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Putting it all Together

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
If it’s not one thing, it’s the other.

You can point your finger at a number of different reasons why the Hurricanes have struggled at times this season, be it not scoring enough goals, allowing too many or going through lapses in special teams play.

While it’s true that all of those have been at fault at various points thus far, what really drives the team’s overall inconsistency is that on any given night, the main culprit could be any one of those things.

The defense and goaltending took the brunt of the blame during a four-game losing streak before the All-Star break, but both of those areas looked just fine in Tuesday’s loss in Nashville

Instead, a lack of offense proved problematic in that game, as the Hurricanes were unable to sneak one past Predators goalie Chris Mason, who made 31 saves for the shutout.

While all facets of the team’s play have seen their highs and lows this season, the key moving forward will be getting all areas of their game clicking at the same time.

”I don’t know if you want to call it a disconnect, but we just haven’t put it all together,” said defenseman Bret Hedican. 

The Canes are currently trying to sort out their offense, which has slowed since starting out as the league’s best.  The team has only scored one goal in the last two games, and the power play has gone 1-16 in four games since the All-Star break.

According to defenseman Glen Wesley, the key to getting goals is doing a better job of getting the puck into scoring areas and following them once they get there.

”The bottom line is that we’ve got to get pucks to the net, we’ve got to get traffic, we’ve got to get screens and sometimes you’ve got to get your nose dirty,” he said.  “We need to do a little more and bear down in those situations, and unfortunately it hasn’t been working out that way.”

Increased offensive production from the blue line in recent weeks may be an indication of an attempt to try to do that.  Never ones to appear on the score sheet very often, Tim Gleason has two multiple-point games in his last seven while Mike Commodore had a three-game point streak at the end of January.

“I think we’ve done a better job, but there’s always room for improvement,” said Wesley of the defensemen getting more involved in the offense.  “It’s something that we continue to work on and want to do a better job of making sure we are getting pucks to the net and getting them there for the forwards for the tips, rebounds and those types of opportunities.”

Their next test will be a Friday night match-up in Washington, which will basically be worth four points rather than two given the extremely tight race in the Southeast Division.  The Capitals only trail the Canes by one point with two games in hand, and could actually be the division leaders going into Friday’s game depending on what they do in Philadelphia Wednesday night.

Even though the current division-heavy schedule format proved unpopular enough to be tossed out after this season, the stage is set for an interesting finish to the season with about half of the Canes remaining games against the Southeast.

All that has Carolina paying a little more attention to the out of town scores than they normally would.

”No, I haven’t looked,” said Hedican, clearly joking.  “Of course I have.  Everybody’s got to know at this time of year where you stand and where you’re sitting, and obviously we’re in a tight position.  No question about it, we’re fighting for our lives and so are three, four or five other teams.  We’ve got to continue to try to improve in a lot of areas and there’s no better time than now.”
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