The month of November started off rocky for the Carolina Hurricanes but the last couple of games have showed promise and improvement. Since the last post the Canes have won three of their last five games. The Hurricanes are currently on the tail end of a truck load full of road games with two home games thrown in. It started on November 7th losing 4-2 to the New York Rangers and then another loss in Ottawa to the Senators, losing 4-1. The Canes then came home for a night to play the Senators once again to start a three game win streak by beating Ottawa 8-2. They have won their last two road games in overtime against Buffalo and Minnesota. So, let’s take a look at how the Canes have been playing and where they have made improvements.
Penalty killing has been phenomenal
As of late the Carolina Hurricanes have been great at killing penalties. So far this season the Canes rank in the top 15 on successful penalty kills, killing 83% of all penalties. Special teams have been the highlight for this team in most of the games this season. It has been noticeable the effect the PK Units have had on the most recent games, helping keep them in the past couple of match ups. So far the Canes are ranked in the middle of the pack with twelve goals allowed on power plays. This seems to be the average for most of the league. While killing penalties, they have been able to score a handful of shorthanded goals. Forward Sebastian Aho, lovingly known as Sea Bass, is one of the league leaders so far this season in shorthanded goals with two goals.
The defense has been a letdown
The toughest part of the team this season has been finishing games strong. In their last two road games, they started off the first two periods strong. In both games against Buffalo and Minnesota, Carolina started the games off strong by scoring goals early and taking advantage of slow starts for both teams. The issue is that they have been allowing teams to get comfortable and goalies to settle in, to the point where they lose their momentum. During the match against the Sabres on the 14th of November, the Canes had a 3-1 lead at the early part of the second period, then they blew the lead leading to the game being 4-4 at the end of regulation. A similar story happened in Minnesota on the 16th of November where the Canes were leading 3-0 and then gave up three unanswered goals which led to another overtime game.
The offense has been scoring easily
The Canes have been impressive as of late scoring many goals, and there are players that deserve recognition. The most impressive on both sides of the ice has to be Dougie Hamilton. So far this season he has nine goals and 13 assists on the year. Not too shabby for a defenseman right? Second under him without a doubt is right winger Andrei Svechnikov. From wristers, to slapshots, to lacrosse goals he can do it all and him and Hamilton are both tied on points for the year with equal stats in goals and assists. The Canes are happy to see the return of Jordan Martinook to the lines, as he made his first return to the ice after recovering from a core injury against the Wild on Friday night. The Canes need to see better play on the defensive side from Jake Gardiner and Ryan Dzingel. They have been responsible for some sluggish defense leading to unnecessary goals.
Outlook for the next five games
Granted the Hurricanes have been playing well as of late. The puck has been going into the net easily and Petr Mrazek has improved his goalie play. Not all of the blame of allowing goals can be laid at his feet, considering the defense sluggishness has led to a great deal of mismatches for him to defend. The Canes have one more road game against the Blackhawks before the start of a two game stand at home. While at home they will play the Flyers of Philadelphia and the Florida Panthers. Although these two home games are not division games, they are conference games so they are still important. They then will finish off with two road games in Detroit and New York (Rangers) before Thanksgiving.
This is an important opportunity for the Hurricanes to gain some ground where they had a four game losing streak. Although only one of these games is a division game, still, every game counts in the Metro division. They have improved their play on the road, and it would be a great start to a home stand if they can beat the Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
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