With the team hopefully working hard to rectify a few recent negative trends on day three of five off before the next game, today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a list of positives through nine games.
The new guys
His game offensively has been incredibly simple yet effective. He scored from between the circles on a pretty passing play with Martin Necas and Ryan Dzingel, but if my memory is correct each and every one of his other six goals have from from with 2-3 feet of the painted crease area. Underappreciated possibly is how solid he has been on the other side of the puck. Dzingel arrived with a reputation as being a bit of an offense-leaning forward, and Necas is still young, learning and more advanced in his offensive game. Yet this line has not stood out in a big way for defensive issues. While I do think Dzingel and Necas deserve some credit too, I think a significant part is also Haula’s strong play as a read/react type center whose decision-making has been strong.
Only a tiny step behind Haula in the early going, Dzingel has has seven points in nine games which makes for a solid 64-point pace. He is another reason that hopes are high for the Hurricanes ultimately to be much more balanced offensively once the first line gets its bearings.
As is reasonable to expect from any 20-year old rookie, Necas’ game is still a work in progress, but I see a striking contrast between the 2018-19 Martin Necas and the 2019-20 Martin Necas. Last season, Necas struggled defensively as a center, but what actually concerned me more was how quiet and nearly invisible he was offensively. Fast forward to 2019-20, and Necas is regularly noticeable in a good way offensively. His five points in nine games is not earth-shattering, but it represents decent offensive production for a rookie and probably understates his level of play thus far. It will be interesting to see if Necas can find an even higher gear once he fully acclimates.
The old guys
It is a poorly kept secret that Dougie Hamilton has been playing his best hockey as a Hurricane. He has been the team’s best offensive player despite being a defenseman and would have to be considered a Norris Trophy candidate if anyone did such prognostication only nine games into the season. As a player who has traditionally started slowly, it will be interesting to see if Hamilton sees a regression to the mean on a different schedule than the past or if he is in the early stages of an absolutely monstrous season.
Teuvo Teravainen has been arguably the quietest early standout. He has nine points in nine games for a point per game pace, so it is not like he is flying under the radar. But with Hamilton’s outburst and Haula being on the finishing end of most of Teravainen’s power play assists, I still feel like Teravainen is a bit overlooked. In my opinion, he has been the team’s best power play player as the leading catalyst on the power play unit that has produced. And his heady two-way play makes him an equally good fit on Jordan Staal’s checking line or Sebastian Aho’s scoring line.
Lost maybe a tiny bit in the team’s recent 1-3 stretch is the fact that the team is off to a good start at 6-3. That represents a 108-point pace which feels like (and maybe is?) an all-time high coming mostly out of the NC State Fair road trip. (The team does technically have one more road game during that stretch.) The path to a slightly easier path to the playoffs starts and ends with a better start. Through nine games, the Canes have exactly that.
What say you Canes fans?
1) Who has other individual player positives (I do think there are others who could easily be added) through nine games to add to this list?
2) What about other positives that are not for individual players?