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Quick Whistles: Hurricanes’ Top Line on Their Way to Making Franchise History

Aho, Teravainen, and Svechnikov are on their way to places few other Hurricanes have ever gone.

Edmonton Oilers v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Five games ago, Rod Brind’Amour decided to put his three best forwards on the same line. Over that span, the Carolina Hurricanes are 3-1-1, averaging four goals per game.

Coincidence? Probably not.

Since being brought together on Carolina’s top forward line, Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, and Teuvo Teravainen have put together a dominant stretch of offensive production that has directly led to more offense from this Hurricanes team that is deeply entrenched in a playoff race that will stretch all the way to game 82.

After a three-point afternoon against the Oilers, Aho has six goals and ten points in his last five games. Svechnikov has three goals and seven points over that span, and Teravainen has four assists and five points. As a unit, they have been on the ice for nine goals for since the line’s formation in Arizona, surrendering just four goals against.

On the season, when those three players are on the ice during five-on-five play, they are outscoring opponents 18-7 in 188:58 of time on ice while controlling 60.19% of the scoring chances.

That’s good, but how good is it? Well, going by each player’s individual production, it’s historically good.

Aho is on pace to set a new Hurricanes franchise record in single-season goal-scoring. He has 33 goals through 58 games, which puts him on pace for 47 goals in 82 games. The current record is still Eric Staal’s 45 goals en route to Carolina’s Southeast Division crown in 2005-06. Something else happened later that summer, I think.

In reality, Aho has been even better than that pace suggests. Over his last 41 games (exactly one half of a regular season’s worth of games), he has 27 goals. The math there is pretty easy. He’s been scoring at a 54-goal pace over his last 41 games, which is phenomenal and makes him one of the very best goal-scorers in the NHL right now.

Teravainen has assists on... a lot of Aho’s goals, so naturally you’d expect him to be on pace for similarly impressive full-season numbers.

And you’d be correct.

The 25-year-old Finn is on pace to break the Hurricanes single-season record for assists. Teravainen is on pace for 62 assists, a healthy increase from his career-high 50 assists in 2018-19. The current benchmark in Hurricanes history is 56, which was logged by Teravainen’s head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, in the 2006-07 season.

Teravainen would be the second Hurricane to have consecutive 50+ assist seasons. Ron Francis is the only player to do that, when he logged exactly 50 assists in 1999-00, 2000-2001, and 2001-2002.

And then there’s Svechnikov, who’s currently third on the club in points.

The 19-year-old has already broken franchise records in his first 140 NHL games, and he is on the way to one of the best sophomore seasons in the history of this franchise. Svechnikov is on pace for 33 goals, 44 assists, and 77 points.

The way he puts pucks in the net is attention-grabbing, but his playmaking has been remarkable this season. His centering pass secured the Hurricanes a point against the Oilers on Sunday.

All three players are on pace to reach 75+ points. If that happens, they will be just the third trio in Hurricanes franchise history to reach 75+ points, each, in a single season. They’d be the first since Staal, Justin Williams and Cory Stillman all hit the 75-point mark, again in 2005-06.

The upside that this trio possesses feels limitless. Though, often times when things seem that way, it really isn’t. Things change quickly in the NHL, but there’s reason to think that this won’t be so quick to change.

Aho and Teravainen are both in season one of five-year contracts. Svechnikov is in year two of his entry-level contract and has years of controllability (cost certainty, to borrow a Gary Bettman favorite) on the horizon.

They won’t always be together like they have been lately, but seeing this chemistry develop in such a short period of time offers up more options moving forward. Perhaps this trio will become the forward version of Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce - for the betterment of the lineup, as a whole, they aren’t always together, but you can bring them together when you need it.

Right now, the Hurricanes need Svechnikov, Aho, and Teravainen together.

Getting on a Roll

The Hurricanes went 1-1-1 in three games over the last week, which was good enough to keep them within a point of a playoff spot with a game in hand, but they’re getting to a point where they absolutely need to rattle off three or four straight wins.

For that to happen, there has to be that consistent “buy in” that everyone talks about. That’s felt like the real issue this season. This year’s team is more talented than last year’s team - I don’t think that’s really up for debate. The problem has never been that they aren’t good enough.

Through 58 games, it still feels like the Hurricanes haven’t peaked yet.

That could be a good thing or a bad thing. It could mean that, over the next few weeks, they will find their game and start to click on all cylinders entering the postseason. Or it could mean that they simply won’t peak and they’ll still be searching for the best versions of themselves when game 82 rolls around in a month and a half.

Now would be a pretty good time for them to go on a roll, but that will only happen if they do some things that they haven’t done all season.

Their next three opponents are the Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Their combined record against those three teams this season is 0-5-0.

Are you feeling lucky?