The red storm in North Carolina has been downgraded to a tropical depression.
There's no need to board up that opposing net, because these guys couldn't blow down a house of cards right now.
The Carolina Hurricanes got incredible goaltending, gritty defensive play and timely offensive contributions from three lines during their surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals last spring.
Now they are getting none of the above.
Carolina was 12-7-4-3 on Dec. 3 and looked like it could again contend in the unpredictable East. But with a miserable 4-14-2-1 record in the six weeks since, the 'Canes are now just six points ahead of the Sabres and only eight points up on the Thrashers.
Fifteen losses in 21 games is usally a recipe for getting a coach fired, but Paul Maurice remains one of the best bench bosses in the game. He just has no one on the 23-man roster playing especially well right now. And as foolish as Larry Robinson and Bob Hartley losing their jobs 18 months after winning the Stanley Cup was, axing miracle-worker Maurice isn't the solution to Carolina's woes.
The organization stuck with Maurice when the team was struggling early last season and he led them on one of the most surprising postseason runs ever. A similar turnaround could transpire, but Sami Kapanen and Bates Battaglia need to remember how to play offense.
If Carolina can't put together a second-half run, a first-to-worst season isn't out of the question. Especially if Buffalo and Atlanta both continue to play well.
Kevin Weekes caught fire in the postseason and showed the potential with which he had teased four previous organizations. But other than a dominant two-week run where he carried the 'Canes at the end of the Devils series and the beginning of the Habs series, Weekes has never been anything more than an ordinary netminder.
"It's frustating," Weekes said Saturday after losing the second half of a home-and-home to the Devils. "We know the other side and we know we can and should be a lot better."
The Hurricanes have lost six straight home games, including all four games of a homestand that ended with a 2-1 loss to the Devils on Friday. Any sort of turnaround would have to start with better play at the RBC Center, where Carolina is just 8-9-5-3.
"We're not a happy hockey team in here and we're desperate," defenseman Bret Hedican said.
The road back to respectability doesn't get any easier this week for Carolina. The Blues come to Raleigh on Monday, the 'Canes travel to Washington on Wednesday, and the week ends with a home-and-home against the Panthers on Friday and Saturday.
YoungStars may be dimming Might the NHL's All-Star weekend showcase for its most talented young players have run its course after just one go-round? The lineups announced Saturday aren't nearly as scintillating as the list of 23 players who took part in last year's inaugural game.
Watching 13 goals fly past Dan Blackburn probably doesn't get Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff and Colorado head coach Tony Granato excited to know that Ryan Miller and David Aebischer will be his year's sacrificial lambs in the nets.
Maybe the Heroes of Hockey Game wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Another Roy-some mark Patrick Roy will play in his 1,000th game this week, likely on Monday against the Dallas Stars. St. Patrick surpassed Terry Sawchuk's career mark of 971 games played earlier this season to add another record to his Hall of Fame resume.
But Roy may not hold the record for as long as Sawchuk did. Assuming that Roy plays 80 games in the remaining 18 months of his contract, and that Martin Brodeur continues to average 70 games per season, Brodeur could pass Roy's mark near the end of the 2009 regular season. Only Roy, Sawchuk and Glenn Hall (906) played more than 900 games in goal, so Brodeur would need some injury-free seasons to challenge Roy's amazing feat of longevity.
N.Y. Rangers @ N.Y. Islanders -- Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST The archrival Rangers and Islanders are battling for positioning. It's called the Atlantic Division cellar. While ultra-talented New Jersey and Philadelphia may be out of reach, Pittsburgh can be caught. The Isles took the first meeting of the Battle of New York on Nov. 23, rallying with three goals in the third for a 3-1 win.
St. Louis @ Chicago -- Thursday, 8 p.m. EST The Red Wings aren't running away with the Central Division this season, as both the Blues and Blackhawks are offering a hearty challenge. The teams have split their two previous meetings so far, but this is their first tussle this season at the United Center, where the 'Hawks are an impressive 14-6-3-1.
Buffalo @ Ottawa -- Saturday, 7 p.m. EST Don't laugh, this could actually be a good game. Then again, both teams could have folded already, so maybe it won't even be played. Buffalo has been getting great goaltending and won the most recent meeting, which was dubbed the Bankruptcy Bowl since it came shortly after their financial woes were revealed.
