Carolina Hurricanes: Starting the New Year in style

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Andrei Svechnikov #37, Warren Foegele #13, and Petr Mrazek #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on January 3, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 03: Andrei Svechnikov #37, Warren Foegele #13, and Petr Mrazek #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrate after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on January 3, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It’s the New Year and the Carolina Hurricanes are already checking off the box with a win against the Philadelphia Flyers. Can they follow that up with another win against Columbus tonight?

Fresh off of beating the Flyers on New Years Eve, the Carolina Hurricanes went back to work, this time in the Wells Fargo Arena. They still got to wear their red jerseys on the road, and it was good luck for the Hurricanes who backed up another great performance by Petr Mrazek with plenty of goal support. If they plan to make the uphill climb back into playoff positioning, they will need to continue to do this.

Is the team’s goal scoring really back? The Hurricanes have put up more goals on the Flyers in these last two games than the five games before that COMBINED. So what is finally working? Hard to truly say. It might be that it being a little less than halfway through the season this team is finally figuring it out and clicking with one another. It might be that the Flyers are exactly as advertised, the worst team in the Metro and, quite possibly, the entire league. If it’s the former, perhaps it’s time to make a true push and get some more offensive help. However if it is the latter, than perhaps we should take a closer look at tonight’s game plan, But more on that later.

This was a complete game against the Flyers. There was a lot of confidence building in it. The kind that only gets better when you allow yourself to forget the first half of the season that played in 2018 and focus on making 2019 a much better year for Carolina Hockey. It started with Dougie Hamilton, who extended his shot streak to 204 games. The only difference now is that Dougie is a goal-per-game player in 2019:

The confidence building didn’t stop there. On the very next shift, the Canes were awarded a power play. They took very little time changing the narrative that surrounded the Carolina Hurricanes’ special teams. Doing his best impression of his former Washington Capitals Captain, Carolina Hurricanes Captain Justin Williams stood at the point and raised his stick calling for a one timer. Sebastian Aho happily obliged, and Williams slapped it past Michal Neuvirth glove side, the second time he had let in a goal from the spot:

The goal scoring Carolina Hurricanes didn’t stop in the second period as more players registered points and demanded that 2019 be the year everything changes for this team. Teuvo Teravainen found the net on another powerplay, giving the canes two PP goals in four man advantages, converting 50% in 2019. Sebastian Aho got apples on both the first goals of the game. Brock McGinn, Micheal Ferland, Justin Faulk, and Calvin de Haan all left with a point as well.

Even the rookies got into the spirit of the new year. Warren Foegele and Saku Maenalanen both attempted to deflect a wrister from Faulk. While Foegele was the one who was credited with the goal, Maenalanen appeared to have been part of the play and was initially given an apple. While the point was eventually taken away from Maenalanen, his net front presence shouldn’t be ignored. I would like to see his role on this team continue to grow.

That goal proved to be the game winner, as the Carolina Hurricanes relaxed a bit and the Flyers put their foot on the gas and attempted some New Year’s magic of their own. Already owning the worst power play numbers in the league, the Flyers didn’t want to risk the Hurricanes leaving them too far in the dust. Both Wayne Simmonds and James Van Riemsdyk found open net behind Mrazek on two of the five power plays they were awarded last night. Sean Couturier also scored as they made a furious push within a five minute span to get within one goal.

But fear not fellow Caniacs. Teuvo Teravainen, who is looking for fan votes to send him along with Sebastian Aho to the All Star game, ended the panic. Taking the puck from the defensive zone, Teravainen raced up the ice finding himself on an odd man rush with the dangerous Aho. Given the option between a pass and a shot, Teuvo did something almost impossible. He did both. With his eyes he passed the puck to Aho, however his stick did something else as he pushed an impossibly strong wrister five hole past the unsuspecting Flyers netminder:

That goal stopped the bleeding and the Hurricanes managed to kill the rest of the time off the clock, earning themselves an undefeated record in 2019 and a fresh start to the business end of the season as they pull back to an even .500. It is still a difficult uphill battle to a playoff spot. Especially with the injuries they have compiled across the games. This one sadly added Clark Bishop to the list, who hobbled off the ice after a dangerous collision.

3. 68. 5. 109. Final

Canes back in action tonight

The Carolina Hurricanes come back to Raleigh today to find another team already waiting for them. The Columbus Blue Jackets have not played since Monday and are the second opponent in the first of the three back-to-backs the Hurricanes have this month. They will also be the first true test of their New Years’ resolutions.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are currently on a tear. They have won seven of their last nine games, gaining 15 of the possible 18 points in that span. They have outscored their opponents by a whopping 29 goals to 17 goals. Sergei Bobrovsky has been nothing but brilliant for them during this period, achieving shutouts against the Vegas Golden Knights and the New Jersey Devils.

The last time the Blue Jackets were in Raleigh they were the first of a back-to-back matchup halfway through November. That game saw Scott Darling outmatched by the speed and skill of the Blue Jackets offense. That same offense will need to be stopped in support of Curtis McElhinney this time. Whether or not the fact that this offense hasn’t graced the ice since last year is a hinder or a help remains to be seen.

For now the uphill climb back to relevance in the Metro division goes through the Blue Jackets. The opponents afterwards do not get any easier with matchups against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning as well as visits from Jeff Skinner‘s Buffalo Sabres and Bill Peters’ Calgary Flames. One of those will receive a warm welcome at PNC Arena. For now, the focus should be the two points against the Blue Jackets.

With Clark Bishop’s condition unknown, I would have liked the Hurricanes to call Martin Necas, who has been knocked out of the World Juniors, to take his spot if he is too hurt to play tonight. The Carolina Hurricanes have instead called up Greg McKegg from the Checkers and placed Jordan Staal on the IR. McKegg, who was acquired in the only deadline trade conducted last season, has 6 goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 31 games played in with the Checkers. It would be his first game played with the Carolina Hurricanes.

With Curtis McElhinney in net and an offense that seems to have its confidence back, perhaps the tides will turn tonight. This team certainly would like to get back to playoff contention sooner rather than later. This might be the game that dictates the approach to the rest of the season. A .500 record for the season is a dangerous place to hang out at.

Prediction: Carolina 4-1 Columbus

Next. Would Jamie Benn help keep our offense firing?. dark

Question for CC Readers:

Should the Hurricanes build upon the back-to-back wins against the Flyers or should they look to improve their stock in the draft lottery?