Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Defensive Depression May Hinder Forceful Forwards

With all their acquisitions this summer, the Carolina Hurricanes are looking pretty decent when it comes to what they look forward to when it comes to the 2012-13 season. With the signing of Alex Semin, the trade for Jordan Staal, and the extension given to Jeff Skinner; they have their ducks lined up in a row for this year and beyond. Add those names to Eric Staal, Jussi Jokinen, and Tuomo Ruutu; the Hurricanes are looking pretty solid up front.

One problem, while the ability to score is nice-- the ability to stop the other team for scoring is very nice. That's something that the Hurricanes may be missing, which seems obvious to many people who have looked at the Canes roster. 

Looking at the top-four for the Canes defense, it doesn't really strike too much fear into the hearts of many teams with a decent offense. Not to say that Jamie McBain, Joni Pitkanen, Tim Gleason, and Justin Faulk aren't up to the task of being a huge surprise this coming season-- but I don't believe that the four of them (as well as a hidden Joe Corvo lurking) will compliment the offensive advances that the Hurricanes have tried to make this summer. Maybe Jay Harrison will help make the group of six a little more well-rounded, but it's....doubtful at best. 

While the likes of Ryan Murphy, M-A Gragnani, Bobby Sanguinetti, and Austin Levi coming up through the pipeline, the future could look a little brighter should those for be able to be convinced to stick around for the long haul, but if the Canes cannot groom younger defensemen-- signing the likes of Staal and Skinner for the long term may be putting the cart before the horse in hoping this will make some kind of contender for the next decade or so. 

Yet, in the present time, should the defense of the Hurricanes falter-- the onus will fall on Cam Ward. Despite his save percentage and GAA not showing it; Ward had the second most shots against (2,143) saves (1,951), but gave up the second most goals (182) in the NHL last season, where he played the 5th most games of all the NHL goalie last season at 68. He played a lot of games, so the stats will be up there, but he's almost the kind of guy who had the same knocks against him that M-A Fleury; a good, but not great goalie. 

Will Ward steal a game here and there?? Sure, and maybe with some goal support and with defensive help, it could be a lot more this season than in season's past-- but odds are he won't be able to do that night-in and night-out on his own. Ward does have a Cup ring and he is a guy who can bounce back from an off-year and can be very streaky-- but is there a point where he burns out from facing too many shots and being overplayed?? Justin Peters has a lot of talent, but I don't know if he's reliable enough to get more starts as the season wears on. 

The front-end for the Canes will be solid. Even if there's times where they slump a little-- the potential is pretty scary if they can hit on all cylinders for 55 or more games this season. The biggest thing is the back-end of the roster and if they can stop the puck and not make it the old-style, firewagon hockey that the 1980s used to have. While it'd be great for attention on the Canes games, the Canes fans may have years taken off their life for every 6-5 game that is being played. 

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