Is it Jordan Staal’s time?

Is it Jordan Staal’s time?

With anticipation, Canes fans are waiting for the return of Jordan Staal who has been out since early December (he did return on December 20 and 22 before shutting it down again). He practiced in a regular contact jersey on Monday which suggested he was close to return and might even play in Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. But another game has passed, and we are still waiting. When Staal returns, he will have missed more than 30 games, and the team will have played its best hockey without him. For some, that might suggest that he is expendable or not needed. No doubt, the team’s extended winning run without him suggests it can survive without him in the lineup. But that is not the same as saying that the team is better off without him. I actually think the exact opposite is true. Despite continuing to find a way to win, the team is fighting it a bit right now and especially in games like Thursday could use Staal’s presence to calm things down for his shift and often the one that follows too. When Staal does return, I will be watching him closely. I think timing could not be more perfect for him to make a huge play as a leader of the team. The team is still winning, but entering the final quarter of the season could use a jolt right about now to find a higher gear and keep pushing upward. On the one hand, the team’s success affords Staal the chance to quietly slide back into the lineup, take a slightly lesser role and...
Gm61 @Fla: Canes ride HUGE game by Justin Williams to 4-3 win over the Panthers

Gm61 @Fla: Canes ride HUGE game by Justin Williams to 4-3 win over the Panthers

Bringing back memories of the legendary Jeff O’Neill black eye game against Toronto in the 2002 NHL Playoffs, Justin Williams scored a goal off his face to open scoring and went on to have a huge game in the Hurricanes 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers. Not too long ago, I retweeted a post that showed the Hurricanes at the bottom of the NHL at 0-17-3 when trailing after two periods. Tuesday’s win marked the second time that the ‘just find a way’ Canes came from behind to win i the third period. Coupled with a Penguins loss and an idle night for the Blue Jackets, the win propelled the Hurricanes back into playoff position at a point above the Blue Jackets who have two games in hand and a point below the Penguins who have played the same number of games. Other than just winning and being in the thick of the playoff chase now into late February, one theme rises to the top for me right now. I absolutely love this version of @NHLCanes that can do only a handful of things right in imperfect games and manage to convert that into a win. Complete opposite of years past. #TakeWarning — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) February 22, 2019 After years of suffering through “but we out-shot them”, “we were beaten by a hot goalie”, “if it wasn’t for that one play”, etc. in losses that seemingly could have deserved better, the Hurricanes right now just seem to find a way to win whenever given the chance. And that is refreshing. Like many other recent wins, Tuesday’s had...
‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm61 @Fla: Canes aim to rebound against the Panthers

‘What I’m Watching’ — Gm61 @Fla: Canes aim to rebound against the Panthers

After a loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday, the Hurricanes will look to rebound quickly against the Florida Panthers on Thursday. The team was not going to win out, so Tuesday’s loss is not debilitating. But at the same time, with a two-point deficit (adjusted for games played), the margin for error is small, and an extended losing streak would leave minimal time to recover and likely doom the currently alive playoff hopes. Best is to rebound quickly, pick up a win Thursday and continue what has been a good run since the beginning of 2019. The opponent is a Florida Panthers team that like the Rangers would need a massive surge to play back into playoff contention. But the Rangers loss shows very clearly that there are no gimmes against his type of team. And Florida’s three consecutive wins against Calgary, Montreal and Buffalo shows the same. On the Hurricanes side, the team has been successful and productive in terms of winning games of late, but past the goalies who have been somewhere between solid and utterly phenomenal, the team is sputtering a bit. What a time to be alive when the Hurricanes are struggling a bit but are 6-2 in their last eight games because of goaltending. But having a goalie stand on his head each and every night to keep winning is not sustainable, so at some point, the Hurricanes need find a second wind, a higher gear or whatever else to propel them into and through March. My watch points for Thursday’s game follow.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus...
Carolina Hurricanes 2019 NHL trade deadline — Deals I would do

Carolina Hurricanes 2019 NHL trade deadline — Deals I would do

I have written about the approaching 2019 NHL trade deadline sporadically over the past few weeks. If you missed those articles, you can find them here: On February 7, I offered a few “quick hitters’ on the trade deadline. On February 12, I wrote an article on “big game hunting” that offered a couple possible higher-end targets. On February 14, I made a case for trading Justin Faulk. And on February 19, I asked if the Hurricanes could become a 2019 NHL trade deadline buyer.   Most likely scenario Before venturing into the fun but less likely scenario for the upcoming trade deadline, let me set the baseline for expectations. Most likely is that the Hurricanes do nothing. The blue line is a strength as is, and Haydn Fleury is capable #7 depth. The goaltending has been a strength. Though there are questions to be answered this summer, the duo in place is playing well at the right time and not in need of upgrade for the rest of the 2018-19 season. I do think the Hurricanes could use another top 6 forward, ideally a second-line center, but I doubt the Hurricanes will play in the pricey rental market to do so. And with Jordan Staal returning and the bottom half of the forward group generally playing well, I do not think the Hurricanes can significantly improve by adding a depth forward to the mix. Jordan Staal is nearing return from injury after being out of the lineup for an extended period of time. That makes one significant addition to the roster. And if the team decides to keep...
Carolina Hurricanes random notes — Dougie Hamilton, Andrei Svechnikov, Justin Williams and Jordan Staal

Carolina Hurricanes random notes — Dougie Hamilton, Andrei Svechnikov, Justin Williams and Jordan Staal

Today’s Daily Cup of Joe features a random set of notes that have not made it into other articles recently.   Dougie Hamilton After a slow start in a Carolina Hurricanes uniform, I really like Hamilton’s game right now. He is a bit of a rover with a risk component to his game, but he participates as a fourth forward on offense as well as any defenseman the Canes have had. What jumps out at me is that Hamilton is not so much the type who only generates offense with the puck on his stick. Much of what Hamilton does is more exploiting open areas on the ice off the rush or in the offensive zone. Though there is some risk in his style of play, his ability to pick spots is generally pretty good.   Andrei Svechnikov It has been in an understated way, but I like the way Andrei Svechnikov has been playing the past couple games. He has regularly been trying to beat defenders at the offensive blue line and has had decent success doing so. He also seems to be making necessary adjustments in terms of not lazily using his stick to defend. Svechnikov had 8 minor penalties in 12 games in January. Through 10 games in Febuary, he has only two minor penalties. Throw in an assist in each of the past two games, and one can hope that he is catching his second wind just in time.   Justin Williams Williams’ play early in the season was hit or miss. He made plays, but he also seemed to struggle with pace in transition...