Possible informal event note: I am considering rounding up a group for an informal watch event at Bond Brothers brewery in/near downtown Cary for Thursday’s game against the Islanders.
First is to get an informal headcount to see if/how many would attend. If you are a yes or a maybe for watching the game with other Canes fans at Bond Brothers on Thursday, please RSVP either via comments below, Twitter, website comment form or email to canesandcoffee at gmail dot com.
The tentative plan is to make a go/no go decision on this by Wednesday.
The roller coaster that is the winding 82-game NHL season is already in full effect for the Carolina Hurricanes and its fan base. After a decent start, the Hurricanes fell upon a rough patch that saw them lose four straight and fall below .500 for the first time this season. The last game of the four-game losing streak (an overtime loss) actually started what is currently a four-game point streak (with a 2-0-2) record.
Coming off a 2-0-1 mark last week and heading into a busy four-game week, here is a look at things trending up right now for Hurricanes hockey.
The way that the Chicago game got away ended last week on a sour note, but it did not stop the week from being very successful at 2-0-1. With a shootout loss ending the previous week, the point streak now stands at four games which is obviously trending in the right direction.
My post-game did not give Scott Darling a favorable review for his play in Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks, but I would still say that goaltending in total is trending upward. Cam Ward rebounded from his lone lesser start this season with a stellar effort in Friday night’s win in Columbus. And prior to that, Scott Darling had earned three out of four points earlier in the week allowing only a single goal in consecutive starts. If one allows for the fact that perfect is not possible, I think it is fair to say that the goaltending is trending upward right now.
Blue line depth
It is hard to believe that Haydn Fleury is only 15 games into his NHL career. By no means is he flawless, but he has shown that he has the physical skill set to play at the NHL level, and maybe more significantly he has adjusted pretty well to NHL pace and pressure such that the volume of ‘learning mistakes’ that he makes is modest. The acquisition of Trevor van Riemsdyk has also accomplished its goal. After a revolving door in 2016-17 that never really worked, van Riemsdyk has helped stabilize the third pairing playing primarily with Fleury but also having the same effect on Hanifin for parts of the last few games.
Jordan Staal’s scoring
My quick (and likely imperfect) count has Jordan Staal tied for 20th in the NHL in even strength goals. With nothing to show as part of the Hurricanes’ floundering power play, his six total goals does not look all that impressive, but he is producing in a big way 5-on-5 in addition to providing his usual strong two-way play.
Probably more than any other individual player right now, Brock McGinn is surging. His four goals including a highlight reel-worthy breakaway backhander were huge and paired nicely with the physical element that he brings consistently.
After an up and down start to the season, Noah Hanifin has been better of late. He had a couple issues (penalty shot and another missed coverage) early against the Blackhawks but then seemed to recover. The ability to make a mistake or two and rebound in itself is significant. More generally, I have been beating the drum for awhile now about Hanifin’s more assertive play with and without the puck offensively. I I have said from the first day I saw Hanifin at prospect camp that the ceiling for his game included a fairly heavy dose of Joni Pitkanen, and that part of his game which was dormant for most of two years is starting to emerge.
As we open a new week with the roller coaster currently trending up, what other positive trends are there right now that I missed?