Five Carolina Hurricanes positives right now

Five Carolina Hurricanes positives right now

Lately, the Daily Cup of Joe has been a source for Canes viewpoints that were a bit ahead of the bus that was coming. Before the win over San Jose, I wrote an article suggesting that lineup changes were needed to try to build a more balanced lineup.  Coming off a win in Detroit and then maybe even more so after the Canes beat San Jose, line tinkering seemed premature. But now with four losses since then Brind’Amour capitulated, discussion of what needs to change is growing. Then on October 30, I wrote a Daily Cup of Joe entitled, “Five hard truths.” That article offered some harsh realities on a Canes team that was a pretty good 6-4-1. With three straight losses since then, that article is gradually looking to be more even-handed as vitriol rises with the losing streak. Then to conclude a negative run, Friday’s Daily Cup of Joe called out unfinished work from the offseason that could doom the 2018-19 season. Based on the recent tone, one might think that I am completely down on the team. That is not actually the case. Given the lack of experience in the lineup and in the coaching ranks and uncertainty in goal, I think the Hurricanes right now look exactly like what they are which is a promising team talent-wise wise but still learning and growing. So today’s Daily Cup of Joe reverses course and calls out a few significant positives with the team right now.   1) There is still hope for the 2018-19 season After a 4-0-1 start, a 6-6-2 mark is no doubt disappointing. And the...
Could Canes 2018-19 season be sunk by unfinished offseason work?

Could Canes 2018-19 season be sunk by unfinished offseason work?

After a tremendous 4-0-1 start, the Carolina Hurricanes are officially on the roller coaster again for the 2018-19 season. With the current two-game losing streak with both games at home, the coaster is decidedly down heading into a four-game road trip that starts with two #CanesAfterDark events that thankfully hit the weekend. The current 6-5-1 mark is a deja vu treading water mark that is uninspiring but at the same time catastrophic. But the front part of the season has identified a handful of gaps that one could argue are the result of unfinished work over the offseason. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe looks at three key weaknesses that arguably should have been on the work list over the summer.   1) The addition of an additional proven scorer I stand by my original assertion that the departure of Jeff Skinner was a culture change type decision and likely heavily influenced by Brind’Amour and not based on production or statistics. If you take that at face value and trust that Brind’Amour is the right person to effect this change, the debate of how much the team needs Skinner’s scoring right now becomes a moot point. But that said, I do think the Hurricanes came up one move short in the summer game of musical chairs when the team was unable to trade Justin Faulk for scoring help to back fill Skinner’s slot and replace his production. On July 3 before Calvin de Haan was signed and before Jeff Skinner was traded, I mapped out a series of three moves. I had the Hurricanes signing Calvin de Haan to solidify the defense...
Ch-ch-ch-changes… Lineup tinkering aiming for a higher gear

Ch-ch-ch-changes… Lineup tinkering aiming for a higher gear

Yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe was entitled, “What is working / What is broken”. The article highlighted both positives and negatives through 12 games and stopped just short of suggesting lineup changes to try to improve a couple current gaps. With me fighting a nasty cold, I will offer a handful of suggested changes that follow from a similar article last week and will then open the floor up for the Coffee Shop to help coach the team forward to a higher level.   Try to spark another scoring line Somehow, some way, the Hurricanes need to coax more offense out of the bottom half of the lineup. The groups which have mostly been together since the beginning of the season just are not producing. No doubt there is some risk to it, but I would at least short-term put Teuvo Teravinen on another line. He has been part of the team’s best line but is not really clicking. Might he be able to help spark a couple other line mates on another line? The move also makes room for Andrei Svechnikov or another wing to jump into a favorable slot and possibly catch a spark. If I made this move, I would very closely monitor the play of Aho’s line and be fairly quick to reunite the trio if the line starts to sputter without Teravainen. While there is risk in moving Teravainen, I think he presents the greatest opportunity spark another line and generate more balanced scoring.   Put another forward on the power play Again with the aim of sparking a stagnant player, I would create power...
What is working / What is broken

What is working / What is broken

With the conclusion of Tuesday’s loss to the Boston Bruins, the Hurricanes are suddenly 12 games into the 2018-19 season. That is not enough to make final declarations on the season, but it is enough data to start considering what is working, considering what is working and making adjustments to the initial model.   The original model and its early success In preseason and out of the starting gate in the regular season, the Hurricanes style of play could best be described as a frenetic, everyone forward style of hockey that dared teams to find a way through the aggressive waves of puck pursuit. The result initially was that the system itself was the offense. The Hurricanes more or less overwhelmed teams and regularly went very quickly from not having the puck at all to collecting good scoring chances. Aho’s line scored but so did Staal’s. A handful of goals from the bottom two lines was enough with both of the top two lines going.   NHL v2.0 after adjustment against the Canes aggressive style But as game tape has become available, I think a subtle shift has occurred. The Hurricanes are still having success with their aggressive forecheck and are winning the puck possession/shot total statistics by margins not significantly different from the first few games. But what has changed is probably because there is enough game film to prepare for it, teams are less overwhelmed. The result is fewer of the grade A chances that result instantly. The result is that the Hurricanes still have the puck but now are required to muster some combination of playmaking...
Five hard truths

Five hard truths

First to be clear, the Hurricanes 6-4-1 start is a positive. My standings based on games above .500 (to adjust for games played) sees the Hurricanes tied with three other teams for both the last Metropolitan Division playoff slot and the second Eastern Conference wild card slot. That is a good place to be. But nonetheless, today’s Daily Cup of Joe turns a bit negative and offers up a set of hard truths.   1) It still comes down to goaltending The Hurricanes have been able to outscore netminding and even special teams struggles to some degree early on. But as the NHL season wears on, the scores tend to look more like 3-2 than 5-3. As that begins to happen, the margin for error shrinks, and an extra goal here or there due to weak netminding can too regularly be the difference. And that unfortunately is exactly where the Hurricanes have generally landed right when it was time to push for a playoff spot during the winter months. I would love to believe that sub-par netminding is something that can be overcome, but I just do not think that will be the case. In the end, a significant component in determining this team’s fate will be goaltending.   2) The current team is significantly better with Victor Rask than without him Say what you want (and it is all true) about Victor Rask’s sub-par 2017-18 season, but the current lineup would be significantly better with Rask than without him. Even the low-scoring version of Rask from 2017-18 had 14 goals and 17 assists. Sadly, that would be an...
Considering Carolina Hurricanes contracts

Considering Carolina Hurricanes contracts

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe treads off the beaten path a bit in terms of day to day coverage of the Hurricanes and takes a look at some of the contract financials for the Hurricanes.   Carolina Hurricanes salary – The big picture In total, the Hurricanes sit dead last in the NHL for 2018-19 with only $63.2 million in salary. That puts the team about $16 million below the salary cap ceiling. Occasionally someone pins this solely on the fact that the team is cheap. There might or might not be some truth to this assertion, but the current situation for the team also plays a significant role. The Canes currently have four forwards playing on sub $1 million contracts and four other young players playing on similarly priced second contracts. That means that the team will see its salary climb in the coming years as next contracts increase significantly in price. If one only considers Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen’s contracts due to be renewed next summer, the team could see an increase of $9 million or more, and that assumes that Aho’s next contract is only $7 million per year and Teravainen’s $6 million.   Carolina Hurricanes salary – Did the window close on Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen? Speaking of which, I expected Aho to be re-signed this past offseason while he was still sitting on mid-60s for points. But now approaching the end of October, Aho is on pace for 110 points. He is likely to cool from that pace, but even still, one has to wonder if his next contract now pushes up...