Slotting the Carolina Hurricanes forwards

Slotting the Carolina Hurricanes forwards

I actually wrote this initially last week but held off on finishing/posting it until after a Hurricanes win, so it would hopefully be read more as a straightforward opinion on the team’s forward personnel and not as an indictment of them. The Hurricanes scoring woes are well-documented. The team is currently 28th in the NHL with 2.58 goals per game. I would not say that the rank is necessarily surprising. The team parted ways with Jeff Skinner and the 25-35 goals he has provided in recent years. When Skinner returned only futures and Faulk stayed, the Hurricanes more or less tried to replace Jeff Skinner’s scoring with hoped for scoring from players who had yet to score an NHL goal. Martin Necas was deemed ready to produce in the NHL as was 2018 first-round draft pick Andrei Svechnikov. When Necas struggled early and was sent to the AHL, and Svechnikov seemed destined for more of a gradual rise, the team was suddenly chock full of depth scoring but minus enough difference-making offensive catalysts. Below is my categorization of the Hurricanes forward group. Important to note is that this is based on the here and now and not projections that look forward.   True offensive difference-makers Sebastian Aho: Whether at wing or at forward, I think it is fair to say that Aho has established himself as a top line scoring forward. He seems destined for a point per game in 2018-19. Important to note is that I do not see any other player on the roster as currently being a true difference-maker.   Complementary top 6 scoring forwards Teuvo...
Gm32 Vs. Ari: Canes ride Petr Mrazek shutout to much-needed win over Arizona

Gm32 Vs. Ari: Canes ride Petr Mrazek shutout to much-needed win over Arizona

For the second consecutive week, the Hurricanes entered the final game of the week flailing a bit and needing a win to make something from a tough week. Last week, the Hurricanes won on Friday to salvage two points from a three-game road trip. This week, the Hurricanes entered with an 0-2-1 mark and needing a win to avoid giving up three games to hockey .500. And just like last week, the Hurricanes obtained the win that they desperately needed to stop the bleeding so to speak and start the next week on a higher note. The first period of the 1pm start had a bit of a pedestrian pace at the outset with neither team really gaining an advantage early. The Hurricanes seemed to wake up first when Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho had two quick scoring chances with Aho being robbed of a goal on the second by the goalie. Then the Hurricanes had a power play that netted a couple pretty good scoring chances but still no goal. Arizona woke up late in the first period and tested Petr Mrazek a couple times late in the period but was also unable to score. The period with ebbs and flows ended with the score still tied at 0-0. The second period dialed up the pace by a notch and even added a bit of animosity. Arizona was getting the better of the period and a lackluster Canes power play did not help. But then the Hurricanes struck first when Phil Di Giuseppe set a perfect screen on a Calvin de Haan shot. The result was a juicy...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm32 Vs. Ari: Canes try to stop bleeding against the Coyotes

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm32 Vs. Ari: Canes try to stop bleeding against the Coyotes

Canes fans who attended (or watched on television) Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals encountered yet another variety of disappointing. After storming out to a 4-1 lead early in the second period, Canes fans then had to witness the team give up three goals before the period was up to blow the lead and then a disheartening overtime and shootout before losing. As I said in my game recap, picking up a point against the Stanley Cup champions is actually not a horrible outcome, but the context around it makes it feel so. Next up is a Sunday matinee against the Arizona Coyotes. After three consecutive losses this week to start a home-heavy stretch of schedule, the Hurricanes enter the game really just needing any kind of win. My watch points for Sunday’s game follow…   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Arizona Coyotes 1) More of the same in the first period After consecutive lackluster first periods in losses, the Hurricanes successfully found the ignition switch when the puck dropped for the opening face-off on Friday. That part of Friday’s game is definitely worth keeping. With the odd start time and the current negative trend, I will be watching on Sunday to see if the Hurricanes can muster another strong start to get off on the right foot.   2) Young leadership Despite the outcome, Sebastian Aho had a huge game on Friday with four points. Jaccob Slavin also played incredibly well. The team needs leadership and strong efforts from many, but I think the next leg up will be led by the young guns....
Gm31 Vs. Was: Canes claim only OTL point in disappointing shootout loss to the Capitals

Gm31 Vs. Was: Canes claim only OTL point in disappointing shootout loss to the Capitals

If you can put aside the context leading up to the game and some of the details within the game, capturing an OTL point with your #3 goalie in net against a Stanley Cup champion that came in playing well is a decent even if imperfect result. But context does matter. The fact that the Hurricanes came in with two straight losses and needing a win cannot be ignored. And the fact that the Hurricanes had a 4-1 lead in the middle of the game and let it get away in a hurry does matter. And the fact that the Hurricanes are still stuck at hockey .500 also matters. Addressing the first point in my game preview, unlike the other two losses this week, the Hurricanes arrived on time to play a strong first period. Jordan Martinook was actually most noticeable to me early on even if he was only Robin to Aho’s Batman. Martinook scored on the first shift when he gloved down a pass and quickly put it behind Braden Holtby to get the Hurricanes off to a good start. Next the Alexander Ovechkin show kicked off when he beat a drifting Scott Darling from his spot right at the left face-off circle. Next Teravainen made a good play when Washington bobbled a puck on the power play. He got it to Aho for a breakaway who went to his patented move making a subtle shift toward his backhand and then exploiting the goalie’s five hole he had opened up. The Hurricanes would be rewarded for their stronger start with a 2-1 lead. Then in the second...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm31 Vs. Was: Canes again try to right the ship versus Cup champ Capitals

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm31 Vs. Was: Canes again try to right the ship versus Cup champ Capitals

Earlier this week, my Daily Cup of Joe suggested that the upcoming stretch of six games with five of those at home could be ‘pivotal’ for the Canes 2018-19 season.itI followed up by harping on the same in my game preview for Tuesday’s match up against the Leafs to kick off the six-game run. With two losses since then, the articles now read like a prediction of possible impending doom. Tonight in Raleigh, the Hurricanes get another chance to try to get the train back on the tracks. The task has become an all too familiar one over the past few weeks with the team struggling to at least tread water and not go under. The opponent is another challenging on in the defending champion Washington Capitals. After a mediocre start the Capitals have risen to the top of the Metropolitan Division led by a massive scoring surge by Alexander Ovechkin. The 2018-19 totals are so much that people are talking about what it takes for Ovechkin to catch and overtake Wayne Gretzky. The team in total comes in having won 10 out of its last 12. But the focus for the Hurricanes needs to be inward right now. Justin Williams used the term ‘middling’ after the disappointing home loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Right now, it feels like a reach for this team just to keep its head above water, and maybe right now that needs to be the goal. Certainly, the team will need to find a winning streak at some point, but mid-December has been very much about not drowning. With Staal out and...