For the third consecutive week, the Carolina Hurricanes stumbled early in the week but won the last game of the week to gain back some of what was lost. The Hurricanes hockey .500 record and six-point gap (based on games above .500) below the final playoff spot is still not a good place to be heading into the break, but the win did at least offer one holiday home win and a bit of a break from too much losing.
The formula was actually fairly simple. The team’s top line went off to the tune of four goals combined from Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Once the top scorers produce that, the microscope on everything else goes away and a game can hold a reasonable number of errors and still generate a win.
The win was made more impressive by the fact that the Canes survived an early two-goal deficit and did not collapse/wither under the pressure.
The past few weeks clearly illustrate that it takes more than an intermittent good win to be a turning point and chart a path upward, but any chance of a turnaround has a better chance starting at one win than at zero.
Player and other notes
1) Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho
The game was easily Teuvo Teravainen’s best of the 2018-19 season. His first goal was more lucky than good, but he made plays on the puck throughout the game and then made quick and simple decisions once he had it. He was decisive, and he also finished into a corner when given the chanc. Sebastian Aho was similarly assertive, productive and impressive. While the team could definitely benefit from a scoring run by the top line, it does still need to find more scoring from other sources.
Ironically, the fluky bad angle goal off of a Boston defenseman combined with Aho’s soft goal right through Tuuka Rask could also prove to be a huge positive going forward. Both could encourage both players who lean ‘one more pass’ too often sometimes to more often just put the puck on the net.
2) Jordan Martinook
More than any other player on the team, Jordan Martinook gets the pulse and situation of the team. In games where the team needs to come out with a bang to fight through whatever self-doubt it enters with, Martinook is Johnny on the spot. In Sunday’s win, he blew up a Bruins defenseman with a huge hit on his first shift and then continued to lead the way early on with hard skating and rugged play.
3) Clark Bishop
He is not the most gifted option depth-wise, nor does he have the highest ceiling offensively. But he gets what he needs to do when he is on the ice. He was the net front presence on the Faulk goal and filled that role for at least two other near misses as well. His ceiling might be that of a fourth-liner, but when given NHL ice time, he makes a strong case for filling this role.
4) Calvin de Haan and Justin Faulk
The team’s top defense pairing had another strong game. Faulk’s goal through the Bishop scree was the highlight, but more than anything, they just continue to play pretty solid hockey.
5) Whaler day
As someone who adopted the franchise when it arrived in North Carolina in 1997, I am not qualified to comment on the controversial situation except to say that I hope at least some Whaler fans enjoyed the return of the sharp Whalers uniforms and the bit of nostalgia.
Next up for the Hurricanes is a three-day break for the entire league followed by a road-heavy stretch that starts with a tough road match up against the Capitals on Thursday.