The Carolina Hurricanes fell victim to defensive miscues and spotty goaltending over the past week, leading to a sub .500 record in the process.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
Despite going 1-2-0, over the past week, it definitely wasn’t all bad. We are seeing this team do a lot of great things, including scoring a lot of goals and succeeding in the special teams department.
A few players have led the way over the past week, so let’s take a look at some of those guys.
1st Star - Jeff Skinner
After sitting out of Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Red Wings due to a mysterious and rather hilarious “middle-body injury”, Jeff Skinner came back and was a dominant offensive player on Friday and Sunday on home ice.
Skinner found the back of the net twice and added an assist in Carolina’s home opener win against the Rangers and followed it up with a two-point effort against the Flyers en route to a loss on Sunday afternoon.
The seventh-year forward put eight shots on net in two games, including six against Philadelphia. He raised his corsi-for percentage to 54.01% in the process as he continued to play a key role on Carolina’s top forward unit.
Jeff Skinner continues to do what he does best, shooting the puck, using his skating ability to his advantage and making big plays when his team needs it. He has been a constant offensive force, acting as a huge threat with the puck on his stick on every single shift.
Perhaps the best thing about his play so far is that he shows no signs of letting up. He is riding a five-game point streak, in which he has found the back of the net four times, has nine points and is a plus-three. He has points in all but one game this year, a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the team’s second game of the season. He ranks second in the league with 1.57 points per game, trailing only Sidney Crosby who has played in just three games thus far.
Skinner has also played a huge role in Carolina’s fifth-ranked powerplay. In 82 games a season ago, he had just seven powerpay points. In seven games this season, he has a team-leading four points on the man advantage.
I can go on and on about how Skinner has elevated his game to new heights, both offensively and defensively, but I’ll spare you of that and move on to this week’s second star.
2nd Star - Victor Rask
Jeff Skinner’s partner in crime has continued to provide the Hurricanes with steady production in all areas.
Victor Rask scored points in all three games this week, extending his career-high point streak to eight games to start the regular season, the longest such streak in franchise history since the 1984-85 season, in which Ron Francis started the year with points in eleven straight games with the Hartford Whalers.
Rask was my first star of the week last week, and if it wasn't for an outrageous weekend from Skinner, he would be again. He has continued to do all the little things right in all three zones, whether it’s positioning himself well in the defensive end, making heads-up plays with the puck on his stick or creating space for his wingers to display their skill set.
The big Swede’s ten points ranks behind only Jeff Skinner amongst Carolina’s top point-getters and his 54.63% corsi number ranks fourth amongst Hurricanes forwards.
The only area in which Rask can really take a big step forward is in the faceoff circle. He is winning just 47% of his draws on the early season, which is actually a bit better than the 44% he was at just a week ago.
3rd Star - Brett Pesce
The points weren’t coming to Brett Pesce through the opening week and a half of the season, but the second-year blueliner found the scoresheet twice with a pair of assists over the past week, including a marvelous breakout pass to spring Jeff Skinner for his second goal against the Rangers.
It’s great to see Pesce start to get rewarded in the points category, but where he has performed the best is in his own end. His 57.14% corsi-for percentage ranks first on the Hurricanes and ninth amongst all NHL defensemen.
He has continued to be a pain to play against as he plays the body well, uses his stick effectively and blocks shots at a team-best rate.
Brett Pesce is very quickly turning into a big time shutdown defenseman and penalty kill maestro at the NHL level, and his offensive instincts suggest that he will be much more than your average bottom pairing shot blocker. He was fantastic this week.