Carolina Hurricanes Are Being Carried By Jordan Staal, Remain in the Playoff Hunt

Feb 19, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; San Jose Sharks defensemen Brent Burns (88) gets ready to take a shot next to Carolina Hurricanes forward Kris Versteeg (32) and defensemen Brett Pesce (54) at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; San Jose Sharks defensemen Brent Burns (88) gets ready to take a shot next to Carolina Hurricanes forward Kris Versteeg (32) and defensemen Brett Pesce (54) at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /

Every week, Cardiac Cane will make a complete wrap-up of the Carolina Hurricanes’ week for the 2015-2016 season.

Regular Season: 2/15 – 2/23


It has been a little over a week since the last update and the Carolina Hurricanes played five games in that time. Over those games, Carolina recorded three wins and two losses, putting them two points out of the last Eastern Conference playoff position. With the trade deadline looming, every day, even every hour is becoming more and more important for the ‘Canes’ fate this season and beyond.

Game one was against the Winnipeg Jets and it ended in favor of the ‘Canes. On the powerplay, Carolina was extremely effective. Jordan Staal scored (this will be a theme this week) and so did Riley Nash on the man advantage. In net, Eddie Lack was very solid, fending off 20 of 21 shots at his net. Only Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg’s leading scorer, could break through in the 3rd period. The ‘Canes won 2-1.

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Following a win over the Jets, Carolina flew north to face Erik Karlsson and the Senators in Ottawa. The Hurricanes once again received goals from Jordan and Nash, however it wasn’t enough. Going into the 3rd period at 2-2, Carolina struggled to get the puck out of their zone. Cody Ceci collected the puck at the point and scored for the Sens when his shot deflected off a Hurricane and into the net. Mark Stone added an empty net tally, giving Ottawa a 4-2. The regulation loss ended Carolina’s five game point streak.

The next night, back at the friendly confines of PNC Arena, the Hurricanes defeated the San Jose Sharks 5-2. The scoring began in the 1st period when Chris Terry deflected a Noah Hanifin shot. Brent Burns got one back for San Jose, but Joakim Nordstrom answered in 2nd period with a thunderous slap shot to give the lead back to the ‘Canes. The 3rd period was more of the same with two goals from Jeff Skinner. Tomas Hertl did score, but an empty net goal from Jordan Staal sealed victory for Carolina.

Tampa Bay visited Raleigh on Sunday and left with a victory. Despite a shorthanded goal from Nordstrom via a Jordan Staal assist. Two quick 2nd period goals from the Lightening put Carolina in a tough spot, but Carolina found relief from an unlikely source. Michal Jordan scored a beautiful wrap around goal for his first of the season. In the 3rd period, a questionable call put the ‘Canes on the penalty kill and Tampa captain Steven Stamkos capitalized. Another goal on an empty net handed the Hurricanes an unlucky loss.

Finally, on Tuesday, the Hurricanes played their third straight home game against Philadelphia. After missing the last week, Justin Faulk returned the lineup and gave his team a much needed boost from the back. However, Cam Ward the story in this one. In a rare game where Carolina was dominated possession wise, Ward put forth one his best games of the season, stopping 36 shots on 37 attempts. He was only beaten by Scott Laughton in the 1st period. Trailing after one period, goals from Nordstrom and Jordan Staal put the ‘Canes in the lead by the final period of play. In that final period, Eric Staal swatted a rebound in for his first goal in 17 games and the Hurricanes’ 3rd. Cam Ward shut the door as the ‘Canes rolled to a 3-1 victory.

Cane of the Week:

Jordan Staal – 5GP, 4G, 2A, +3

The two Staal brothers continue to move in opposite directions. Eric Staal continues to be an enigma on the ice while his brother has been a force offensively. Jordan recorded 6 points in 5 games this week, registering a point in every contest. On the defensive side of the puck, he continues to deny top lines from clicking. He has reasserted himself as one of the NHL’s best two-way centermen.

Back in December, I wrote a piece about Staal’s trade over from Pittsburgh. At that time, Jordan wasn’t playing up to his $6 million contract and I claimed the Penguins came out winners of the deal. Since that was published, he has been a different player. Not only has he proven his value, but he has also exceeded expectations. Staal is currently the ‘Canes leader in points, assists, and plus/minus ratio. This is after going for the first 21 games only registering 3 goals and 3 assists. By comparison, in his most recent 22 games, the alternate captain has 24 points and is a remarkable +17, which is highest in the NHL over that stretch.

Staal’s play is also shedding off on his linemates Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil, both of whom are playing the best hockey of their respective careers. He continues to buoy Carolina near the playoff cut line. If one man is going to carry Carolina into the postseason, it will be Jordan Staal.

Honorable Mentions: Riley Nash, Noah Hanifin, Joakim Nordstrom

Next: Hurricanes Get Key Home Win Against the Flyers

The Forecast:

Thursday 7:30 pm @ Air Canada Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs

Friday 7:00 pm @ PNC Arena against the Boston Bruins

Sunday 3:00 pm @ PNC Arena against the St. Louis Blues

After a busy week, there is no rest for Carolina. There are three games on the docket. Thursday has a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team in lottery contention. The Hurricanes then travel back to Raleigh to face the Bruins of Boston. Despite being in the opposite division, a win against Boston would be big for Carolina.

Finally, the ‘Canes battle St. Louis. Also, next Monday is February 29th, which is both Cam Ward’s birthday and the trade deadline, so trade rumors about Eric Staal will be flying all around this week. Go ‘Canes!