The Carolina Hurricanes have some defensive issues to resolve while preparing to face the Toronto Maple Leafs at the RBC Center on Thursday night.
After suffering a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., the team’s poor defensive effort continued to shed light on the team’s lack of ability to perform without goaltender Cam Ward in net.
Carolina has not won a game this season when their backup goaltender, be it Brian Boucher or most recently against the Penguins, Justin Peters, have taken their place in between the pipes.
Fragile foundation cracks
After minimizing their opponents’ shots to 25 or less during their previous four games and after establishing a rare two-game win streak, Carolina headed to the Steel City and allowed Peters to get bombarded with 52 shots against, a season high.
Aside from the fact that Peters is the current backup goaltender and the Hurricanes were playing a back-to-back game against the Penguins, allowing that many shots and losing the game in the third period highlights an area where improvement continually seems slow to develop for the longer term – defensive consistency.
The easy end to the discussion would be to describe this occurrence as an exception to what has happened this season, but it isn’t and should be concerning with two of the NHL’s top scorers in the Toronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul coming into town.
Timing is everything
Sure, the games the team has lost with either Boucher or Peters in net have included some good defensive performances in front of them with a bad bounce or two being the determining factor in losing the game.
However, Peters did not deserve what he got on Tuesday night.
Though it seems that there is no tangible and accountable explanation for losing games when Ward is not in net, one thing is certain, in order to get to the next level of building confidence in their overall game, the Hurricanes must win with their backup goaltender at some point.
Believe it or not, doing so will relieve some more pressure to improve the team’s overall confidence level and performance.
A courageous move by coach Kirk Muller would be to place Peters back in the net against the Maple Leafs and truly test his team in being accountable to one another – a tenet he has preached since he arrived.
The Hurricanes are 1-0-1 against Toronto with a 2-1 overtime loss in Toronto being the most recent result between the two teams which wasn’t a defensive gem either.
As the Hurricanes prepare to play their 39th game with a 12-20-6 record and 30 points to show for their season so far, it’s time for Muller and his staff to really start pushing the limit on what this team is capable of doing.
Though this team has made some positive strides under Muller’s leadership, it seems that the same inherent problems exist, so there is no better time than the present to start making some bold moves.
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