Carolina’s 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets has some Hurricanes fans adding a question mark to the tagline, “In Rod We Trust.” The win, in which the Canes defense backstopped by the wiley-as-usual Pyotr Kochetkov kept the Jackets scoreless for 2 periods, was the second in three games for the Canes who are 12-8-0 and 2nd in the Metro with 24 points. But is it time, even after the disappointing 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay, to make those question marks permanent? Should we really be questioning our trust in Rod?
By no stretch of the imagination is it at all the time to question Rod Brind’Amour’s ability to field the team and there are plenty of reasons to leave this question out of your mind. Those who would say “yes” can sit at home and eat plain crackers.
First, history is on the side of Rod Brind’Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes.
Last season, at the same point in the season (11/27) the Hurricanes had won 11 games. They would win their 12th on November 29th. Thirteen times, the Hurricanes gave up 3 goals in their first 22 games. They’d been shut out twice. Once on the road against the Florida Panthers (11/9) and the infamous 4-0 at home to the Arizona Coyotes on Thanksgiving Eve. All you heard was rumblings of firing Rod. Especially at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Does anyone have any ideas about what happened in December of last year? The Canes lost one game, in overtime, to the Anaheim Ducks. Remember that? Venom turned to praise like water into wine, and all was well in Canedom.
Remember that? I do.
Secondly. We have seen adjustments being made!
Perhaps, Brind’Amour and his staff waited longer than they should have on Tony DeAngelo to right his own ship. Perhaps not. However, there has been a noticeable impact without DeAngelo in the lineup. And Rod Brind’Amour may well have admitted to that, even forecasted changes to come. Being the professional he is, he was not going to come right out and say who/what the “buy-in” problems were, or how he was going to fix them, BUT if the last three games are any indication, we have an idea.
Since Brind’Amour started Jalen Chatfield with Dmitry Orlov, none of Carolina’s defensive pairings have had a negative night. Furthermore, Orlov has a point, and broke his 4-game pointless streak (all played with Tony DeAngelo) and Chatfield has 2 points. Driving that point home, and making his case, Chatfield’s 2 points (both assists) in 3 games equals DeAngelo’s point total (1G, 1A) in his last 5 games, for those of you who are keeping score at home.
Finally, the Hurricanes are better off this year than they were last year at the same time.
For all the talk of production lacking this year, the Canes have more goals (66), than at the same point last year (61). And, those 66 goals have been without the team’s second-best scorer Andrei Svechnikov. If that’s not enough, last year, the win on November 29th snapped a 5 game losing streak. This year, their longest streak is 3 (games 5,6,7), and that was followed by 3 straight wins.
I am currently reading a book about General George Henry Thomas of American Civil War fame. In it, the author reiterates the early confusion and questionable decision-making within the high command of the Union Army early in the war in juxtaposition to Thomas’s typically sound judgement. People were questioning the abilities of Generals like Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. Those voices loudest calling for their heads, in the end, were the same ones lauding those very same generals by the end of the war. In that regard only (comparing war to hockey does not work) Grant’s and Sherman’s predicaments remind me of that in which Rod Brind’Amour finds himself from certain corners of Carolina Hurricanes fandom. I argue; that to say the Hurricanes are worse off than last year is to folly. Rod Brind’Amour and his staff have the Hurricanes in a better position this year in all the aspects of the game that matter (with more potential for improvement) than where the team was at American Thanksgiving last year. None of the fancy graphs, and certainly none of the hate-filled podcasts are going to convince me otherwise.