Inevitably the long 82-game NHL season will offer some ups and downs for the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes.
But through eight games, the team is a perfect 8-0-0 which suggests (rightfully I believe) that Hurricanes are a very good hockey team and have the chance to be a going concern come playoff time.
Today’s Daily Cup of Joe tries to boil down what is going right so far for the team.
1) Consistency in terms of effort level
In what has become a trademark under Rod Brind’Amour, the gap between peak play in terms of effort level and pace and the occasional floor is very small. Through eight games, the Hurricanes really have not had a complete dud in terms of effort level or pace. Even in Sunday’s narrow 2-1 win, I thought the Hurricanes played a decent game and were up to par in terms of pace and just did not really catch a bounce or two like the team had earlier in the week. Consistency in this regard puts in a high floor that gives the team chance to win every night.
I have said on multiple occasions that probably the most striking difference between the current team and Canes teams that struggled for most of a decade is the ability to just put the puck in the net. Gone are the days when the Canes chuck 40 mediocre shots at the net hoping a couple find holes and then repeating the story of losing to another hot goalie. Very often those games also featured more skilled teams being outplayed but capitalizing with precision on a couple grade A scoring chance to run out to a lead. Fast forward to today and the Canes are very regularly on the winning side of that equation with skilled scorers like Aho, Svechnikov, Teravainen, Necas and Trocheck capable of turning a modest number of scoring chances into a high goal total. And at the end of the day, the outcome is in fact decided by the number of goals scored. The result is the ability to play a decent not great game but still put up four or more goals on the way to a win.
3) Frederik Andersen
Especially early in the season (after the home opener win), the Hurricanes really did not play tremendous hockey. But they scored some and also had Frederik Andersen stopping everything that he saw. Just like with the consistency, having a goalie at the top of his game generally gives a team a chance to win even on lesser nights. The Hurricanes have benefited from Andersen making the team look better than it really was on multiple occasions through eight games.
4) Depth and balance
With Jordan Staal’s line doing the heavy lifting in terms of tough match ups and scoring to boot, the Carolina Hurricanes are a deep team at forward that can generate scoring from multiple sources and equally importantly hold its own against tough match ups regardless of who is on the ice. The same applies on defense. Ethan Bear has been very quiet in a good way slotting in the top four next to Jaccob Slavin. Slavin has been incredibly good so far and part of that is attributable to Bear’s steady play. The third pairing of Ian Cole and Tony DeAngelo has also been steady which makes it hard to find match ups to pick on versus the Canes.
Another departure from the tough years is the team’s propensity to just keep plugging until it finds a way. Sunday was a good example of that. The game did not really go the Canes way, and they never really caught a lucky bounce or break. But expecting to win, the team just stayed the course and eventually broke through late. In years past, the Hurricanes seemingly always found a way to be the Coyotes in that game having a chance late but somehow finding a way to lose in the end. Now it feels like the reverse is true.
What say you Canes fans?
1) From my list, which of these factors would you consider most significant in the Canes perfect start?
2) Do you have any other factors that you would at to this list to explain the 8-0-0 start?
All of the factors you listed have played a part IMO. The most significant IMO has been the play of Frederik Anderson. His play has allowed the rest of the team to play loose and wide open hockey resulting in higher goal production, less play in the Canes defensive zone, and playing with confidence that mistakes will be covered by the goalie.
A factor you didn’t mention is the team depth (although you do imply it with your comments). The ability to roll 4 lines playing at high speed and with the ability to score really is an advantage the Canes have against most teams.