It has been an interesting start to the season for the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes began the season with one of the best starts in franchise history, winning five of their first six games before their three game road trip. Road woes and goalie issues have been the biggest standout of this season.
The Canes play great at home. So far this season they have only lost two games at home, mind you they only lost one game in October. Their play at home has been great, not perfect, but enough to get wins consistently. Thankfully, the team’s ability to score has helped them in a lot of games to keep teams from coming back. When on the road they are a different story. They have lost four out of seven games on the road, not to mention losing two out of three on a west coast road trip. Let’s take a look at the cause of these road woes and the issues with their goalies.
Goalie play has been too inconsistent for the Canes
Petr Mrazek has been the main goalie for the Hurricanes this season. The Czechoslovakian has had moments where he has played really well and other moments where you wonder what the heck he is thinking. There are several games this year where he has pulled off seemingly impossible saves to keep the puck out of the net, and in those same games will have a lapse of concentration and leave the net wide open for the opposing team. Plus, Mrazek at home is a different Mrazek than the one that plays on the road.
Take a look at these statistics. Mrazek when playing in the comforts of PNC Arena, has a save percentage of .925, while on the road he has a save percentage of .883. Now, that is quite a difference in numbers. Also, he averages 1.97 goals at home, while allowing an average of 3.44 goals per game on the road. Backup goalie, James Reimer has also not been the best. He was the goalie in three of the team’s losses, including the tough loss at home to the New Jersey Devils.
The agony of losing on the road
The Canes are a different team when they play on the road, and they showed that Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. They went toe to toe with the Flyers all the way until the third period. Then the home team scored three unanswered goals leading to a 4-1 loss for the Hurricanes, and worse another loss in the Metropolitan Division. Maybe a change of pace would help. One idea would be to stop dressing an extra defender on road games. In cases where the Hurricanes have dressed an extra defender they have not won once. If you are winning games with the usual twelve forwards and six defenders, why would you change that? The Hurricanes will look to end a two game skid this Thursday as they take on the New York Rangers from PNC Arena.
Consistency is key for the Canes
Let’s face it, the Canes have a ridiculous amount of talent on their team. Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Dougie Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin; I mean the list goes on and on. The team as a whole has to play consistently in order to put themselves in a good spot in the playoffs. Inconsistent play will not get you far in a division like the Metropolitan. When you have teams like the Capitals, Islanders, Penguins, and Flyers, you cannot afford to lose a lot of games, especially on the road.
Do the Canes have the potential to win the Stanley Cup? Absolutely! The team has all the talent in the world, the only knock on them would be their lack of experience. The month of November looks to be a very promising month for the Canes as there are a lot of games they should be able to win. Through November they play the Rangers, Senators, Red Wings, Panthers, and Lightning. All of these are winnable games, where if they are consistent, they should remain near the top of the Metro Division, and near the top of the Eastern Conference as a whole.
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