As you all know, I'm someone who tries to read anything and everything written about the Carolina Hurricanes on the web. In the last week, the level of interest across the NHL in young Jeff Skinner has gone from whitecaps of curiosity to something more like a tidal wave of hyperbole. Before the highs get too high (or the subsequent lows get too low), if there was ever a time for everyone to step back and take Eric Staal's words of advice to this kid, let's do it now.
However, just so you know, I've linked up much of what they're saying, after the jump. Also, pregame news from the Canes and Flyers camps, reactions to the re-vamped All Star Game format, updates on the prospects, and the usual look around the NHL blogosphere.
Being Jeff Skinner
Skinner setting pace - Luke DeCock, NewsObserver.com Jeff Skinner awoke Wednesday morning to find himself standing alone atop the NHL's list of leading rookie scorers, with 15 points in his first 15 NHL games.
Skinner plays up a storm with Canes - Edmonton Journal The baby-faced rookie with the veteran's skills says there are a few reasons why he was able to slip into the Canes lineup..... He's also playing in a market that doesn't chew up its young; at least, not if they are in the National Hockey League.
A great read from a Montreal hockey blogger, I spotted this next story featured over at the Oilers' blog Copper & Blue, were they have an 18 year old of their own to worry about. The author takes a look at the risks that come with playing/rushing 18 year olds in the NHL. I am not yet sure how to apply this to the Skinner story, but I'm very glad I read it through for the context and concerns it raises. A Theory of Ice, Game 9: "Next"
EJ Hradek's story is behind a paywall at ESPN's Insider site, but here's the teaser: If Jeff Skinner keeps it up, he'll rival Teemu Selanne and Alex Ovechkin for best rookie year ever - ESPN
Another headline to wonder at from MSN.com: THE NEW KID: Hurricanes might have a prodigy on their hands which was linked in the fanposts by Canes Country regular PittsburghCaniac
The Fourth Period :: Rookie Watch :: No. 1 Look out! Skinner just picked up seven points in four games and leads all rookies, and the Hurricanes, in scoring. Apparently Bob Wage made a good case last week.
From TSN's Scott Cullen in his weekly NHL power ratings:
Is it too soon to call the 'Canes Jeff Skinner's team (eight points in the last six games for the 18-year-old rookie)? Okay, it is, but let me know when the time comes. I'll wait.
Here's a more thoughtful story from the blogger we know as Great IcePectations for his LA based hockey audience: Jeff Skinner: Exceeding Expectations | Pro Sports Blogging
And finally something slightly more down to earth, Growing up on the go: Rookie journeys from juniors to NHL - CBSSports.com with this from another Canes rookie, 24-year old goaltender and Skinner's roommate Justin Peters.
"Our schedule has been pretty crazy," Skinner’s roommate, Justin Peters, said. "We haven't had much time at the apartment, maybe only had a couple of meals there. We really haven't had a chance to get settled in yet."
Local Game Previews and links
If you missed hearing Head Coach Paul Maurice in a typically dry-witted hockey conversation with TWC14's Mike Solarte this morning, you can listen to it here.
Gameday: Hurricanes vs. Flyers - Tracking the Storm Fueled largely by two seven-goal outbursts over its last four games, Carolina now finds itself in second place in the Eastern Conference with 48 goals. The Canes have netted 28 of those over their last four games, with 11 different skaters scoring goals.
Canes Now - Tlusty feeling stronger every day The former first rounder is coming off serious knee surgery and is contributing nightly on a line with Brandon Sutter.
Hockey fans vie for All-Star volunteer positions - News14.com with some video of the event at the RBC last night. Canes Country's story and discussion of the opportunities for the volunteers is here.
Looking at the Flyers
While Tuesday's game certainly had a "rookie battle" storyline, tonight's matchup features the two freshman who are at the top of their respective charts right now. Great story on "Bob" from Puck Daddy. Dmitry Chesnekov chats with Flyers' Sergei Bobrovsky about being NHL's top rookie goalie, Chris Pronger and battle to be Philly's No. 1
On The Fly - Official Flyers blog - Leighton skates with Team, and also looks at how two days of team bonding, rest and relaxation brought another positive note to the Flyers.
Teamwork on the links brings Flyers together | Philadelphia Daily News | 11/10/2010 Yesterday, they whacked balls on one of Pinehurst's eight courses - instead of pucks - and walked the streets of the quaint and charming southern town. Laviolette spent parts of five seasons coaching the Hurricanes, tomorrow night's opponent, an hour up the road in Raleigh.
