Strange things are afoot for the Carolina Hurricanes.
After finally righting the ship in mid-November, Carolina suddenly found themselves having to field tough questions about goaltending. Somewhere in there, Alexander Semin was concussed, Jeff Skinner returned, and oh — they played some hockey too.
It was a grab bag coming down the stretch. Two losses to the Boston Bruins were not easy to deal with, nor was the loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Always looking on the sunny side will show that the second of those losses to Boston was in overtime, getting the team a much-needed point in the standings.
After completely humiliating the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night, the huge question to ask the Hurricanes is, “where was this last week?”
It’s hard to tell which Hurricanes squad will come out of the tunnel at any given game. Sometimes, they come out and play like a finely-tuned wrecking machine, other times they come out looking like they just learned the sport. Which Cam Ward we see is also as much a toss-up as the weather. Sometimes Ward is nails, other times he slides a yard too far out of position to give David Krejci an opening the size of New Hampshire to score the overtime game-winner.
Moving forward, the less question marks that are hanging over the Hurricanes, the better. Whether head coach Kirk Muller needs to run more drills in practice, log more time in the film room, or wear the same tie every night — it’s imperative he figures out and bottles whatever it was that happened on Sunday and two-thirds of Saturday.
With a home-and-home with the New Jersey Devils coming up, this is a perfect opportunity to turn small screws. Muller can put his game plan out on Wednesday, see what works, and then employ the scientific method on Friday night against New Jersey again. These are precious chances for any coach.
Big-time games from big-time guys are the heart and soul of the impending turnaround, and will do nothing but inspire the younger players. All of that, however, is wasted time if it doesn’t happen on the regular. Flashes of brilliance won’t win the Prince Of Wales Trophy. Long-term consistency does … and also the power play.