The Carolina Hurricanes entered their Tuesday night match-up with the Florida Panthers clinging to the Southeast Division lead by the slimmest of margins. The Hurricanes and the Winnipeg Jets both have 32 points, but Carolina holds the edge in ROW (regulation or overtime wins; tiebreaker). The Hurricanes have lost three straight games as their offense has suddenly stalled (or “Staaled” if you like puns) and are in danger of losing not only the division lead but possibly a shot at the playoffs altogether. The Southeast is the weakest of the three divisions in the Eastern Conference, and it is entirely possible that the only team from it that will reach the postseason will be the one leading it at the end of the regular season.
The Hurricanes’ offense has more than its fair share of weapons: Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jiri Tlusty, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner. All five of those players have 18 points or more this season, and Eric Staal leads the way with 14 goals and 34 points. Skinner has not been the same player since returning from a concussion, managing just two goals in the last 10 games after scoring eight goals in the first 14 games of the season. Tlusty’s current four-game scoring drought is his longest since early February, and he has only managed two shots on goal in the last two games. Jordan Staal has failed to register a point in eight of the Hurricanes last 10 games, and it is pretty safe to say he’s been a bit of a disappointment this season. His older brother has continued to be steady, but can only do so much.
Eric Staal has at least a point in the Hurricanes’ last five games, and four goals and eight points in March. Semin seems to have finally hit his stride in March, with four goals and 14 points. He came into Tuesday night with a five-game point streak, but he and Eric Staal are really the only players contributing at the moment.
Justin Peters and Dan Ellis have done a decent job of filling in for the injured Cam Ward, but they aren’t getting the goal support they were at the beginning of the month. No matter who has been in net, if the Hurricanes score more three or more goals, they have a pretty good chance of winning games. It’s time for the team to figure out what the reason is for their current scoring lapse, and start fixing it before it’s too late.