RALEIGH, N.C. – The Carolina Hurricanes are currently on a streak, and not a good one.
After falling 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at Le Centre Bell on Tuesday, Carolina enters a two-game home stand that begins on Thursday against another Original Six member, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Hurricanes’ present situation, a season-long, six-game losing streak that has resulted in six total goals scored – yes, one per game – does not bode well compared to what the past has brought against the Leafs.
Carolina (8-19-3) has won six of the last seven meetings with Toronto (19-9-3) at PNC Arena, and has scored 27 goals in those six victories.
That’s an average of 4.5 goals per game – four or five goals scored per game – depending on your perspective of rounding up or down.
The Hurricanes have scored four or more goals in 11 of the last 22 games played against Toronto and are 10-1-0 in those games.
Thus, let’s just use four goals as the water mark for offensive progress.
Now what is the chance of Carolina scoring four goals against the Leafs, considering what’s happened recently as the team’s muted silence offensively has now become increasingly deafening and painful to endure for those watching them?
Will the towels wrapped around the blades of the players’ sticks finally come off and see the puck have enough velocity and rotation to come off the curved surface to beat the selected Leafs netminder du jour?
These are just a few questions out of a handful of qualitative inquiries out there that really can’t provide any answer to those that seek them.
Why? How come? What is wrong?
The Hurricanes’ solution to their troubles is based on a simple mathematical equation.
Though they are not getting shut out, they’re not scoring more goals than the teams they’re playing against.
That means losing games, many games in succession, and not winning.
No study of rocket science here is required.
Focusing on defense is what Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters continues to preach for this team, one that now has not only limited itself to one goal scored per game during this current slide, but has also allowed an average of three goals against per game.
It’s simple Canes math, right?
Spot the opposing team three goals off the top, even before the puck drops.
Playing sound defense or not is still getting this team the same result every night it seems – at least three pucks behind Ward or Khudobin and a resultant loss.
Thus, instead get your top line scorers to not worry about defense and focus on what they’re paid to do – score goals.
Who those ‘scorers’ are right now is up for debate, but start from the top of the salary chart and work your way down – it’s the way the team has been structured anyway.
Work with that and just accept it.
They’ll figure it out from there.
Let the guys play and free wheel on the ice and let the reins loose for a little while.
Show the fans in attendance a glimmer of hope that snipers like Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, and even Jiri Tlusty will score at will when they find their comfort zone and be allowed to score goals and have fun doing it.
You need a combination of at least two of these guys to get the job done every game.
Four goals – that’s all it takes to win with three goals scored against.
Believe it or not, that will probably do the trick against the Leafs.
The numbers don’t lie.
It’s simple Canes math.