Since mid-November, nearly every game recap you read mentioned that the Hurricanes "are now 2-8-1 in their last..." or something similar. Throw those figures out. The boys lost to arguably the worst team in all of hockey last night while also losing their Southeast division lead.
Everyone has their ideas as to why such a talented team is struggling so badly.
Injuries - sure the Canes have been hit hard again this season with injuries. Per The N&O:
"The Hurricanes have now lost 148 man-games to injury, on pace to exceed last season's total of 250 and approach the 2005-06 mark of 267."Coach Laviolette is correct with his "no excuses" approach to blaming injuries. Anyone remember what this team did that 05-06 season?
Goaltending - Overheard from co-blogger East of Here - Cam Ward, despite a strong start - has been referred to as a not-so-flattering "Cam Weekes". Strong sometimes, very fluky at others. However, it matters not who is in goal when the NHL's worst defense and penalty kill hang their goaltender out to dry.
Management - For all the wonderful things my boy Jimmy has done here, a killer right now are the amount of no-trade clauses within the Canes contract players. A large portion of players who come to Raleigh love living here and want to stay. Were these NTC's issued as a way to keep the players happy or a method of offering smaller figures in contract negotiations?
Complacency - This is the silver bullet, IMO. There is absolutely no excuse for a professional athlete to "take nights off". Arturs Irbe had a great finishing touch on his long career in the NHL with Carolina, backstopping the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002. Next season after that? He's paid his full NHL level contract to play in the ECHL.
This team used to live by the slogan "Whatever It Takes". Is the Arturs Irbe treatment what it will take to get this team heading in the right direction? John Grahame was put on waivers, sent to the River Rats supposedly to "set an example". He feels that it was a slap in the face. What's more important here? - hurting a players feelings or doing whatever it takes to win?