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About Last Night: El Niño Season Begins

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The Canes scored early and often Sunday thanks in part to newcomer Nino Niederreiter.

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Edmonton Oilers Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

On a night that featured a Super Blood Wolf Moon, it was an El Niño that stole the show.

No, not the weather event, but rather the newly acquired forward Nino Niederreiter, who scored two goals for the Carolina Hurricanes during their 7-4 rout of the Edmonton Oilers.

Coming off two straight demoralizing losses, the Canes needed to turn things around and they did just that. It started early and continued often with contributions all across the lineup sending Carolina off to Calgary with two points in hand.


The Good - Svech

Carolina’s young superstar Andrei Svechnikov had been in quite a rut as of late. The year 2019 has been very unfriendly to Svechnikov as he had yet to score a point since the calendar flipped. He was also a minus-four during that time with 14 PIM’s. His last point was on New Year’s Eve when he scored a goal but dating back even further he only had one point in his last 14 games. Needless to say he has hit an ugly rookie slump and he played almost no factor in the Hurricanes’ seven wins in eight games.

While he was a minimal factor in all of those games, he was a major factor last night. Scoring three points in a game for the first time ever in his young career, Svechnikov was the dominant force the Canes need him to be.

It all started with what many thought to be Brock McGinn’s goal, that was credited to Jacob Slavin, only to then be changed to Svechnikov’s.

Svech was hanging out in the right place and was able to redirect Slavin’s bomb past Cam Talbot to get the monkey off his back.

But Andrei was just getting started as he would assist Brock McGinn on his fourth goal of the season.

One thing that’s been noticeable about Svechnikov is his great awareness. He’s often passing the puck to guys in the slot or coming to the slot. Not all of the passes are successful but he’s often trying to make it happen. But none of those occur if he doesn’t outwork the defense and get to pucks first.

His best play of the night was his feed to Lucas Wallmark on a power play entry. This setup Wallmark scoring the game’s fifth goal and it was as perfect as you could ask for.

As we hit the halfway point in the NHL season, Svechnikov has shown tons of promise but there is still a lot to learn for the young Russian. He has to learn how to not take penalties, but that will come in time. Getting some points last night should get him back going which the Hurricanes will desperately need if they want to do anything with this season.


The Bad - Letting off the gas... again

After catapulting to a 6-1 lead just over halfway through the second period, the Hurricanes completely let of the gas which allowed Edmonton to creep back into the game. Carolina has struggled with being able to maintain large leads all season and it’s flabbergasting as to why they continue to struggle with this.

Edmonton made some good plays to get back in to the game - and even turned to some dirty plays - but this is far more about the Canes collapsing than Edmonton’s comeback.

A late period goal by Leon Draisaitl started the the comeback for the Oilers. It was a two on one largely in part because the linesman interfered with Justin Faulk, but either way Brett Pesce failed to take the pass away allowing for an easy tap in.

This goal came with just 19 seconds left in the second period and then the Oilers turned around and scored just 14 seconds in to the third period. Zack Kassian beat Petr Mrazek and not in the same way that he beat Jordan Martinook earlier in the game.

Draisaitl would add another goal later in the third period to pull Edmonton to within two goals and Canes fans everywhere were thinking here we go again. It’s an unfortunate theme for Carolina to let off the gas with a large lead, and while it has only came back to bite them once against Washington, it’s a habit that needs to be stopped.


The Great - Nino

When the Hurricanes announced they had acquired Nino Niederreiter in exchange for just Victor Rask everyone knew Carolina easily won that deal. It took just two games for Niederreiter to score more goals than Rask had all year. The Great El Niño, as he shall be formally referred to from now on, started the scoring for the Canes just 28 seconds in to the game with a snipe past Talbot.

It wouldn’t take long for him to find his second goal as it came at the 11:02 mark of the first period. This goal was all about winning a battle and outworking the opposition.

Was this a soft goal by Talbot? Absolutely. But you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take (-Wayne Gretzky) (-Michael Scott). Shot quality aside, it was a helluva play by Niederreiter who is making an immediate impact for his new team.

Nobody expects Niederreiter to come in and light the lamp 40 times a season, but the Canes need him to create plays and use his body to keep possession of the puck. The scoring will come with that style of play, just as it has for Micheal Ferland. 2019 will undoubtedly be filled with events such as blizzards, tropical storms, blood moons, and more, but everyone in Raleigh may need to soon be aware of the El Nino that’s about to take over.


Moral of the Story

The Hurricanes desperately need to find a way to win these games in Western Canada after their lackluster performances against the Rangers and Senators. The playoff cut-line is creeping further and further away from Carolina but with consistent play like Svechnikov and Niederreiter gave the Hurricanes last night there is still time to claw back in to the race. Last night was an all around team effort that saw the Canes come out motivated to play and win, and that will have to be the exact same as they face off against a very good Calgary team on Tuesday.


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