With a perfect 3-0 mark this week in 3 fun home wins, the Hurricanes have officially declared their intention to compete for a 2017 NHL playoff spot. Adjusted for games played, as we wake up for our morning coffee on Sunday, January 15, the Carolina Hurricanes are sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
As we speak, Canes and Coffee is working to form a team to scout Columbus, Ohio (would be current Canes playoff match up) for travel routes, hotels and eateries for a mid-April visit. Identifying the viability of tailgating options will of course be included as well. Of course, the real fun happens when playoff hockey and the warm weather tailgating that goes with it makes a triumphant return to PNC Arena in Raleigh, but for those who are just too anxious after 8 years, Columbus, Ohio suddenly is the highest probability location for the Hurricanes next playoff game.
With playoff hopes dancing in the background, here is a collection of Hurricanes hockey links to great reading from around the internet.
Jeff Skinner getting noticed
Riding a scoring surge this week, Jeff Skinner entered Saturday’s game on pace for 34 goals and 70 points. Canes fans appreciated what he did in 2015-15 and also his 2016-17 season not just in terms of scoring volume but also stepping up when the team most needed it, but the broader hockey world is also starting to take note.
Adam Gretz from NBC Sports took notice of Jeff Skinner somewhat quietly rising up in this article.
On January 4, Jared Clinton from The Hockey News selected Jeff Skinner as the Hurricanes’ representative for the NHL All-Star Game in this article. (Justin Faulk was obviously selected this week, but Skinner’s name bubbling up regularly in this conversation says a lot about his game in 2016-17.)
I wrote an article entitled “The maturation of Jeff Skinner” during the holidays that offered a recap of his development over 6+ years in the NHL.
Chase Bass from Make-A-Wish Foundation has special day on Thursday
Sandwiched between 3 home games for the week, Thursday was an absolutely wonderful feel-good off day at PNC Arena. The highlight of it was the day for Chase Bass who was generous enough to share his Make-A-Wish day with our Hurricanes hockey community.
Heather Waliga at ABC11.com recapped Chase’s day HERE (with video from TV news segment).
David Grzybowski from WNCN.com similarly recapped Thursday’s day in this article (also with video from TV news segment).
Chris Seward from the News & Observer also chronicled the day with video.
My Thursday article at Canes and Coffee did not cover Chase’s day in detail, but my article briefly highlighted a couple other fun happenings that day.
Lindholm, Teravainen and Nedeljkovic “Oh My!”
Canealytics at Section 328 details Teuvo Teravainen’s season HERE.
Kyle Morton from Canes Country profiled Elias Lindholm’s strong play in this article. Kyle was both historically accurate and prophetic at the same time. When posted on January 12, Lindholm had a run of solid hockey. Since then, he has been even better.
After a short stint with the Florida Everblades (and a goal scored even), Alex Nedeljkovic is back with the Checkers. Nedeljkovic’s performance weekend which could be a turning point in his 2016-17 season is detailed HERE by Nicholas Niedzielski from the Checkers web site.
Matt Barlowe from Cardiac Cane takes a deep dive statistically into Noah Hanifin’s play of late in this article. The article is not particularly favorable. I do not completely disagree with the assessment, but I think in this case it is simpler – Hanifin’s development as a 19-year old is still very much a work in process.
Skating above all else
There are obviously many elements to the Hurricanes rapidly improving fortunes, but I think near the top of the list is the team’s transformation into a team that plays fast and attacks. Pretty much across the board the Canes players are average if not better skaters. And Bill Peters is instilling a mentality to play fast and forward. A short part of one of his interviews after the UGLY Devils loss was sarcastic comments about the defense passing the puck back and forth. He very clearly wants the team to push forward when at all possible and attack with speed. I have been saying for awhile that as much as I like size, I take speed over size any day if I can only have 1 of the 2.
This week Ryan Kennedy from The Hockey News called skating “the most important skill in the game” and wrote about the changing NHL.
Every team in the NHL is heading in this direction to some degree, but I think the Canes are at the front of the pack by virtue of having a great set of young defensemen who range from at least above average to elite in terms of skating ability and also an increasingly fast/quick set of forwards.
A new beginning for one of us – Doug Warf
Finally, Mike Flanagan from Section 328 offers a nice thank you letter to Doug Warf whose last day with the team was Friday. Doug has been with the team in a variety of roles since BEFORE the Stanley Cup Championship and has given significantly to the fan base and community. I echo Section 328 in wishing Doug all of the best in his next career challenge and fully expect him to remain a member of our Hurricanes community as a fan.