Poor depth has been the root of a lot of the Hurricanes problems this year and a major one has been finding a consistent third defense pairing. The blue line was a major concern for this team coming into the season but the third pairing wasn't supposed to be a problem. If anything, a problem last year was that the Hurricanes had "too many" third pairing guys and not enough who could play 20+ minutes a night against other team's top lines. With the additions of Andrej Sekera, Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore playing his way into the lineup, one would think that the Hurricanes had enough players to fill out a serviceable third defense pairing and they certainly did on paper.
When you think of a fifth, sixth and seventh defenseman, not much is expected of them. At most, they need to play 13-15 minutes a night and aren't going to get heavy assignments unless an injury happens. You'll see a variety of defensemen playing this role (power play/penalty kill specialist, AHL call-ups, etc.) but the expectations for them are the same. They just need to not get destroyed against other team's depth lines in the 13-15 minutes they are out there. Jaroslav Spacek did this well during his brief time with the Canes and so did Jay Harrison for a couple of years before he was elevated to a bigger role. Between the players listed along with Tim Gleason, Jay Harrison, Ryan Murphy and Mike Komisarek, the Hurricanes had enough players who could fill this role and be at least okay at it, but that hasn't been the case at all.
Just about every combination the Hurricanes have tried on the third pairing this year has been destroyed at even strength and it's very frustrating to see. The team's bad forward depth probably contributes to this problem, seeing how the third and fourth lines are usually out there along with the third defense pairing, but the play of the defensemen has also been a problem. Both Gleason & Harrison have seen their performances decline this year and the former was just traded while Ryan Murphy has struggled and Mike Komisarek has played an extremely limited role.
The Canes need their depth to be better and fixing the third defense pairing will go a long way towards helping that. We'll talk about some possible solutions after the jump.no comments