The news of Bobby Sanguinetti being called up has a lot of people talking about the future of Carolina's defense corps and how bright it is. With young players like Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy, Brian Dumoulin, Mark Alt, Danny Biega and Sanguinetti in the system, there is a reason to be excited and we've seen Faulk step in and contribute immediately. However, it will be awhile before some of the other prospects start making an impact and if Carolina wants to become a competitive team again, their defensive play is going to need a ton of help. They are last in the NHL in shots allowed at even strength and are a bottom-10 team on the penalty kill.
In my latest weekly report, I made a note saying that this team was giving up too many chances on a nightly basis and they reached a new low last week by surrendering 77 scoring chances over four games. You can't give up over 20 scoring chances per night and expect to be a winning team, so defense has to be somewhat of a priority for the Hurricanes over the next couple of years. Adding a scoring winger would be nice, but I feel that Carolina's defense really needs to be addressed with this rebuild. I've discussed goaltender Cam Ward and how his inconsistency has been a reason why Carolina is in the spot they are right now. The team's poor defensive play is a reason why Ward is depended on so much and why the Canes have lived and died by his performance this year. Addressing this need can go a long way.
When I say "defensively play," I do not mean that the defense corps needs to overhauled because I do not think the play from our blue-liners has been horrendous this year. More times than not, the defensemen are put into bad situations due to the forwards refusing to back-check or commit to playing in the defensive zone. It has led to some odd-man rushes and catastrophic breakdowns that turned into goals for the opposing team. Both goals Tampa Bay scored on Saturday night are examples of what I am trying to explain.
Going by what I see, I believe that the forwards are more of a problem with the Hurricanes poor defensive play than the blue-liners themselves, but part of the fun of being a statistician is testing hypotheses like the one I just came up with. Is the Hurricanes poor defensive play mostly due to the forwards not playing a strong two-way game or is it the fault of the blue-liners? It would be nice to know this now so we know what holes to fill over the off-season and whether or not bringing in another defenseman is a need. We'll start examining this after the jump.