1) Justin Faulk
Yes. I realize that he makes up 30 percent of what I write about first bad early in the season and more recently good (with a dash of optimistic). He has dialed up the offense (8 points in his last 8 games) and more significantly seems to be finding his game defensively. I really like the trend right now and am obsessed with it because I continue to think that if the Canes are going to hit a higher level, he needs to be right in the middle of it.
2) The team’s age
As the season wears on and young players play night in and night out in big roles, it starts to become commonplace. But I think it is important to realize how young many of these player are and the future upside that comes with that.
3) Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce
Per #2, I think this duo would share flag bearer responsibilities for the young group. To be playing together as a top defense pairing in only their second season in the NHL at the age of 22 is just incredibly impressive and not to be underestimated.
4) Cam Ward
I would never have expected him to be on this list in September, but he is. Right now, the lesser of his games are still the kind that do not steal away his team’s chance to win and quite often he is a key driver of wins. He just looks comfortable and steady right now which hopefully is an indication that his level of play is sustainable.
5) Derek Ryan’s extended run in the NHL
His story continues to be 1 of the best for Hurricanes hockey this season. As a model for perseverance, hard work and just sticking to it when people tell you that you can’t for whatever reason (too small in his case), I cannot be happier for him getting a couple games this season and making the most of them such that he is now playing on an NHL scoring line. I wrote about him in more detail in this recent post.
6) The Hurricanes winning at home
The Hurricanes’ 10-3-1 mark at home is a nice change. The numbers are even better (9-0-1) if you remove the slow start (1-3-0). Fans who make the trek to PNC Arena for Canes hockey are being rewarded for it, and that is fun.
7) The penalty kill
The Hurricanes penalty kill established itself as tops in the league awhile back and have held that title ever since. Somewhere along the way, the penalty decided to start chipping in a well-timed goal here and there to boot. Better would be win-loss record of course, but it is fun to be the best in the entire league at something.
8) The play of the leadership
So far, it looks like the decision to go with 4 A’s looks about right. Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner are driving a first scoring line together and currently rank first and second on the team in scoring. Jordan Staal started a little bit slow maybe but is getting stronger as the season pushes into the difficult middle stage. And per #1, Justin Faulk is having a good season offensively and more significantly is showing signs that the defensive part of his game is rounding into form. The four players wearing letters are leading the team as hoped right now.
What do you like about the Carolina Hurricanes right now?