“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players...” -William Shakespeare
Team sports are, by their nature, collaborative. Players who are unable or unwilling to work together will fail. In contrast, those who support each other and play their assigned part will have a far greater chance of success.
In last night’s 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes took this truism to heart. Let’s take a look at the players and the roles.
Dougie Hamilton, Teuvo Teravainen, Martin Necas, Sebastian Aho
These four players combined for two goals, five assists, and a plus-ten rating. Every performance requires some star power, and this group has delivered that of late.
Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt. Every producer wants a big name at the top of the marquee. For this year’s Canes, it’s Dougie Hamilton. In his eighth NHL season, Hamilton has ten goals and fifteen assists. He leads the NHL in goals for a d-man, and he’s a legit contender for the Norris Trophy. Last night, “Doogie” did everything you’d expect of your lead actor. He had the game-winning goal, was plus-3 on the night, and played well both on the power play and the penalty kill.
The game’s second star, Teuvo Teravainen, also had an excellent three-zone night. Teravainen ended with three assists - his third multi-point game in his last five outings. His composure on the top powerplay unit led to several fantastic opportunities that came close but didn’t score.
Martin Necas has quietly built himself a Calder Trophy resume. The rookie has ten points in November. His one-timer last night was his sixth goal of the year, which puts him tied for fifth on the team. He’s doing all this while averaging under 14 minutes of ice time.
Sebastian Aho got off to a slow start in October, with only six points the entire month. But in November, he’s returned to form. His eight goals in November have him tied for the team lead in goals (11). Last night, he went plus-3. His speed and positioning were superb and led him to a few near breakaways. For a guy with 11 goals, his hands still seem below-average for his standards, which is scary when you think about it.
The Engine Room
Brett Pesce, Joel Edmundson, Jaccob Slavin, Petr Mrazek
After the quick one-two punch that Florida applied, Brett Pesce’s goal brought life back into PNC Arena. In the big picture, It’s fair to say that the decision to pair Pesce and Joel Edmundson has worked out. Edmundson is now riding a six-game point streak (he hadn’t recorded a point in his first 17 games). It’s also notable how Pesce looks far more comfortable jumping into the action when paired with Edmundson rather than Jake Gardiner.
Jaccob Slavin, for his part, put in another Jaccob Slavin-like performance. One assist, plus-three, wash, rinse, repeat. The partnership with “Doogie” plays to each of their strengths. Hamilton roams around, looking to create offense whenever possible. Slavin does the dirty work, grinding on the boards, chipping pucks out.
In net, Petr Mrazek got back in the win column at home. It was his eleventh win on the year. Mrazek made a couple nice glove saves and put in a typical performance - 21 saves on 23 shots. Dependable, reliable, Mrazek in a nutshell.
Andrei Svechnikov, (Very Honorable Mention - Keith Yandle)
I know what you’re thinking - Svechnikov as muscle and not a star? While there’s no denying the skill, last night was all about Svech’s toughness. Simply put, the guy has some serious determination. Last night, he further built on his reputation. After taking an unlucky knock (a dump-in from teammate Jake Gardiner hit him squarely in the most unfortunate of spots), he returned to play out the game and seal it with an empty-netter from his own d-zone. His legend continues to grow. Throw hands with Ovi in the playoffs - sure. Score the NHL’s first lacrosse goal - no problem. Seven-game point streak extended - check. You gotta love this guy.
(It just won’t do to ignore Keith Yandle. True, he plays for the Panthers, but that doesn’t matter. Similar to Svechnikov, Yandle was clipped by a dump-in last night. For him, the puck found its way straight to his mouth. After the play was whistled dead, Yandle could be seen clutching his face with bloody hands. He calmly skated across the ice towards the dressing room. While doing this, Yandle started removing several teeth. Then, in the third period, he returned to the game. Say what you will about hockey players...but the guys are tough.)
When a team is clicking, everyone plays their individual role to the best of their abilities. It can be dangerous to try to do too much, and last night the Hurricanes proved how true that is. Everyone did their job, and the payoff was a solid bounce back win.