Hockey

Carolina Hurricanes on Fire in the COVID-19 Shortened Season

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While the 2020-21 NHL season is not conventional in any way, the Carolina Hurricanes have gotten out to a hot start. As of the time of writing this article, the Hurricanes sit at fourth in the Central Division and 12th in the league. While this doesn’t sound overly amazing, it is important to note that they currently have some of the least amounts of games played. Through the eight games the Hurricanes have played, they have only lost two in a division containing the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the runner-up, the Dallas Stars.

Carolina Hurricanes Solid in Net

Early in the season, Petr Mrazek picked up an injury to his thumb, which would see him out indefinitely due to the requirement of surgery. Mrazek left big shoes to fill, having started the season out strong with two shutouts in four games played, making 63 saves on 66 shots.

For any team, the loss of their starting goalie is a detriment, but James Reimer was up to the task while showing off his veteran talent in the net. Reimer seemed to recapture his solid form, helping his team to win four of the five games he started in net while facing 140 shots and making 126 saves. The Hurricanes’ depth in net has certainly been one contributing factor to the run of stellar performances.

Power in Front

The Carolina Hurricanes have one of the more proficient offensive lineups in the league, with most players being able to play both ways on the ice. As a team, they have put up 24 goals in their eight games. Ten of those goals have come from the first line forward line, and seven on the power play. Not looking shy on the penalty kill either, the Carolina Hurricanes’ short-handed unit has already put a goal in as well.

The Hurricanes real strength comes from their depth, with big-name players like Teuvo Terravainen and Jordan Staal playing on the third line mixing veteran and developing talents on most lines. The Hurricanes’ third line is currently one of the tops in the league, not letting in many goals, and being physical enough to wear down their opponents.

Finally, when looking at the Carolina Hurricanes forward lines, no one is shy when going in to play on the defensive end of the ice. Key forwards on the defensive end include Martin Necas who has ten blocked shots in the season so far, the second-most in his team. As well, Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, and Vincent Trochek lead their team in hits, which largely resulted in plays being broken up, and the puck being reclaimed.

World Class Defence

The Carolina Hurricanes have been one of the top three teams defensively, only having 19 goals against. Back on top of the team are Jacob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton who, as with last season, is one of the top defensive pairings in the league, maintaining a +5 so far with that trend looking to continue.

Unlike with last season though, the Hurricanes’ have changed up their second and third defensive pairings, matching Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce for a more conservative defensive-oriented pairing. The backline sees the Hurricanes’ youngest active defensemen, Haydn Fleury, playing alongside veteran Jake Gardiner in an unexpected power pairing that was strong during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff’s.

Not to be left out in offensive plays either, Dougie Hamilton still holds six points in eight games, with three of them being on the powerplay. As well, Jake Gardiner holds three points this season with two of them coming on the powerplay from the second unit.

The ability to play both ways on the ice has helped the Carolina Hurricanes play overall and could help them on their quest to make the playoffs in what could be one of the strangest seasons in league history.

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