Tracking the Storm

Canes Look for Offensive Answers

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 1:25 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Look for Offensive Answers
It may not seem like it, but over the last week, the Hurricanes have been generating more offense than they have all season.

In the last five games, the Hurricanes have taken 179 shots on goal, which is their highest output in any five-game stretch this season. They’ve taken at least 30 shots in all of those games, peaking with a 41-shot effort last Friday night in Washington.

Paul Branecky
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Of course, that doesn’t begin to tell the story. The team has had little to show for all that pressure, scoring on just seven of those 179 shots – a percentage of just 3.9. In the same five-game set that they’ve been peppering opposing goaltenders, their goal output is actually tied for the lowest of any five consecutive games this season.

For a team desperately needing wins to get back into the playoff picture – they’ve gone 1-3-1 in those five games and will now need a solid run of wins to pass Buffalo or the New York Rangers – that’s come as a tough pill to swallow.

“At the end of the day, the energy on offense was exactly the way we want it to be and the concepts were there,” said coach Paul Maurice. “It is very frustrating for a group that’s gone a bunch of games now and put a tremendous amount of offense at the net not to have scored.”

“We’ve been much better at five-on-five than in previous games, and we’ve spent a lot more time in the offensive zone than the defensive zone as well,” said Tuomo Ruutu, who has 2 goals in the last five games, more than any other Canes player. “It’s tough to say why we’re struggling to score, but it’s not just about luck.”

Although they didn’t practice on Thursday, the Canes had a team meeting to try and find answers. There’s no question that scorers who haven’t been scoring are starting to feel the pressure mentally at a key time of the year, which may be affecting decision making at important moments. Sometimes, the Canes wait too long to take shots and miss opportunities. Other times, they shoot regardless of the situation, as evidenced by Toronto’s 32 blocks in Wednesday’s loss.

“We’re putting everything at the net all the time, which is a good idea, except there are times to control the puck, move your feet and wait for something to open up,” said Maurice. “That’s the patience that we’d like to see come into our game

“If you’ve got three guys lying down in front of you, you can’t drive it in to somebody’s pads. You’ve got to move and other people have to move around you.”

Still, identifying the right times to throw it on net and the right times to make a play has proved to be difficult.

“It’s easier said than done,” said Ruutu.

With most top players struggling to score, the Canes are hoping to find a spark from less likely sources. Chad LaRose and Brandon Sutter, a pairing at both even strength and on a new power-play unit, have combined for each of the team’s last two goals. LaRose’s first-period tally against Toronto ended a lengthy power-play drought, with Maurice saying that the group of LaRose, Sutter and Drayson Bowman will continue to get chances on the man advantage.

“They came out with some emotion and free of the tension that big players feel when the power play goes the way ours has,” said Maurice. “When we show video tomorrow … we’re going to show what their unit did and have the other units try to do the same thing. Pretty simple.”

In the meantime, the rest of the team will keep playing the game they’ve played in the last week, which, other than the inability to finish their chances, they feel has been good enough.

“In terms of quality of play, in our last four or five games we’ve played as well as maybe we have all year,” said Maurice. “We really have.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 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