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A Level-Headed Analysis of the Hurricanes’ Undefeated Preseason

A thorough look at what has been a dominant preseason for the Hurricanes.

NHL: Preseason-Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: Currently 4-0 in the preseason, the Carolina Hurricanes are already inspiring hot takes the likes of which haven’t been seen in these parts in many moons. Longtime Hurricanes fan Clancy “Mick” McFlatiron, who stumbled across the NHL’s draft lottery in April and immediately latched onto the Hurricanes because, in his words, “Dahlin is too close to what I called my ex-wife,” asked to share his thoughts on the Canes’ preseason, and we readily agreed.

Is it possible to win a Stanley Cup in the preseason?

I know, it’s a silly question to ask, because we all know the answer...

Yes. Yes, it is.

The Carolina Hurricanes are off to an unprecedented 4-0-0 start in the 2018 preseason, which has the entire hockey world watching with their mouths agape, wondering if this truly might be the year that the professional hockey club in Raleigh finally takes its step forward into national relevance.

A team can only be as strong as its goalie. That’s a lesson that the Hurricanes have learned all too frequently over the past decade. That said, if the Vezina Trophy was going out today, I think I know who would be bringing it home.

Scott Darling.

The fact of the matter is that the second-year Carolina goaltender has allowed just one goal for every two games he has played in to date. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic. One that demands you to sit back and just truly think about things.

We can’t talk about unbelievable player performances without talking about Spencer Smallman, who was averaging two assists per game. It begs the question, why would the Hurricanes send such a productive rising star down to the minor leagues? That is the million dollar question.

To that end, perhaps the most shocking development of this preseason is the coaching staff’s usage of goaltenders. On multiple occasions, the starting goalie was pulled after just 30 or 40 minutes. What does this say about the trust, or lack thereof, that the coaches have in their goalies?

It makes you think.

Another thing to think about over the coming days is; should there be a three-way tie for the Calder Trophy? I would debate that the answer to that question is yes.

Martin Necas, Andrei Svechnikov, and Warren Foegele have all had remarkable preseasons, so I think it is appropriate that we go ahead and just pencil them all in for the Calder.

Where there is good, there is also bad.

Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen have combined for all of zero points since the start of the preseason. Perhaps their magic is just gone. Maybe they have given up.

Speaking of giving up, Victor Rask’s performance has been pretty forgettable. He struggled a bit last year, but this year he hasn’t really been noticeable on the ice. Like, dude, where are you? What do you do here? I’m not going to cut him any slack on this one. He’s just not cutting it right now. No matter which way you slice it, he just has to be better if he plans on making the cut this year.

And for those of you who have said “oh, Jordan Staal isn’t a very good offensive player”, joke’s on you. He’s a point-per-game player right now, and he scored one of the most skillful goals of the preseason.

The primary assist on that goal from Staal came from Jaccob Slavin, who is undoubtedly on his way to a Norris Trophy season. He is averaging 2.5 points per game! That’s wild! That might be an NHL record.

When did Bobby Orr put up those kinds of numbers?

Oh, that’s right... Never.

While the performances have been good for the soon-to-be Stanley Cup champion Hurricanes, they are undoubtedly missing the contributions of Lee Stempniak.

Stempniak is averaging more than a point per game with the Boston Bruins. Why did the Hurricanes just let him walk? Lee Stempniak is showing everyone that 35 is the new 21. That guy is young, spry, and ready to show that the Canes made a mistake letting him go.

But at the end of the day, we know one thing to be true. Like my favorite breakfast cereal, the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t just good... they’re great.

Now, does this mean that the entire league should be afraid of the Canes? Should the league just go ahead and carve the names of Patrick Brown and Greg McKegg onto the Stanley Cup? Will the Hurricanes be the first undefeated team in the history of the NHL?

It’s really impossible to say...

But yes, they should do all of those things.