Last night was another thriller for the Carolina Hurricanes as they dismantled the Winnipeg Jets 6-3. Petr Mrazek stood tall, the power play looked dominant, Sebastian Aho did what Sebastian Aho does, Jordan Staal broke out of his funk, and then there was that 19-year-old kid who stole the entire show with his second lacrosse goal. What a night.
The Good - Another night at the office for Seabass
Is anyone really surprised anymore when Sebastian Aho scores two goals in a game? In a Metro Division filled with guys like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, and more, you have to have a superstar to stay afloat. It’s time to add Sebastian Aho to that list of superstars within the Metro.
On pace to score 48 goals this season, Aho has developed from a shy young Finnish prospect in to the face of the Carolina Hurricanes franchise in just a few short seasons. He’s an ultra-competitive forward with all the pieces. His offensive talent is undeniable and defensive wherewithal shows why he is the best overall player the Hurricanes have had since the young Eric Staal days.
Last night was just another night at the office for Aho, who casually racked up three points with two goals. His first tally came off a beautiful pass from Teuvo Teravainen. The pass is more impressive than the actual goal, but Aho’s chemistry with Teravainen is what makes this goal even possible. They have a sixth sense about where each other are at on the ice and when Aho finds his way to the net, Teravainen finds a way to get the puck to him.
His second goal showcased more of Aho’s natural talent than his first. Nino Niederreiter found Aho entering the zone and Aho was able to kick the puck to himself before walking in on a partial breakaway. A quick move to open the five hole up resulted in goal number two on the night and 20 on the season.
Nino Niederreiter to Sebastian Aho to the back of the net. Aho's 2nd goal of the night and his 20th of the season. He's now tied with Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Artemi Panarin for 5th in the NHL in goal-scoring. 4-2 Hurricanes. pic.twitter.com/XLRucQCB8c— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 18, 2019
While Aho has a long way to go before he enters the legacy realms of Ovechkin, Crosby, and Giroux, he is showcasing himself as one of the brightest young superstars of his generation. The Ovi’s of the world will only be around for a few more seasons, and Aho is showing why he is the type of player who will be replacing those legends as one of the next faces of not just the Metro, but the entire National Hockey League.
The Great - Throw that monkey off your back Captain
Quite possibly the best thing to come out of the Hurricanes’ victory over the Jets, aside from actually winning the game, was Jordan Staal getting the monkey off his back. The Captain has been struggling offensively and been a victim of bad bounces for what feels like the entire season. His last goal came over a month ago on November 14th, and you have to go back to October 26th to find the one before that.
Don’t get anything mixed up, everyone knows Staal is one of the best defensive forwards in the league and the Hurricanes rely heavily on him when it comes to things like winning face-offs and the penalty kill. But you still want to see him score at least some.
Having never reached the 50-point plateau as a Hurricane, it’s always felt like Staal has more untapped offensive potential than we’ve ever seen in Carolina. Currently on pace for the fewest amount of points in his entire career over an 82-game schedule, the Hurricanes have been hoping Staal could turn things around and boost the second line, especially with Erik Haula out. It’s been a real struggle for Staal but hopefully last night he shook the cobwebs off and he can start finding the back of the net more often.
Staal’s first goal of the game came as a result of him getting to the front of the net. Using his large body has always been a key aspect to Jordan’s defensive game and it’s always seemed like he could be extremely effective in front of the net if he showed more of a willingness to go there.
Dougie Hamilton to Sebastian Aho to Jordan Staal. Staal scores on the power play to give the Hurricanes a 5-2 lead in Winnipeg. It's Staal's first goal in 15 games, and it's a 3-point night for Aho through 2 periods. pic.twitter.com/sbLV3YT98q— Brett Finger (@brett_finger) December 18, 2019
You could see the happiness his teammates expressed after Staal scored this goal as they embraced him longer than probably any other goal celebration all year. They know their captain was feeling pressured to produce more and that pressure went out the door with that goal.
You could also see the relief in his face in the post game interview. Staal has never backed away from questions after the game, but they tend to be with him sitting down at his locker while shying away from the camera. He seems genuinely happy in this interview and that can only lead to great things as the team moves forward with the rest of the season.
"Right now, I think our group is close, and we enjoy hanging out with each other. We enjoy our time together."— FOX Sports Carolinas (@CanesOnFSCR) December 18, 2019
-Captain Jordan Staal on the tight bond of the @Canes.#LetsGoCanes pic.twitter.com/JI3d9EweYD
The Amazing - He Did It Again?!?
Is anyone really surprised when Andrei Svechnikov scores a lacrosse goal anymore? Okay, yes, we all are, considering it’s only been done twice ever in a NHL game. The fact that both of those are by the same guy is incredible. The fact that they were both done by a 19-year-old makes it purely amazing. There’s no analysis to be had here, just sit back and enjoy.
IT IS OFFICIALLY THE SVECHNIKOV pic.twitter.com/ioUnAsYmsF— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 18, 2019
Andrei Svechnikov is only 19 years old pic.twitter.com/d53DvM6VRK— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) December 18, 2019
Just wow. Absolutely incredible. All those things that were said earlier about Aho are quickly looking like they can be applied to Svechnikov. Everyone around the Carolinas should be ecstatic that they get to watch these two grow and play together for years to come.
Moral of the Story
If you haven’t already purchased your ticket to the Aho-Svech show it’d be our suggestion you do so soon. PNC Arena will surely be selling out of tickets to see this amazing duo in action as the season moves on. It’s an amazing act and one you do not want to miss out on.
Last night showcased everything there is to love about this Hurricanes team. They came together and played their hearts out from Petr Mrazek, to Jordan Staal, to Aho and Svechnikov. West coast trips used to be the death of the Hurricanes, but this one is proving their strength.
The Jets were no match for the speed and skill of the Hurricanes, which is become a norm for teams around the league. Now it’s on to Colorado as the Canes look to get points in every game of this extended road trip and bring the party back to Raleigh on an extremely high note.