Plus: Glen Murray Murray followed a five-game points streak by not registering a point in three games last week until Saturday, when he busted out for a goal and three assists in a 7-2 rout of the Jackets. Murray leads the Bruins with 23 goals, is second to Joe Thornton with 24 assists and second to Mike Knuble with a plus-17.
Minus: Steve Sullivan The undersized Blackhawks right wing without a bad temper ended an eight-game point drought in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Blues but hasn't lit the lamp since Jan. 2. Sullivan is on pace for just 51 points, well below his average of 66 his first three seasons in Chicago.
Plus: Bobby Holik Playing with Matthew Barnaby and Eric Lindros on a patchwork first line for the Rangers, Holik has five goals and seven assists in the past 10 games. That marks a welcome turnaround after his early-season struggles, but for $9 million a year, he should be a point-per-game player.
Minus: Jan Hrdina The Penguins would love to get more consistency from Hrdina, who has just one goal since Dec. 26. The shifty center has taken only seven shots in the past seven games, and hasn't picked up his game like Pittsburgh needs with Mario Lemieux out.
Plus: Philippe Boucher After being underappreciated on the Kings' blueline, Boucher has become a valuable member of the Stars' defensive unit. While Derian Hatcher and Darryl Sydor get more ink, Boucher is plus-7 in the past nine games and is second behind Jere Lehtinen on the team and in the league with a plus-23.
Minus: Wild's offense Other than a 5-2 win over the Canucks on Thursday, Minnesota hasn't scored more than two goals in any of its past eight games. That would help explain why the Wild are just 3-5 in that stretch. Veteran center Cliff Ronning has just one goal in the past 13 games.
Plus: Roberto Luongo Mike Keenan has always been driven nuts by goalies, but Luongo may be the most puzzling. It seems like he either gets pulled or pitches a shutout. After giving up six goals on Monday against the Devils, Luongo recorded two straight shutouts to become the first Panthers netminder to record consecutive clean slates.
"That was the nicest 500th I ever saw. Usually they are garbage goals."
"Fortunately, he only has two legs. He doesn't have anything else to hurt."
-- Thrashers general manager Don Waddell, on Byron Dafoe's injury struggles.
"I give Bertuzzi a lot of credit; he does it great. It's a great play for their coaching staff. But no matter how you look at it, it's an illegal play. That's a bull**** play. They've got to call that. It's a pick. ... They always give you the bull**** explanation. They say: 'It wasn't my call.' Well, it's someone's call."
-- Predators head coach Barry Trotz on Tuesday, after Todd Bertuzzi's game-tying third-period goal spurred the Canucks to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
"It was a terrible call, and I hope the league reviews it. I was the first in. When the refs take control of games like that, it's a problem. It's unfortunate that refs can get away with these bad calls and are still in this league."
-- Bruins captain Joe Thornton on Friday, after getting a game misconduct in a scrum with the Thrashers in the first period of his first game back after missing five with an elbow injury.
"Don Van Massenhoven is actually a pretty good ref, but the other guy [Craig Spada] is atrocious. He should think about resigning because he'll definitely get fired. It's atrocious. I've seen a lot and I've been around a long time and this guy comes stepping in and just calls dives and terrible calls. It's a joke."
-- Blues left wing Keith Tkachuk after getting whistled for four minor penalties and a gross misconduct during St. Louis' 3-2 OT loss to the Islanders on Thursday.
Marcel Hossa, LW, Canadiens When his older brother Marian scored 44 goals for the Senators in his first two NHL seasons, the Habs knew they were getting some good genes when they selected Marcel with the 16th pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. While Marian is a better skater and stickhandler, Marcel has an inch and a few pounds on big bro, not to mention a mean streak in the slot and deep in the corners. The Habs have been impressed with Marcel's all-around in the two weeks since summoning for him from the AHL, and it's unlikely he'll return to the minors.
Hossa had 19 goals and 13 assists in 37 games with Hamilton before his call-up, so his nose for the net is evident. While he is bigger than his older brother, he remains a good skater and impressive with the puck. It's just the Marian may be one of the top 10 stickhandlers in the league right now, so that's a lot to live up to. But based on the success of the brothers Hossa, scouts must be scouring the phone books in Slovakia looking for even the most distant relative.
Stars' league-best home winning percentage, having gone 15-1-3-1 in 20 games at the American Airlines Center.
Save percentage for Penguins rookie goaltender Sebastien Caron, who went 3-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average in his first week in the NHL.
Length of the Senators' team-best shutout streak (the fourth longest in modern history) compiled by Patrick Lalime, Martin Prusek and rookie Ray Emery.
