If you are enjoying the mid-season check ins on Hurricanes prospects, please also check out today’s interview format update on the Hurricanes top 3 blue line prospects at the AHL level (Trevor Carrick, Haydn Fleury, Roland McKeown) in a ‘Checking In’ special feature.
After 2 losses last week, Monday’s regular playoff chase update saw the Hurricanes take a step down in the playoff standings. And the Hurricanes one step forward, two steps back play since mid-January is 3 wins short of the target I set in my post on January 17. But despite the recent struggles, the Hurricanes will have possibly their last chance to surge and pull into the playoff chase when they play 5 straight games at PNC Arena starting on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche. Sitting 4 points out of a playoff spot (adjusted for games played) and with the run ending right before the trade deadline, the time is now for the Hurricanes to rise up.
Such a surge will require a number of players to find a significantly higher gear. Of late, the Aho/Staal/Lindholm line has played well and that is really about it.
Leaders must lead offensively
Jeff Skinner has 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 11 games. Last season when he rose up and had a strong March after the trade deadline it was deemed leadership after the departure of Eric Staal, Kris Versteeg and John-Michael Liles. If it happens against this season after the Hurricanes are out of the playoff picture, might it instead be interpreted as inability to produce when the team desperately needs it and it really matters?
Victor Rask does not have a single point in those 11 games. Needless to say, that is not enough for a top 9 forward let along a player on what is thought to be the team’s top scoring line.
Lee Stempniak has 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 9 games playing mostly on a third line but more recently reunited with Skinner and Rask with whom he started the season.
Especially at home where Peters will try to get them favorable match ups to jump start them, this line must start scoring and must do so soon. If it takes this line a week or so to get going and the Hurricanes sputter along the way, it might be all she wrote for the team before the calendar flips to March.
The depth scoring must return
Teuvo Teravainen has scored sporadically of late with 1 goal and 3 assists in his past 8 games. The Hurricanes are 3-7 in their past 10 games. Teravainen played in 6 of the losses and has a lone assist to his credit in those 6 games. In the 3 wins, he has 1 goal and 3 assists. When the Canes find scoring from more than 1 line, they often find wins.
Derek Ryan has now gone 11 games without collecting a single point. As a skilled scorer, he needs to bring depth scoring to the table to maintain his place in the lineup.
Brock McGinn brings a Nathan Gerbe-like every shift intensity, but to be a regular in the NHL in the top 9, scoring is also needed. After winning the NHL player of the week award with a 3-game outburst of 4 goals and 3 assists, McGinn has gone quiet with no goals and 1 assist in his past 10 games.
With both Andrej Nestrasil and Phil Di Giuseppe playing well in Charlotte, I would not be surprised to see 1 or both recalled and inserted into the NHL lineup to try to spark things if depth scoring does not emerge quickly coming out of the bye week break. Neither player is what I would consider instant offense, but both bring a different element to the lineup and hopefully a hunger to stay at the NHL level when given their next chances.