After Game 10, I did a brief overview of the Hurricanes season up until that point and determined that the Hurricanes should be in good shape for the rest of the year. There were plenty of reasons to be confident, the team was crushing their competition at even strength, had two good scoring lines and were just finishing up a road trip where they went 4-1-1 against Atlantic & Northeast Division teams. Since then, the Hurricanes have suffered a barrage of injuries, losing five players in the span of less than a week and the team seems to have fallen apart. The Canes have won only two of their last six games since the road trip and have looked pretty lifeless in almost all of their last five games.Three of those losses coming against Southeast Division opponents, who they are battling for points with right now.
It's pretty easy for some to point to injuries as the reason for the Hurricanes recent struggles and it's a justifiable excuse. Injuries are tough to overcome and it's even tougher when three of those players are defensemen who regularly log big minutes. Not having Jeff Skinner is obviously a big loss too and they also lost a depth forward in Tim Brent, who is a fourth liner but plays often on both special team units. It also doesn't help that the lineup has changed basically every night, as the Canes have used 22 different skaters in the last week alone and at least nine or ten of these players started this season outside of the NHL. In addition to that, a good few of the players from the AHL are playing some pretty big minutes, too and there is only so much one can expect from this roster the way it is constructed right now.
At the same time, injuries are part of the game and every team has to deal with them. The Ottawa Senators lost their two best players and seem to have no problem with at least staying competitive in most of their games. Carolina probably isn't going to win many games with their defense corps consisting of only one proven top-four player right now, but this team has struggled to be even competitive lately. I try to stay away from questioning effort and compete level since I really don't know what goes on inside the player's heads but for the last three games, this team had a tendency to come out flat while the game is on the line and that's concerning. Take the Tampa Bay game for instance, the Canes were competitive in the first two periods and were down only 1-0 heading into the third. They came out flat, were outshot 13-2 and let Tampa run away with it. The same thing happened against Washington after the first period and it nearly happened once more against the Islanders before team mounted a comeback.
I really think it's best to stay rational in this situation since this is only five bad games with a depleted roster. Not to mention that the division still appears to be up for grabs since no one else the Southeast has yet to take control of things yet and the Hurricanes still have 13 divisional games left. Carolina is lucky to be in the position where they are now and the guys on IR are going to come back eventually but even if/when those players return, Carolina needs to get more out of some of the guys currently on the roster, namely their top players.