Building a lineup from former Canes

Building a lineup from former Canes

On Friday night, the Hurricanes will face the New York Rangers for the first time during the 2021-22 NHL season. That game will mark the first game in Raleigh for former Canes prospect Adam Fox who has since become one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL and arguably the best offensively. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a shot at building the best team possible from former Canes.   Goalie The goalie position is one where the Hurricanes really do not have any regrets right now with Frederik Andersen having a strong year as a true #1. But in building a tandem from former Canes, there are recent options. Petr Mrazek has yet to really launch in Toronto having started only four games after an early season injury. Alex Nedeljkovic is having a respectable season in Detroit with winning record, a 2.69 goals against average and .918 save percentage. And James Reimer continues to cheat father time having a solid year in San Jose with a 12-7-1 record and a 2.67 goals against average and .918 save percentage that are nearly identical to Nedeljkovic’s numbers. Depending on if your preference is youth, career performance or the here and now of the 2021-22 season, any two of the three could be options. Reaching back a bit farther, Anton Khudobin has performed well including a deep playoff run since leaving the Hurricanes. My selection: If forced to pick one, I would take Petr Mrazek by a slight margin over Anton Khudobin counting on a rebound once he gets up and going in Toronto.   Forward The volume of options...
Ranking Canes most irreplaceable players

Ranking Canes most irreplaceable players

Recently watching the Canes defense with and without Jaccob Slavin in the lineup was eye opening. No doubt, there is an element of the randomness of NHL teams from game to game that is a part of it, but there is also an element of the Hurricanes being a significantly better team with Slavin on the ice. He eats up so many minutes against the other teams’ best players and makes it look easy nearly every shift. That adds a top end player, but there is also a boost that he gives his defense partner that makes him better too. In that vein, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers one opinion on making a short, ranked list of irreplaceable Canes players:   1) Jaccob Slavin Partly because he is anchoring the top 4 pairing that needs a newcomer to fill Dougie Hamilton’s big shoes, Slavin ranks first for me. He leads the team in ice time by nearly two minutes over Brett Pesce and has shown the ability to play nearly half of a regulation game pushing up to 27-28 minutes when needed in a pinch. In general, I think having a solid top 4 defensively will be critical to post-season success, and Slavin is the top dog in that regard.   2) Brett Pesce Sticking with the defense theme, I would rank Brett Pesce as second most irreplaceable. I think there is a drop off in after Slavin and Pesce such that they both are critical to making one of the top two pairings work. Though most Canes fans appreciate him appropriately, I think Pesce is still underrated...
Measuring sticks

Measuring sticks

There is not necessarily a carry over from regular season to the playoffs, so any and all predictions based on regular season results are subject to be quickly overturned in the playoffs. But now approaching the midway point of the 2021-22 NHL season, we are reaching the point where many good teams have worked through any early kinks and are beginning to round into form for the stretch run and playoffs. As such, match ups against top teams this time of year can serve as decent measuring sticks for where the Carolina Hurricanes are in terms of also building toward peak form. How the Hurricanes are faring in these measuring stick type games is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   Florida Panthers — 4-3 overtime loss on January 8 The Panthers lost 5-1 to the Canucks on Tuesday night but still have a good claim to being the best team in the NHL right now. Since a COVID-induced break in late December and prior to Tuesday’s loss, the Panthers were 8-0-1 and had outscored opponents by a whopping 54-24 margin which makes for an average of six goals scored per game. The Hurricanes caught the Panthers in the second half of a back-to-back after a week layoff due to a COVID cancellation which was not ideal. The Hurricanes also had to start third goalie Alex Lyon. But with that less than perfect situation, the Hurricanes managed to push the game to overtime before losing 4-3. The Hurricanes started really slow but played their way back into the game as it progressed. I would give the edge...
Room for improvement

Room for improvement

As measured by points per game which adjusts for the differences in games played because of the COVID cancellation randomness, the Carolina Hurricanes are second in the entire NHL barely behind the Florida Panthers and on pace for an impressive 122 points in the standings. So just continuing at the current pace would be perfectly acceptable and would net home ice advantage in any playoff series except a possible Eastern Conference Finals match up against the Panthers. Despite the Canes’ success approaching the midway point of the season, there is still room for improvement. That is the subject of today’s Daily Cup of Joe.   Goaltending Even in shooting for the moon, I am not sure one could really ask for more from the team’s netminders. Frederik Andersen would be a mid-season Vezina candidate second only to Igor Shesterkin in goals against average and fourth in save percentage. In addition to top line statistics, he has shown a knack for making big saves when needed and holding the fort when the team has struggled. Antti Raanta has been a competent #2 goalie, and Alex Lyon has a 1-0-1 mark that suggests he can be counted on as an NHL-capable #3 if needed. Even with the aim of seeking improvement despite great results, I really do not think one could ask for more from the goalies.   Forwards The strength of the Hurricanes forward group has been its ability to score in bursts with different sources on many nights. If it carries into the playoffs, that bodes well for being able to muster enough sources of offense to win on...
Random notes: Debacle versus Columbus and goal scoring from the wing

Random notes: Debacle versus Columbus and goal scoring from the wing

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe starts with a few quick thoughts on the ugly 6-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday and then offers up a few other random thoughts that are a bit more positive.   Thursday’s debacle In general, I think Thursday’s 6-0 loss is just one that you flush quickly and work hard to put behind you with a better effort and a win on Saturday. The weird schedule that just included another 6-day layoff despite traveling to play a game and limited practices was bound to catch up to the team and did in a rough way. Couple that with a Columbus team that wanted to exact revenge after the humiliating Canes win in Columbus last week, and you had a perfect storm. The game was actually a bit similar to last Friday’s game against the Flames. The Hurricanes similarly came out flat but ultimately found their footing in time and won the game. The Hurricanes did push back in the second period but were not rewarded with a goal at which point things went south. As stated above, I would mostly just write this one off, but the one thing that I would watch closely as the season proceeds is how the blue line looks without Jaccob Slavin in the lineup . I finished yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe by saying: In addition, I think Slavin is required to make that second top 4 pairing go, so I question whether the Canes could survive needing to bump everyone up a slot in the event of a playoff-time injury to Slavin, Pesce or Skjei. I...