The Carolina Hurricanes are on a 3-game win streak. This is not a drill.
Behind a 31 save performance from Cam Ward, and more offensive brilliance from Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask, the Canes continued to build on their past strong performances to build their largest and first real streak of the year. With that said, let’s get into it.
Ward stands strong
Carolina has been looking for one of their goaltenders to step up for the starting job, and it seems that, if it has not been decided already, that honor belongs to Cam Ward. He was not overly flashy yesterday, but he certainly got the job done in a game in which his team had just above half of the shots that their opponents did—MTL’s 32 to CAR’s 18.
Ward has won all three games during the homestand thus far, and over some pretty strong competition at that. Washington, who is a perennial offensive powerhouse, San Jose, the defending Western Conference Champions, and now Montreal, who had just their 3rd regulation loss in Raleigh last night.
The difference between November Ward and October Ward has been his athleticism and his ability to come through when he is most needed. His save on Andrei Markov in the 3rd period was vintage Cam Ward, and seeing him return to his roots to close out games for the Canes is a welcome sight for any Canes fan—even those who sought his departure this summer.
Hand-eye coordination wins the day—and the game
The theme of last night was creating offense out of nothing, and there are no greater examples than Carolina’s game tying and winning goals. First, Jeff Skinner’s miraculous “kick, but not really a ‘kick’” goal set the Canes’ offense in motion.
There are lots of good things happening on this play. Firstly, Ron Hainsey is shooting with his head up, which means he has a target. I’m not sure why his target is Skinner’s foot, but it works. The point is, you can tell he has a purpose in his action, as opposed to just winging it towards the net and hoping something good happens.
Second, that deflection. Skinner was likely only hoping to deflect it toward the goal for another teammate, but the fact that it went in alone was a bonus. I’ll admit, I thought it would have been called a kicking motion, but it also makes sense as to why it was not.
The go-ahead goal, scored by Teuvo Teravainen, was another deflected Hainsey shot.
Again, Hainsey shoots with his head up and has a target. And Teravainen, as a natural scorer, is in perfect position for a deflection or rebound.
“So why are deflection goals special,” you might ask. While all goals may count the same on the scoreboard, it’s no secret that a goal scored with seconds left or a goal from a player who does not score much can affect both teams psychologically. Deflections are no different.
Besides being impressive feats of coordination, deflections can be seen as particularly deflating for the team being scored on. These goals are often as fluky as they are skill-oriented, and when a team begins losing a game to multiple deflection goals as Montreal did, it can get in their head. I’m not saying these goals caused them to lose confidence because of their nature, but it’s more than likely that the Canadiens began feeling like luck was wearing red last night.
Skinner and Rask resume dominance, Teravainen continues to improve
Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask, along with Lee Stempniak, were the most positive story for the Hurricanes in October. And while they have still performed well, they have not quite kept up the torrid pace they had at the start of the season.
Skinner’s goal was his first since November 5th against Nashville, while Rask’s was his 3rd in four games following a four-game point-less drought.
The pair were spared the load of carrying the offense recently thanks to the strong play of the “TSA” line. In particular, Teuvo Teravainen has stepped into the role he was expected to play when he was acquired over the summer.
Teravainen had a seven-game point-less drought over the end of October and into November, but has three goals and three assists in his last four games. The scoring upside to the young Finn is starting to come to fruition for Carolina, and with a balanced scoring attack, we could see a very dangerous offensive threat in the near future.
Yes, this article is certainly written with rose-tinted glasses firmly planted in front of my eyes. But why not? The Hurricanes have beaten three very good teams in their last three games, and they look like they are, believe it or not, having fun with the game.
When they have fun with the game, they play an exciting brand of hockey. And contrary to what the Montreal media will have you believe, the Hurricanes’ fans recognize good hockey and will always appreciate it. So yeah, I’m cautiously optimistic. But for the first time in a while, it doesn’t feel unfounded.