Carolina Hurricanes: In best form since 2006 Cup run

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 7: Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores the game-winning goal during an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres on February 7, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. Carolina won, 6-5 in overtime. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 7: Teuvo Teravainen #86 of the Carolina Hurricanes scores the game-winning goal during an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres on February 7, 2019 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. Carolina won, 6-5 in overtime. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Carolina Hurricanes now have their best record after 54 games since they won the Stanley Cup in 2006. Last night’s win over Buffalo continued their fine form and kept them in contention for a playoff spot.

Don’t you just love these Carolina Hurricanes? Fresh off shutting out Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rod Brind’Amour’s boys came up against former Cane Jeff Skinner and his rival Buffalo Sabres, and came away with an exhilarating (and exhuasting) two points. Let’s try and stick with three takeaways from the game, which is a hard thing to do with so many things to talk about.

1. Grinding out results the old-fashioned way

The game wasn’t for the faint of heart, as the Carolina Hurricanes somehow managed to squander leads at 2-0 and 5-3. Jeff Skinner broke more hearts back in Raleigh with two goals against his former team, the first of which was a beauty on a breakaway and the latter taking the game to OT. Yet, the Canes still came up with the goods, and Teuvo Teravainen‘s spectacular dangle on the breakaway gave the team a hard-earned reward.

Teravainen posted two goals and an assist, with his first being a fine example of wanting the puck more than anyone as he sprawled to reach a loose puck and tapped it into the empty net, and was a real game-changer for the Canes. He is going to make that $5.4m AAV contract extension look like a bargain every single year.

2. Depth scoring continues to make the difference

Since Jordan Martinook‘s wife gave birth at the end of January, Marty has posted two goals, two assists and a +3 rating in four games, as well as signing that excellent-value contract extension. Is there a player on this team who personifies what Tom Dundon wants from this team more than Marty? He gives it his all on every shift, clearly loves his team mates and the fans, and has been an excellent pickup by Waddell.

3. Career year for McKegg

A big shoutout goes to Greg McKegg, a literal lovable rogue who last night set career highs in goals (4) and points (7). He’s playing at a 38-point pace for a full 82-game season – he’s been a huge part of this team’s 2019 run, and he deserved that beautiful pass from Trevor van Riemsdyk for the tap-in. Keep at it Greg, we are right behind you!

Now, I could just as easily have looked at the contributions of Sebastian Aho (2 assists), Andrei Svechnikov (also 2 assists), Justin Faulk (opened the scoring but also got out-hustled by Skinner on a goal) or on Nino Niederreiter‘s sixth goal in eight games for the Carolina Hurricanes. There were a lot of positives from the game – but none more important than the two points.

109. Final. 5. 12. 6

The Carolina Hurricanes have no time to rest on their laurels, as they go straight back into battle tonight against a team they have failed to beat on the road for nine years. That ends tonight. Despite being on the road, being on the second half of a back-to-back and also coming off a high-intensity, energy-sapping OT win, these Canes players don’t know how to quit. They are hungry, they are playing for each other, and that will translate into another two points at Madison Square Garden tonight.

Now, we know we can’t take the Rangers lightly. They have some fantastic players of their own – Mika Zibanejad just featured on eleven straight Rangers goals, for example – and in Henrik Lundqvist, they have a goalie who can steal a game from any team in the league. Some of their key players are also putting themselves in the shop window ahead of the Feb. 25th trade deadline, which will add some spice to the game. No opponent in the NHL is ever easy, but I have faith the Coach Rod Brind’Amour will get his boys fired up for puck drop – look at his comment last night, and tell me who you’d want coaching this team, with its history, in a grind to the end:

"“All of the games are going to be tough down the stretch,” Brind’Amour said. “They’re pivotal for us, and a lot of teams are still in the hunt. It’s going to be a grind the rest of the way.”"

We will see Petr Mrazek in net tonight, after sitting the last two in favor of the now-healthy Curtis McElhinney. Mrazek is 2-1-0 against the Rangers in his career, sporting a 3.64 GAA and a scary save percentage of .863%. How’s that for statistics? Carolina Hurricanes fans know that Mrazek is playing much better than his 2018/19 numbers would suggest – 2.83 GAA and .894% – and so we would happily see another great performance with poor numbers from Ostrava’s finest.

Expect no other changes from the Carolina Hurricanes, who will again wear their red jerseys on the road. We need to see another strong performance from all four lines, and continued focus on special teams, and maybe – just maybe – Canes fans will finally be able to celebrate a first victory at MSG since 2010. Sebastian Aho is also one assist away from 100 in his career, so we may also have a milestone to celebrate.

Is Petr Mrazek our number one goalie?. dark. Next

Another win tonight would be the most important of the season yet. Breaking this team’s ridiculous MSG ‘curse’, and winning their 12th game in 17 games this calendar year, would be a huge statement to make as the Carolina Hurricanes look to serve notice on their Eastern Conference rivals that this team is a legitimate playoff contender. Who would bet against them putting their fifth win in six games, and closing that gap to the teams above them in the standings? Not us, because the Canes are going to do all of the above and keep themselves right in the thick of the playoff race.

Prediction: Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 New York Rangers