Face-offs are killing the Carolina Hurricanes. And I mean killing.
With a league worst face-off win percentage of 40.3 percent and a penalty kill tied for third to last in the NHL at 76.8 percent something must change in order for the Hurricanes to win draws...and games.
Now, having gone 3-4-3 in their last 10 games, with many goals by the opposition coming off rebounds that Carolina's defense and forwards are failing to clear, it seems as though the usual (but opposite) strategies of Cam Ward either holding onto the puck for a face-off or knocking a rebound out to his defense are more of "which poison should I take?" instead of "what's my best decision?"
With elite face-off man Rod Brind'Amour now retired, Carolina has lost its go-to man for critical draws; but, why do they not go to "Brindy" to get the Hurricanes centers to change their strategies for face-offs. For example, if you can find close-up videos of either Brind'Amour or Eric Staal taking a draw, you will see the completely contrasting strategies that the former captain and current captain of the Hurricanes took to the face-off dot.
Brind'Amour, who proved his worth to the Hurricanes' organization as a two-way forward, went to the face-off dot with his eyes on the puck from the moment that it left the linesman's hand until it hit the ice. He put both hands on his stick facing the same direction for the draw, and then quickly changed the positioning on the stick after it was either won or lost.
Staal, on the other hand, holds his stick just like he is going to shoot the puck: one hand facing towards him, the other facing away.
He watches where the puck is going to be dropped, not the puck itself; more often than not he gets caught guessing when the puck is going to be dropped and ultimately either loses the draw or gets kicked out of the face-off circle. He might as well go back to the wing and let someone else take a face-off, someone who can actually win one. That is, if Carolina had a top nine forward who could win face-offs consistently.
Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they don't have that option.
The Carolina Hurricanes got Ryan Carter from Anaheim; but, come on, it's Ryan Carter, a fourth-line center who doesn't even play ten minutes of a game. The Hurricanes need to figure out how to get better on the draw. Something must change from the players' standpoint, because Jim Rutherford is as sure as hell not going to get fired for the Hurricanes poor play on the ice and neither will Paul Maurice.
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