It feels like it has been months since we saw the Carolina Hurricanes win a complete game. Sure, they have been winning at a somewhat inconsistent pace, but that complete overall game has eluded them for some time. Bits and pieces have shown up - but last night we saw the scoring, great goaltending, good defending, leadership, and special teams all mesh together leading to the 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators.
The Good - Mrazek Gets a Road Win
Petr Mrazek’s recent struggles have been well documented. Going into last night he had only won three of his ten starts in 2020, and he had not won on the road since December 17th against Winnipeg. Going back further than that, you have to go back to November 19th to find his previous road victory.
For a while James Reimer had been getting the majority of the road starts. Recently, though, in what is likely an effort to get Mrazek going, Rod Brind’Amour has been playing Petr more on the road. With just five total wins on the road this year, the Hurricanes need Mrazek to find his game away from PNC Arena.
Last night was hopefully a turning point for Mrazek as he made big saves which helped propel his team to victory. The one goal that did get past Mrazek last night was questionable, and it was even challenged by Brind’Amour for goaltender interference. Despite losing the challenge, Mrazek was able to keep his head in the game and shut down the Predators from there.
The Hurricanes desperately need Mrazek to find his game on the road as there are multiple big matchups on the road in March: at Philadelphia, twice at the Islanders, and twice at Pittsburgh. They have to get some road victories from the guy they want to be the number one and last night could be the catalyst that turns Mrazek’s season around on the road.
The Great - Staal Shines
This season has been a struggle for Jordan Staal offensively. While he will never be a 60 point guy, tallying just seven goals on the year entering last night and 20 points is troublesome. Being named Captain before the season likely added a level of stress to Staal, but his lack of production has been crippling at times to the second and third lines.
Even though the offense wasn’t there, you could always rely on Staal to win faceoffs and be sound defensively. But no matter how good you are on defense, the team still needs some offense out of the guy who is supposed to be, and is being used as, the second line center.
That’s why Staal’s goal last night was huge for him much like Mrazek’s road win was. You could see the excitement on Staal’s face after the puck crossed the line and you could almost sense the relief as well.
Staal is one of the most competitive guys on the team and he takes his struggles personally. He knows he has faced challenges in living up to his massive contract, but he still wants to help the team win any way he can. His goal last night is unlikely to light a proverbial spark under Staal that sends him on a massive scoring streak, but it may do just enough to get something going, which is what the Canes need.
The Best - Do It For The Moms
It may not have been Mother’s Day yesterday, but it probably felt like it as the Canes got their moms a massive gift by bringing home the win. From veterans like Linda Staal, to newcomers like Marlene Reimer, this annuals trip is a blast for everyone involved. But it is always that much sweeter when the teams gets the win.
Mama Reimer reads the lineup and we are ready to run through a brick wall!— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 19, 2020
Game on! pic.twitter.com/lH9Q2A1oxO
From the moment Jordan Staal got the Canes on the board the moms suite was rocking. Nino Niederreiter, Andrei Svechnikov, and Sebastian Aho made sure the keep the party going with goals of their own.
It all culminated with a Storm Surge in the suite after the game and those never get old!
In The End
It was a great overall game for the Hurricanes. Every player was engaged and ready to play a full 60-minutes of hockey which was reflected in the score. Jordan Staal and Petr Mrazek can use their performance to get on track while guys like Svechnikov and Aho continued to stay red hot. There are many things to build off of from last night and hopefully that translates to more consistent success which is the one thing still lacking for Carolina.
Ultimately another great mom’s trip is in the book and now the Canes have to get ready for the pesky New York Rangers who come to town Friday night. The Rangers have been a thorn in the Hurricanes’ side for what seems like an eternity, but if they can play like they did last night it should be a good shot at another big two points.