5 Carolina Hurricanes That Are Working Harder Than They Should
5 Carolina Hurricanes That Are Working Harder Than They Need To
While it may be true that hard work never hurt anyone, sometimes you can be working too hard. It takes a whole team to create success. As the Carolina Hurricanes struggle early in the young season, there are a crop of players trying to carry the entire team on their backs.
It's a great thing to give a hundred percent every single game, night in and night out. How constructive is it, though, to have a handful of guys who are punching the clock harder than the others?
Allowing certain members of the team to put in overtime when the rest of the team continues to struggle is a coaching issue. It's hard to imagine head coach Kirk Muller not seeing this imbalance. While a third of the team is producing and the rest are being held back, this is when a coach must step in and either shuffle the lineup, or in some cases demand harder training.
Currently a handful of Hurricanes are over-producing. While it's good to have the production, this is dangerous as injuries do happen. Should over-producing players go down, it leaves those holes to be filled by guys who have had a rough go of it. Not to mention the elephant in the room, that if these guys are pushing themselves too hard, they increase their risk of injury exponentially.
These are players who the rest of the team needs to take out to dinner should the Hurricanes find success at the end of the day.
5. Nathan Gerbe
First of all, picking Nathan Gerbe up from the ailing Buffalo Sabres may prove to be the best decision Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford ever made since firing Paul Maurice (the second time).
Gerbe is getting it done, while the rest of the lines he plays on are content to sit back and watch the doctor operate. There's no reason for a player with three goals and two assists in six games to be skating with a zero Plus/Minus.
He's found a groove he likes in Carolina. Now he needs to invite others to join him in that groove.
4. Cam Ward/Anton Khudobin
Of course these count as two, but we'll let it slide
Any time you see goaltenders turning in 30+ save losses, you know the defense is letting them down. Ward faces far too many shots in far too short a span. Too often he makes dynamite saves that wouldn't have been needed if someone would clear the slot or crease out.
On the other hand, as Ward struggles, it's come down to Khudobin to pick up the slack--which he has. That all vanished Sunday against Phoenix when he went down hurt with an obvious lower body injury. The injury came while he came way out of the crease during a power play to stop a shorthanded rush. Why was that even happening?
Thanks to a reluctant defense, Ward is victim to probability and Khudobin is hurt.
3. Jay Harrison
Facts are facts, and the Hurricanes' defense is in deep trouble.
With the indefinite absence of injured elder statesman Tim Gleason, it's come down to a crop of younger players to handle the back end. Which save for the dogfight with Los Angeles, they are failing to do.
There but for the grace goes Jay Harrison.
Harrison is unafraid to mix it up, smash and bang, and still find a way to be where he's supposed to be at the right time. While Justin Faulk and Andrej Sekera continue to struggle as a pair, it's Harrison who is playing a defenseman's defense.
The problem here is that as he grinds, penalties are inevitable. Leading the team with 15 PIM, Harrison needs assistance. He can't be the only guy getting in opponents' faces.
2. Jeff Skinner
Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey... what are we going to do with you?
Skinner exploded into the NHL his rookie season, snagging a Calder Trophy and a spot on the All-Star team which is unheard of for a 17-year-old.
Since then, he's done nothing but improve over the few years he's been with the team. So far in this season, Skinner has seven points on two goals and five assists and is skating at an amazing plus-four. Offense just happens with him, but he's not getting support. Both his goals were from total individual effort and were only scored as "assisted" because there happened to be a few passes before he went into Beast Mode.
Skinner is laying it down, but he's having to pull weight he shouldn't have to. On a team with guys who have been around the league like Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, and Radek Dvorak have, why is Skinner emerging as a team leader?
While he's got a pretty hot stick at the moment, his shoulders aren't quite strong enough yet to carry an offense.
1. Jiri Tlusty
No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Staal-Semin-Tlusty should be one of the top producing lines in the NHL and have some kind of catchy name like the United Nations Line or The Concorde Line (SST...get it?).
Unfortunately, Staal and Semin just can't seem to find a common ground to work with each other on, and this leaves Tlusty to come up with the production. And that's what he's doing. On the top line, Tlusty has been nationwide, coming up huge with the hits, blocks, and general support role he needs to. Problem is, Staal and Semin aren't giving him a whole lot to support.
Until his linemates can come up with some kind of plan or commonality, Tlusty is playing a supporting role in a play with no cast.