Sunday’s game was the 41st of the 2018-19 season for the Carolina Hurricanes marking exactly the halfway point making it an interesting time to do various check ins on the season so far. Today’s Daily Cup of Joe will look at the biggest surprises for the 2018-19 season to date for the Carolina Hurricanes.
1) Curtis McElhinney as the #1 and a huge difference-maker
Heading into the season, there was plenty of debate about which of Scott Darling or Petr Mrazek would seize the #1 job and run with it. Those looking or a deep dark horse might have figured Alex Nedeljkovic in the mix. But I cannot imagine that anyone would have had Curtis McElhinney as the team’s top goalie at the midway point of the season. And what is more, the fact that McElhinney leapfrogged both opening day goalies and yet goaltending is a strength thus far.
2) The center position
Before it was announced that Victor Rask’s injury would keep him out of the opening day lineup, the Hurricanes seemed reasonably set at center. Aho would at least start the season there. Staal would man his usual spot. Victor Rask and rookie Martin Necas would be the other two centers. Between injuries to Rask and Staal and Necas’ audition not going particularly well, the center position has been a revolving door. Through 41 games, the four players above have played center but so have Lucas Wallmark, Clark Bishop, Nicolas Roy and Greg McKegg.
Sort of in the same vein, in early October who would have had Wallmark as a regular, Necas in the AHL and McKegg as the center most trending upward right now.
3) Lack of scoring from the blue line
Entering the season, one could reasonably have figured both Justin Faulk and Dougie Hamilton as potential 50-point scorers from the blue line. Even with Hamilton’s recent surge, the Hurricanes do not have a single defenseman on target for 30 points. Worth noting is that Hamilton is trending upward right now, but through 41 games blue line scoring was underwhelming.
4) Lack of deals
With a new owner and his stated dislike for losing and patience, one would have figured that the Hurricanes would act swiftly if the 2018-19 season fell off of a competitive pace especially given the overstock on capable defensemen. The Hurricanes have stumbled a bit. Yet the team has yet to pull off a trade to add scoring.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Who else has surprises (big or small) thus far in the 2018-19 season?
2) Which player’s point total is most significantly different from what you would have expected entering the season?