The Hurricanes’ annual trip through Western Canada has long been a headache for everyone involved, but 2019’s trek through the great white north has been anything but.
With five out of a possible six points in their pocket, the Canes have a chance to not only tread water, but gain ground in the standings by the time they return from Winnipeg and Colorado this week.
At the head of their charge has been James Reimer, who with each passing start is erasing doubt that he can keep his game where it currently stands.
In Edmonton, Reimer allowed three goals in a 6-3 win over Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and one of the most dangerous power plays in hockey. His encore performance in Calgary saw him log his second shutout of the season and put an end to the Flames’ seven-game winning streak.
On the road this season, Reimer is 7-3-0 with a .932 save percentage and two shutouts. In total, he’s 7-5-0 with a .924 save percentage, which ranks 11th among all NHL goalies with 700+ minutes of ice time this season.
Like Curtis McElhinney before him, Reimer has proved himself to be the steady and reliable 1B option for a Hurricanes team that can either allow 20 shots or 35 shots on any given night. It’s a difficult task to play solely on the road and be able to provide that level of consistency, but through 33 games, Reimer has been way better than anyone could have expected entering the season.
According to Sean Tierney at Charting Hockey, the Hurricanes have the 11th-best goalie tandem in hockey based on goals saved above expectation - and with the elite special teams units that Carolina is currently putting on the ice, that’ll work.
Warren Foegele’s Next Step
Hidden in Reimer’s marvelous start in Calgary was an impressive showing from Foegele, who scored two shorthanded goals (one on the empty net).
He’s up to 14 points in 33 games this season, which is just one point shy of his 15 points in 76 games last season.
It’s been speculated that, if Foegele could learn how to finish with more consistency at the net, he’d be an excellent offensive contributor in addition to his two-way power game. That theory holds some truth.
With Foegele on the ice, the Hurricanes are producing far more chances in quantity, but also quality. He drives the net with consistency and with added touch around the net, he’d probably have a great deal more than the six goals he has right now.
Still just 23 years old, who knows if that offensive touch can be developed over time, but even if it doesn’t, his contributions to the best penalty kill in the Eastern Conference and quality scoring chance production at 5-on-5 makes him a viable bottom-six forward with the potential to go on a heater in the goal-scoring department.
We saw what can happen when he gets hot against the Capitals in last year’s postseason. He has the tools to be a difference maker, though that doesn’t make it less frustrating when he misses a wide open net from the top of the crease.
His two shorties in Calgary vaulted Carolina to seven shorthanded goals on the season, which leads the NHL.
The Jordan Martinook Effect
The Hurricanes took a commanding 3-0 lead in Edmonton on Tuesday and quickly surrendered three goals to the Oilers the other way.
In danger of blowing a big lead, the Canes desperately needed a shot of energy. On cue, it was Martinook who hopped on the ice on a line change, charged the slot, picked up a loose puck, and deposited it by Mikko Koskinen to give the Hurricanes the lead. The team didn’t look back.
Martinook’s game-winning goal happened in front of friends and family. When he tailed off to celebrate his goal, he saw many of them in the front row at Rogers Place.
His leap into the glass switched the momentum back in Carolina’s direction on a dime and led the Hurricanes back to their game for the remainder of their 6-3 victory in oil country.
Martinook’s impact on and off the ice is talked about a lot, and this season there has been reason to think that his presence has a tangible impact.
In 18 games with Martinook in the lineup this season, the Hurricanes are 13-4-1. In 15 games without him, they are 7-7-1.
Could be coincidence, could be a testament to the energy that all of his teammates say is a big factor in their success. Now an alternate captain with a more visible leadership role, he’s staying himself and the Hurricanes continue to feed off it.