Hurricanes’ top guns firing blanks

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes are trying to work themselves out of their current three-game losing streak as they prepare to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at PNC Arena on Friday.

Since the opening day of training camp, head coach Kirk Muller has directed his staff and players’ efforts to focus their energy on the team’s all-around defensive play.

Their constant focus on a five-up and five-back style of play has tested the team’s endurance and ability to focus on sticking to ‘the plan’, game-in and game-out.

At times, the strategy has worked and the team’s effort has looked impressive while on other occasions, it has left many wanting and wondering of what could or will ever be.

So far, the Hurricanes have produced mixed results during their first 12 games into the 2013-2014 NHL season as they currently sit tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 4-5-3 record.

To some, this isn’t be too concerning – it’s still early in the season.

To numerous others who have read this script before, these results coupled with significant injuries to goaltenders Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, along with forwards Jeff Skinner and Radek Dvorak, are alarming.

The resultant bells and sirens ring louder and louder as each day passes and fewer wins are tallied.

As the saying goes, ‘offense sells tickets, defense wins games’.

It seems right at this moment, Carolina is not doing much of either.

The Carolina Hurricanes projected top scorers are not scoring enough goals, or at least not as many as they should and need to.

The Hurricanes’ top line of Eric Staal (15 SOG), Alexander Semin (12 SOG), and Jiri Tlusty (11 SOG) has produced a total of four goals in the team’s last five games.

They’re shooting, but are getting blocked or missing the net.

When they shoot on net, they’re getting stopped.

The numbers don’t lie and hopefully are being reviewed and thought about when trying to figure out how opposing teams are shutting this trio down.

During the most recent five games, Eric Staal has had two shots blocked while nine other attempts have missed the net.

Semin has had eight shots blocked and missed on nine others, while Tlusty has had one shot blocked and two others have not reached the net.

If this is all the top line has to offer, then the focus on the defense may be a little overbearing because as much as you need to defend, you must equally attack and score.

It seems that being tough to play against and competing hard is not a unique trait to possess anymore.

It’s a given that every team will accomplish those objectives in one form or another in this league, but scoring more goals than the opponent is the ultimate success indicator, and the one that will propel a team into playoff contention.

As much as goaltender Justin Peters will work as hard as he can to keep his team in the game in his end of the rink against Tampa, it will help if Staal, Semin, and Tlusty lead the team to do the same at the other end.

Hockey is a simple game – just score more goals than the other team.

If that happens, then the selling tickets part of the equation will come as well.

For now, that’s a discussion best left for another day.

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