The Hurricanes continued to play spoiler over the weekend, shutting out the Capitals Friday in Raleigh, then blitzing the Islanders for five goals Saturday in back-to-back wins.
1. The departures of Andrej Sekera and Tim Gleason opens the door for some young Hurricanes blueliners to make an impression. Michal Jordan scored his second career NHL goal Saturday, again creeping in on the back door for a power play tally. Brett Bellemore should be back in a full-time role after bouncing between the ice and press box most of the season. AHLers like Rasmus Rissanen could also get a look before the end of the season, and Ryan Murphy should return at some point and get expanded responsibilities. And don't rule out newcomer Jack Hillen, a 29-year-old journeyman who is now with his fourth NHL team in five seasons, who is an unrestricted free agent and will look to make an impression on his new bosses.
2. Jay McClement got his first two-goal game with Carolina Saturday, and less than 24 hours later he had a new two-year contract. It makes for a nice birthday present for McClement, who will turn 32 Monday and is with his fourth team in six seasons. Carolina’s fourth line has jelled, with McClement and fellow 2014 free agent signing Brad Malone blossoming into a formidable duo the past 20 games. Patrick Dwyer, their most frequent running mate on the fourth line, is a pending UFA, and given the success other players have had alongside McClement and Malone it wouldn't be surprising to see Dwyer — a polished penalty killer — moved for a late-round pick before Monday’s trade deadline. With McClement and Malone each signed for next year, the foundation for an effective fourth line is set.
3. Alexander Semin received unsportsmanlike conduct minors in both games for embellishment. On the whole, Semin continues to improve and is back on the top line aside the Staal brothers of late. While the embellishment calls are embarassing, it has not been a recurring problem for Semin since he joined Carolina and isn't a huge concern. But one interesting aspect of the minor called against the Islanders was Anders Lee, the New York player called for hooking on the play, getting in Semin’s face to protest Semin’s dive. Lee has had a fine season, but a rookie has no business questioning a veteran player’s intentions. Semin may not be the most respected player in the NHL, but he does have 600-plus games and more than 500 points on his resume. Lee needs to take a step back and remember that he's a neophyte at this level.
Number To Know
7 — More points Justin Faulk needs to pass Joni Pitkanen’s 46 points in 2009-10 for the most by a defenseman in Hurricanes history. Faulk also has 12 goals, just four shy of the 16 Anton Babchuk scored in 2008-09. Faulk's maturation into a No. 1 defenseman continues, but there's no denying he is growing into the role. With partner Sekera gone to Los Angeles, Faulk will bear even more responsibility. Two games into the post-Sekera era, Faulk seems up to the task.
Andrej Nestrasil — The 24-year-old forward continues to be a difference maker since returning from injury. Nestrasil had two assists in each game over the weekend, and with the departure of Jiri Tlusty has earned time on the Hurricanes power play. Since joining Carolina, Nestrasil has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 20 games and is a team-best plus-7. Honorable mention to Anton Khudobin, who got his first shutout of the season in Friday’s 3-0 win over Washington.
Alexander Semin — There wasn't a lot not to like about the two games, but the one black mark was Semin’s three infractions, two for diving. He was also one of just two players, along with Ron Hainsey, to play both games and not register a point in the weekend sweep.