The Carolina Hurricanes went an even 1-1-1 on their California road trip last week.
The trip started with a disappointing shootout loss in Anaheim on Tuesday, featuring a pair of two-goal leads being blown by the Canes.
One night later, the club righted their wrong with an impressive 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings and they capped off the trip with a 4-3 regulation loss to the Sharks despite dictating the play throughout the night.
Some Charlotte Checkers alumni led the way on the road trip, here are the three stars of the week.
1st Star - Derek Ryan
Jordan Staal’s concussion has forced the Hurricanes to increase the role of all their centers, including November 12 call-up Derek Ryan.
Ryan had another strong week, starting with an assist on Jay McClement’s first goal of the season and a plus-one effort in a 6-5 loss in Anaheim on Tuesday.
One night later, Ryan had his big coming out party. He beat Kings backup Jeff Zatkoff twice, including once while shorthanded. It was the first multi-point game of his still-young NHL career.
His second goal may be the goal of the year thus far for the Hurricanes as he and Brock McGinn showed off their high chemistry that has been a common occurrence in Charlotte over the past year.
Ryan went on to net a powerplay goal in San Jose and log a career-high 16:26 of ice time en route to a 4-3 loss to end the road trip.
The journeyman has taken huge steps forward since Staal went on the shelf. He’s been good at even strength and in the faceoff circle and he has been a very valuable asset on Carolina’s red-hot powerplay that was three for seven on the California road trip.
With Staal and Elias Lindholm returning to practice today, Ryan’s five-on-five role may be suppressed upon their return, but his contributions on the man advantage should still be a significant impact.
Second Star - Jaccob Slavin
Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce have continued to star as Carolina’s most dominant defensive pairing.
Slavin posted an assist in each California game and was a plus-two on the trip. In a high-scoring shootout in Anaheim, Slavin posted a ludicrous 28:12 of ice time and was no worse for wear.
Excluding Thursday’s win in L.A., a game in which Carolina was heavily ousted in the shot attempts department, Slavin posted a 37 to 25 (60%) corsi differential.
This is the perfect time for Slavin and Pesce to start leading this defensive core. Faulk’s struggles have been well-documented to this point and we still seem to be a little bit away from getting the best from Noah Hanifin on a nightly basis.
This duo has been a game changer on both sides of the puck because of their high IQ and mobility on the backend. Also, they’re both just 22, so that’s cool.
Third Star - Brett Pesce
Another week, another stretch of dominance from defenseman Brett Pesce.
He launched his first goal of the season in Anaheim and posted a plus-three rating despite a 6-5 loss and followed that up with a plus-two outing in Los Angeles.
Again, excluding the L.A. game, Pesce posted a 40 to 22 (65%) shot attempt differential at even strength on the road trip.
The things said above about Slavin are also applicable here. I’ve always seen Pesce and Slavin as talented two-way defenders, except Pesce would exceed more in his own end and Slavin would do the same offensively. So, in theory, that would make them a perfect pairing and so far, they have been incredible together.
The Carolina Hurricanes now enter a favorable homestand in which they take on the Canucks, Capitals, Sabres and Red Wings at the PNC Arena. They’ll look to extend their six-game home win streak and propel themselves back into favorable standing in the playoff race.