Defending home ice
The Canes were 18-17-6 at PNC Arena last season, and only the New York Islanders, in the Metropolitan Division, had fewer wins (13) on home ice.
“You don’t want to be a team where people look at coming into your building as a little bit of a breather,” Canes coach Bill Peters says. “It’s got to be hard. When they come into PNC Arena to play us, they’ve got to know they’re in for a tough night, a rough night.”
The Canes were 28th in the NHL last season, converting 14.6 percent of their power plays. Only Buffalo and Florida were worse.
It’s not as if there weren’t enough opportunities. Carolina’s 281 power plays ranked ninth.
Peters says he wants a “shoot-first mentality” and the hunger to get rebounds. “We expect to have a good power play,” he says. “There’s plenty of personnel to have two good units. We want to be in the top 10.”
Peters says he wants to have three dependable scoring lines. Losing center Jordan Staal to a broken leg and Jeff Skinner to a concussion will hurt, but that goal remains the same.
The Canes had 138 five-on-five goals last season, 24th in the NHL, and were outscored 155-138. Peters believes the Canes can improve with better breakouts from the defensive zone and tougher play in the neutral zone that produces defense-to-offense transition chances and more goals.
It was a season-long problem a year ago, and baffling. The Canes continually stressed good starts, especially at home, only to come out flat too often.
Carolina was outscored 67-46 in first-period play and outshot 850-761 in the opening period last season. The Canes had a 7-20-2 record when trailing after the first period. The flip side: The Canes were 16-2-2 when leading after one. Opponents scored the first goal in games 50 times, and the Canes were 13-31-6. The math is pretty simple.
Peters said better practices and preparation should translate to better starts. That’s the plan.
The Canes aren’t the biggest team in the league (or close to it), and their biggest player, center Jordan Staal, is injured. But there needs to be a willingness to get in front of opposing goaltenders, crowd the crease, create some havoc and take away the goalie’s sight lines.
It says a lot that one of the Canes’ best at doing that last season, Nathan Gerbe, is the team’s shortest player at 5-foot-5. Gerbe needs more company this season.