Difference in dollar value of the two-way contract for Harold Druken, who has been waived three times this season and is back for a second stint with the Hurricanes who reclaimed him from the Maple Leafs on Friday.
Our latest best guess at what the postseason seeding will look like.
New Jersey Devils
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders
Each week during the season, this space will be devoted to your comments on a particular issue.
Last week's topic: Should NHL players be required to wear facial protection?
No. A hockey team wouldn't look right without some missing teeth. Brad Brooks, Arlington, Va.
Wearing a face shield should remain a personal preference. The guys know the dangers of playing without a shield. I hate to see them get hit in the face, but it should be their decision. Denise Hay, Alvarado, Texas
Leave it up to the players as to whether or not they choose to wear a half shield. When you go to a college or lower-tier game you see the increased high sticking and elbows due to the feeling of invincibility. We should teach young players to keep their hands and elbows down and maintain responsiblty of their sticks. Full face shields take fighting completely out of the game. And if you don't like fighing then take up knitting or macramé. Peter Bedford, Dunbarton, N.H.
If the guys don't want to wear a shield, then why bother force them? If they are gonna make any changes to equipment rules, they should get rid of those awful shoulder and elbow pads the guys wear now. They are made of hard plastic, and when that is combined with the seamless glass with no give, that is a bigger issue than whether a guy gets a cut on his face. The last time I checked, cuts heal a lot faster than concussions. Wayne Coristine, Grande Prairie, Alberta
I believe the NHL should start mandating the use of visors. Look at the examples of Bryan Berard when he was with Toronto, and Mattias Ohlund with Vancouver. Both young players that almost had to quit the game due to serious eye injuries. And neither player is 100 percent. I am not saying throw the cages on like it's a Junior game, but a visor should suffice. Ryan Trottier, Vancouver, British Columbia
I assume making players wear a face shield is like making people who drive wear glasses whether they need them or not. Hockey players are the toughest athletes around -- they are big boys who can make there own decisions. If they want to run around with scars and three teeth, that should be there choice. Next thing you know they will make fighting worthy of game suspension. Do we have to ruin every sport? Marc Tenebruso, New York City
Of course it should be mandatory to wear a face sheild. There are pucks flying around at over 100 mph and sticks that can come out of nowhere to clip you. The players have to put their macho images away and wear the sheild. As far as limiting visibility, it's like anything else in that they will adapt to it eventually. Just ask Bryan Berard. Drew Silvia, Middletown, R.I.
Players should definitely be required to wear facial protection. People argue that grown men should be able to make their own choices, but their choices don't just affect them. Suppose Markus Naslund were to lose an eye due to an errant high stick. Where would the Canucks be then? Vancouver has made a significant investment in Naslund to develop him to the point where he is now, and I don't think that it's fair that a team should risk losing that investment just because a player wants to show how manly he is. Ryan Stone, Ottawa, Ontario
No. Wearing a face shield will not lessen high sticking calls. Years ago no one wore a face shield and no one wore a helmet, but there were less stick infractions then because there was a general respect for each other and players would pay attention to their sticks. However, making a high-sticking infraction an automatic four-minute penalty (and a five-minute major if it draws blood) might help to lessen the infraction. Another thing is wearing the visors when you are checked will add to more facial lacerations and injuries because most players do not wear their helmets very snug on their heads. This will cause the helmet to move when the player is hit, but leads to a more comfortable fit. So it's a toss up between comfort and safety. Bryan Bardes, Linden, N.J.
Players be forced to wear protective masks? How would players ever wind up with nicknames like "Crater face", "Toothless", and "Ol' One-eye?" No. I say ban protective gear entirely and keep the flow of really cool, tough nicknames coming. Ron Manns, Rowlett, Texas
Take all the face protection off, call all high sticking as five-minute majors and let real men play a contact sport rather than the non-North American players trying to win an award for diving. TD, Detroit
This week's topic: What is your favorite part of the NHL's All-Star weekend -- the YoungStars Game, the SuperSkills Competition or the All-Star Game itself?
Click here to send us your choice, with a short (75 words or less) explanation. Brevity and humor are good; naughty words and personal attacks are not so good. And don't forget to include your name, hometown and home state/province.
Jon A. Dolezar covers the NHL for CNNSI.com. "Week at a Glance" will appear each Sunday during the regular season.
Got a comment, question or scoop for Jon? Click