Last night, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Florida Panthers in overtime, giving the 1st place team in the Discover Central Division their first consecutive losses of the season. The Florida Panthers still remain in 1st place, though, as they received a consolation point for pushing the game past regulation time. The Canes are tied for 2nd place with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I’ve been saying this for awhile now: the Florida Panthers are a good hockey team. The progress they’ve made, even since last season, is nothing short of admirable. This season’s Panthers team is a night-and-day difference from the on-ice product they’ve put together for the past several years.
For the Carolina Hurricanes to hand them their first consecutive losses this season is huge; this proves that the Canes have what it takes to consistently wrench points away from one of the other top teams in the Division.
There aren’t many things to takeaway from this game that we haven’t seen with regularity in general this season, but there are a few things I want to talk about, the first of which is Alex Nedeljkovic‘s beyond stellar performance this season.
There is no world in which sending Ned back to the taxi squad when Petr Mrazek comes back full-time would be the right thing to do, yet I think it’s what we’re going to have to live through when that time comes.
There is no way that Rod Brind’amour can watch James Reimer‘s play this season, compare it to Ned’s performance, and decide that Reimer is the true backup goaltender, but I still think (for whatever reason) that we see Ned head back to the taxi squad in a few short days, and that’s a damned shame. Ned has far and away been the better of the two, and has more than earned his spot as Petr’s backup, but I digress.
Next, I’d like to highlight Vincent Trocheck‘s prowess in the offensive end of the ice. The man just knows how to score goals, and has been incredibly clutch for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. He tied the game up late in the 3rd period last night to send the game to overtime, which was subsequently ended with a beautiful play between Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas (who has scored yet another OT game-winner).
Last thing I want to highlight is Jake Bean. This kid is special; I’ve been saying for the past two years or so that he’s ready for the NHL, and he’s done everything to prove it. He now has, in 12 games played, 1 goal and 6 assists for a total of 7 points. In a regular season, if he kept up production at this pace, he’d earn more than a few looks at the Norris Trophy.
Nonetheless, Bean has been absolutely phenomenal; if the Carolina Hurricanes lose him to the Seattle Expansion Draft, I’m going to lose my mind.