The Carolina Hurricanes finished a four-game road trip with a 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba on Saturday night.
The loss brings the team full-circle from a situation that it started in before embarking on its nine-day journey playing away from home.
The Hurricanes started a three-game win streak in Raleigh that continued through the first half of their road trip in Boston and Buffalo, but it was a run that ended with losses in St. Louis and Winnipeg, and has now placed the team facing another streak – one that includes two consecutive losses.
The Hurricanes now prepare to take on the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night understanding where and how they have lapsed recently.
Waves of energy
After starting the season winless at 0-2-1, the Hurricanes understood that playing a full 60 minutes in every game would make the difference.
They put forth that effort and were rewarded with three straight wins.
However, it seems that there exists a fine line that coach Paul Maurice and his team glide along that makes the difference between earning wins and suffering losses.
Maurice has pointed out previously that when the team’s energy is not there, the passes get shorter, the puck starts bouncing and play gets choppier, and everyone has to work harder to make the simple things; well, simple.
Indicators of success and failure
After playing only eight games into the regular season, one cannot know with certainty what this team will encounter during the rest of the year, but evidence of a few factors have come to light.
Full effort required
Firstly, this team is currently structured to be successful when working as an entire unit utilizing speed and effective ‘gap control’ throughout the game and leaves very little margin for anyone to have a ‘bad night’.
This is a great facet of this young and hard-working team’s make-up that is already making it one of the NHL’s most exciting teams to watch when using the victory over the Bruins as a case in point to review.
However, the team’s drop in physical and mental endurance levels required to maintain this style of play has caught them on the wrong end of each game that they have lost.
Thus, it begs the question, can they keep it going at this pace all season?
Back it up
Secondly, this team performs differently when Cam Ward is not in the net.
Though it may be purely coincidental, this fact seems to extend back even to last season and could prove significant as the year progresses with veteran Brian Boucher in that spot.
Sure, they have lost games with Ward in net, but in both games that Boucher has played in this season, the team has lost them after taking early leads and not finishing the job by the end of regulation time.
The losses seem to have come about more as a result of factor number one – not putting it all together for an entire 60 minutes.
“We didn’t do him any favors,” Maurice said of the team’s performance in front of Boucher after Saturday’s downfall in Winnipeg.
Nothing to panic about just yet, but this team must win when Boucher is in net in order to get that ‘warm, fuzzy feeling’ and confidence knowing that whoever is in goal, they will win.
Excitement not lacking
All things considered, the Hurricanes know what they have to work with in the current lineup and what is required to win – speed, strength, focus and endurance.
They’ve earned good wins and bad losses and currently sit with a 3-3-2 record.
It seems that at the moment, the Hurricanes will continue to play in streaks and provide everyone following them with excitement in victory and anxiety in defeat, and are proving that having hope is more exhilarating than knowing what will happen in the future.
However, knowing that you will win rather than hoping if you do provides for a more stable heart rate and anxiety level to live with.
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