Tracking the Storm

Discipline a Cause for Concern

Monday, 10.12.2009 / 3:03 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
X
Share with your Friends


Discipline a Cause for Concern
At least so far, one of the Hurricanes’ biggest strengths from last season has turned into a weakness.

Paul Branecky
Index | Archive
After leading the league in discipline with a measly 9.8 penalty minutes per game a year ago, the Canes have struggled in that area at this stage of the young season. After five games, they ranked 29th in the league as of Monday morning with an average of 24.6 minutes per contest.

Not all of that is completely fair, as the team has racked up an uncharacteristic amount of majors and misconducts, mostly in the 7-2 loss in Boston, which didn’t necessarily put them at a disadvantage. More troublesome is that the Canes lead the league in minor penalties with 39, six more than the second-placed Pittsburgh Penguins, who come to town on Wednesday.

“The occasional roughing penalty and that stuff, we live with and we’re going to kill those,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “It’s the hooks, the chops and the trips that are just carelessness with the stick.”

Penalty trouble played a big part in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay, when the Canes were whistled for seven minor infractions. Although they only gave up one power play goal thanks to a penalty kill Maurice said has “markedly, drastically improved,” the head coach believes the time spent shorthanded had a negative effect on the team’s overall game.

“We burned big minutes with our high-end guys against that power play,” he said. “We had to work way too hard to kill those minutes off and our goaltender had to make too many good saves. Then, you’re five-on-five play just doesn’t have it in the tank to get it going.”
Related Content
The Secret Weapon
Baldrick's Charity
Photos
Highlights

“I think I had [Tampa] for about three even-strength chances through 27 minutes, but they had at least 10-to-15 on their power play,” he continued. “To say the game was close … our goaltender kept that one close.”

Some of the problem could be attributed to bad luck, as the Canes have had a number of questionable calls go against them. Somehow, Sergei Samsonov has 10 penalty minutes in five games, which is the most of any Carolina player who has not recorded a five-minute major or misconduct.

“He’s completely lost any chance at the Lady Byng,” joked Maurice. “He’s had some unusual ones.”

There’s also the belief that games are traditionally called more closely at the beginning of the year than they are later in the season. Last year’s most-penalized team, the Philadelphia Flyers, finished with an average of 17.5 minutes per game, which is significantly lower than the Canes’ current clip.

“We’ve taken way too many penalties,” acknowledged defenseman Niclas Wallin. “But it’s the same thing every year. Even if you attempt to do it now they’re going to call it.”

Even with those possible explanations, Maurice still wants to see the Canes put more offensive pressure on the other team, which he thinks will help solve the problem.

“You shouldn’t be taking any penalties in the offensive zone, and you’re there because at some point you’ve had control of the puck, and that’s primary if you want to draw penalties,” he said. “We’re spending too much time on our heels in the neutral zone and the defensive zone.”

Injury update: Joni Pitkanen did not return to practice on Monday, but skated on his own earlier in the morning. Fellow Finn Jussi Jokinen also did not participate as the team continues to be extremely cautious with possible illnesses.

Sickness aside, Maurice said that Pitkanen was the only “question mark” for Wednesday’s game, and that he expected everyone else to play.

Albany update: After struggling in a season-opening 6-3 loss last week, the River Rats won by scores of 5-2 and 6-1 over the weekend. Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk each have five points through three games, while goaltender Mike Murphy made 28 saves in his first professional start.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72