Carolina Hurricanes: First test without Aho lies in wait

If the Carolina Hurricanes can take down the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 20, it would go a long way to boosting the team’s confidence without Aho.

A Jan. 20 battle with the Detroit Red Wings awaits the Carolina Hurricanes in their first competition since a 4-1 defeat, at PNC Arena, against the Calgary Flames. In what amounted to pretty much an all-around embarrassing effort for the Canes on Jan. 14, they also lost possibly the most important forward on the roster.

The hit from Flames captain defenseman Mark Giordano sidelined star sophomore left wing Sebastian Aho indefinitely with a lower-body injury and a concussion. Aho is the team-leader in points and goals and will be sorely missed. However, the Canes need to move forward with what they have.

Jeff Skinner is the likely replacement for Aho on the first line, for head coach Bill Peters. He’ll slot next to Jordan Staal (center) and Teuvo Teravainen (right wing). For the bulk of the regular season, Skinner found himself on the third line, playing with Derek Ryan and Justin Williams.

However, as a top scorer on the team, Skinner deserves his chance on the first line to prove his worth to Peters. Yet, even Skinner might have a hard time presenting the same offensive value as Aho. As a talented offensive producer, Aho has the skating and playmaking abilities to make numerous NHL defenders look silly.

It’s important for the Canes to get off to a strong start in the team’s first game without Aho. While Detroit is not in a playoff position right now, neither are the Canes. With the rest of the Metropolitan Division leaving them in the rear view mirror, Carolina needs two points tomorrow.