In the Hurricanes’ last few games, their struggles can be traced back to problems that plagued them earlier in the season, namely odd-man rushes against and costly defensive breakdowns.
Following the win over New Jersey in their most recent home game, it seemed like those problems were in the rearview mirror for good until they burst back onto the scene over the last week, especially in back-to-back 5-1 losses in Boston and Ottawa.
Since coach Paul Maurice arrived in early December, eliminating those breakdowns, which he believes are caused by cheating offensively and pressing too hard to score goals, was among his top priorities
With goals again hard to come by, those tendencies seems to have returned.
“We won those games, all tight games, and then you get that sense that we should start winning by two and three now because we’re rolling, we’re confident and we think we have to generate a little more and create a little bit more,” said coach Paul Maurice. “In attempting that feat, we’ve sorely missed the boat defensively. That’s where we were good.”
“Since Mo came in we focused on that and started winning games,” said Eric Staal. “Then we had a game not go our way and old habits came back.”
In addition to getting back to the principles that had brought them success, Maurice hopes some new line combinations will spark his team. Ray Whitney moves up with Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu, while Sergei Samsonov, who had been playing on the left side of that line, was with Rod Brind’Amour and Justin Williams.
Maurice cautioned that those combinations aren’t set in stone due to health reasons (Whitney, along with Niclas Wallin and Cam Ward, didn't take the ice Wednesday), but added that he does expect to have a full lineup against the Maple Leafs on Thursday.
“We’ll move guys around, but we’ve got to get that bite back in our game that we had last week that left somewhere between Jersey and Florida,” he said.