
 
2nd
MISS 61
NARZ 51
 
2nd
WASH 57
PAC 51
 
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
1st
CHAR 25
MIAMI 28
 
1st
GAELS 21
UCI 21
 
1st
ILLST 17
ODU 6
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
 
2nd Intermission
ANA 2
ARI 0
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
2nd
NYG 21
DAL 10