With Sunday’s hard-fought 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, the Hurricanes closed out a busy four days leading up to the 2022 NHL All-Star break with three wins. On a points per game basis, the Carolina Hurricanes are currently first in the Eastern Conference and second only to the Colorado Avalanche across the entire NHL.
Obviously things are going incredibly well at the midway point of the 2022 NHL season.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe takes a look at what is working so far for the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes.
Frederik Andersen is a mid-season Vezina Trophy candidate. Antti Raanta has been solid as his backup. And Alex Lyon stepped in when needed as a #3 and gave the Canes a chance to win. Consistently solid goaltending gives a team to pick up points pretty much every night even when the team does not have its A game, and that is critical to being atop the standings. I would put goaltending atop the list of many good reasons for the Canes’ success thus far.
2) Top players performing
The players expected to lead the team have done so. Sebastian Aho is playing at nearly a 100-point pace. Andrei Svechnikov has taken a step forward and is playing at a point per game pace. Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce continue to anchor a blue line that is sold. The ceiling for a team is set by how well its best players perform, and the Hurricanes leaders have been on point all season.
3) Good health
The Hurricanes have been minus key players for a few games here and there because of COVID which is par for the course across the NHL, but otherwise the team has been pretty healthy and been able to ice something close to the regular roster for most games. While the success during the ‘next man up’ peak of COVID was admirable, it is much easier to sustain winning with the NHL roster intact. In general, that has been the case for the Canes.
4) Scoring depth
The Hurricanes have five players on pace for 20 or more goals. The team also has another four players with either eight or nine goals. It would take good health and a second half push by some players, but as of right now it is within the realm of possibilities that the Hurricanes could finish the season with a whopping nine players scoring 20 or more goals. That scoring depth goes a long way to making sure the team can find enough scoring even on nights when the top players do not crack the score sheet.
5) Consistent effort
Arguably the biggest trademark of Brind’Amour hockey is the team’s consistent effort level. The team has had games, though not many, in which played poorly or just made too many errors. It happens. But the number of games where the team just looks flat and/or cannot muster the effort needed to win an NHL game is miniscule. Because of that, the Canes are in almost every game and have the chance to pull out a win with a short burst of scoring. The result is the ability grind out points even on nights when they do not catch the breaks or bounces to make it easy.
What say you Canes fans?
1) If you had to identify the top reason for the Canes’ success thus far in 2021-22, what would it be?
2) Of the five that I listed, how would you rank them?
3) Are there others that you would add to my list?
Special teams have been outstanding. The PK has been better than the PP, but both have consistently been Top 5 or better.
By better, I meant more consistent.
I’d put goaltending, effort, and top players as the top 3.
In years past the Canes suffered from a collection of problems, including decent goaltending with leaky goals at key moments, flat games, and noticeably lack of top end talent to steal games even when the team was pushing hard. Back in the 2015/16/17 era I can’t remember how often we outshot the opponent, only to hit a “hot goalie” and then gave up 1 or 2 goals due to defensive zone gaps which cost us the game. We didn’t have the top end scorers to finish the chances.
It’s a bit like Seattle right now, hard working team that grinds but typically does not win games. It wouldn’t be fair to blame the general manager yet, this is Seattle’s first year, but under RF’s management this was exactly the problem the Canes faced.
I’d put special teams in there too I think the PP + PK for the Canes is somewhere in the 120 range, and I think 110 is a sign o excellent special teams (it’s in one of the Hurricanes recent blogs somewhere).
I think points from the back-end are also important. Again a shout out to DeAngelo and the Canes taking a chance on a replacement for Dougie. It could’ve been disastrous, but this time it worked out well for both parties. I expect Tony to ask for a huge raise at the end of the season so not sure he could stay in Carolina.
As frustrated as I was with the Canes’ lack of success in first round drafting (before 2019), finding Aho, Slaven and Pesce in later rounds was nothing short of a miracle.
Svech was an easy pick, but Necas, despite some inconsistency right now, was a great pick and Jarvis is already panning out to be one.
I also like the balance of having faith in our farm system without forcing them into roles they are not ready for.
Guys like Lindholm and Hanifan were pushed too hard into the spotlight where a little AHL seasoning could’ve helped them a lot, but then we had a period of not trusting our farm system at all, it seemed, but now players know that if they play well in Chicago they have a chance at coming up and playing key roles with the big club, in the event of an injury.
The Canes are hitting a bit of a slump right now, (1 2 and 2 in the last 5).
I’d say the Sens game was the one real stinker and the team needed to play a better final 48 seconds against the Panthers.
against the Panthers, that would’ve made for a 3 1 and 1 schedule that would look a lot more like the typical Canes stretch this season.
No need to panic yet, but the team seems to be struggling a bit, both with offense (Necas has not lit the lamp in forever, Aho is going through a mini slump), and giving up too many chances in transition.
Ethan Bear is noticeably not playing that well.
The Canes have more or less 0 cap space to make a splash in the trade market, though maybe they can just put a random forward on injured reserve until the playoffs, and maybe trade the aforementioned bear + picks for one of the UFAs.
It’s a longshot, but might happen.