For better or worse, the Carolina Hurricanes’ core players are locked up for the foreseeable future. Even so, there’s at least one figure in the franchise who has a lot to prove next season: head coach Kirk Muller.*
So far, the results haven’t been particularly promising, but let’s not forget that Muller hasn’t really received a full season to prove himself just yet.
Sure, he was in place in 2013, but that was just a 48-game campaign with virtually no training camp. Muller took over the Hurricanes gig during the 2011-12 season, so this represents his first opportunity to have a traditional training camp and generally install things more naturally.
Even so, it’s a challenging situation, as you can see from Hurricanes Day at PHT.
Muller must keep an expensive group of big-money players motivated and focused, even though most of them enjoy the comfort of long-term deals.
Cam Ward hopes to bounce back, but if Anton Khudobin is more than just a product of playing behind Zdeno Chara in Boston, then Muller needs to give his backup a nice amount of reps. Managing goalie duos is an underrated challenge for head coaches.
Finding some way to make the team’s inefficient special teams units more efficient would provide a greater margin of error.
He faces the challenge of the newly formed Metropolitan Division, which should almost certainly provide tougher competition than the often-putrid Southeast Division.
It won’t be easy, but at least Muller will get to do things his way in 2013-14. One can only guess how many – if any – more chances he’ll receive if it doesn’t work out next season, though.
* – At least since it seems like GM Jim Rutherford is approaching a Darcy Regier-level of job security.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.
Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.
With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.
Trevor Daley, traded to Blackhawks for Sharp & Johns and to #Pens for Scuderi (who was flipped to LA for Ehrhoff) played 28:41 in G4 W.