NHL ASG REAX
A lot of stories, mostly very positive on the newly revamped ASG format. If nothing else, everyone is talking about a hockey game in Carolina, and that can only be a good thing.
There's now a Twitter hashtag movement going to name the two teams. Check out the suggestions of the hockey masses here at #NameTheAllStarTeams
Shanahan sees entertainment value in new All-Star format - 2011 NHL All-Star Game NHL VP Brendan Shanahan said the new format for the All-Star Game will take players back to their younger days, and bring some new fun to the event.
NHL All-Star Game: Where Fantasy Hockey Meets Real Hockey - Forbes The NFL and MLB have tinkered with all-star game dynamics in recent years in an attempt to create more buzz, but the NHL is the first to embrace the enormous popularity of fantasy sports by having captains select their own squads.
Short of nixing event, All-Star changes work - Cross Checks Blog ESPN's Pierre LeBrun gives us his take.
Reaction From Flyers on New All-Star Game Format The Flyers react to the new team-picking format of the NHL All-Star Game, with comments from Danny Briere and Chris Pronger that hint at how much fun the draft night in Raleigh could be.
Red Light District: New All-Star Game Format Has Upside First, fantasy sports are a billion-dollar industry with tens of millions of players on this continent. What better way to grab their collective attention than having the pros themselves take part?
The New NHL All-Star Format, Trying To Care, and Chaos from the View from My Seats blog: The NHL will try something new this year by letting the captain’s choose their own teams. Chaos may ensue. Another scenario: what happens if Crosby is captain and chooses Gonchar over Malkin?
And of course, you need to check in with the Canes Country poll and the discussion among many of the fans here in Raleigh who will be in the stands come January.
News from the Prospects
Updates from Charlotte and a couple other picks from 2010 draft doing well
Checkers to host Isles affiliate tonight/tomorrow | Checkers Chatter Including 4-minutes of great audio with Zac Dalpe, talking about transition from Raleigh to Charlotte.
In the System: Checkers Rounding Into Form - another great post from Paul Branecky at Tracking the Storm. Also looks at UMD Defenseman Justin Faulk's contributions so far as a true freshman.
Shugg brings two rings from Windsor to St. Mike's: Fourth round pick Justin Shugg is proving to be clutch for his OHL leading team:
"He's the guy you have on your team when you're down 2-1, he ties it up for you, or if you're ahead 2-1, he gets that third goal that gives you a bit of a push, so he's a home-run hitter."
Confessions of a Tampa Bay Lightning writer - From The Rink Cassie McLellan weighs in with this account of a reticent fan who thinks her teams' success might be just too good to be true.
Chicago Blackhawks: Offense sputters again in Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 loss - chicagotribune.com A recap from the WIndy CIty as the Chicago Blackhawks lose their fourth straight at home and have lost seven of last 10 overall.
Have we reached the nadir in Newark? Looking at the downward spiral that is the New Jersey Devils this season is long time Devil's fan Greg Wyshynski with Video: Ilya Kovalchuk's epic shootout fail for Devils vs. Sabres - Puck Daddy
There was a debacle in Pittsburgh's Consol Center where the Penguins lost 7-4 to the Boston Bruins last night, surrendering five goals in the final frame. Penguins are now 7-8-1, with a 2-5 record at home.
Or how about the bizarre 8-1 blowout loss by the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues to the Columbus Blue Jackets. What's worse? The Blues' leading point getter TJ Oshie is out for the foreseeable future with a broken ankle.
On a lighter note
UPDATE <from 5:45pm>: This link to Greg Wyshysnki (aka original Puck Daddy) talking Carolina hockey with Mike Solarte this morning just popped up thanks to Twitter. Hear his thoughts on the Hurricanes, the Southeast Division, the new All Star Game format. Audio lasts 15 minutes.
From one of my favorite funny men of the NHL blogosphere responds to the controversy following recent comments from the inimitable Brian Burke: Down Goes Brown: An NHL fan's guide to booing
Movember progress photos for Brandon Sutter and Justin Peters. Just wow.
Finally, the latest installment in the College Night Tailgater promotional ads. Another winner featuring Jussi Jokinen, Brandon Sutter and, donning the grill-meister's apron, John Forslund, is now out. See it here.