What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object?
Or in this case, what happens when the Carolina Hurricanes, who had won just one single game in Vancouver this millennium, face off with the Vancouver Canucks, who have yet to win a game this season and who set an NHL record for most losses after blowing multi-goal leads to start a season.
Well it seems that the answer is that the actually good team is going to win as the Canes defeated the Canucks 3-2 Monday night at Rogers Arena to finish off their five-game, 13-day road trip with a 3-1-1 record.
It wasn’t the prettiest win by any stretch of the imagination, but the Hurricanes dug deep after a long time on the road and found a way to keep the pressure on the Canucks and hold them off with a strong third period.
Let’s take a closer look at last night:
Martin Svechnikov? Andrei Necas? Svechnicas? Necikov?
Whatever you want to call them, the truth of the matter is that the two young forwards have been far and away Carolina’s best players so far this season.
The pair connected on the first goal of the game last night against the Canucks as Necas threaded a perfect cross-ice pass to Svechnikov for the one-timer blast.
It was the fifth goal that the pair have connected on, with all five having either as the primary passer. It’s an evolving chemistry that has really pushed the Hurricanes to a great pace to start the season and it should continue to grow as the year goes.
Svechnikov is currently tied for the league lead in goals (7), and it looks like he’s finally emerging into a star while Necas is playing with confidence and it seems that his brain and hands are finally able to keep up with his explosive skating.
In fact, the whole second line has been dominant, but it is sort of comical that so far, their center, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, has only two points when the pair have been exploding offensively, but his impact goes beyond the scoresheet.
He’s creating space, winning faceoffs and board battles and most importantly, he’s getting the puck on the stick of the most dangerous players.
With a 66.27 CF% and 64.79 xGF%, you can see just how impactful his line has been in terms of even strength possession numbers.
Even if he got a bit unlucky last night, setting up an assist for a Vancouver goal... with his face... ouch.
The Mystery of Goaltender Interference
It took only six games for nonsense to come to the forefront once again in regards to officiating.
Midway through the first period, the Hurricanes thought they were going to have a 2-0 lead with a loose puck deflecting in off of Paul Stastny’s skate, but for whatever reason, it was immediately waved off for goaltender interference.
So Carolina challenges that, but the call on the ice stands and Canes are denied a goal and are penalized for a delay of game, which Vancouver scored on.
So what is bizarre, is that the contact with Thatcher Demko was initiated by Curtis Lazar pushing Stastny deeper into the crease.
So why was the call not overturned then?
According to the NHL, it was because Stastny had a “significant presence in the crease.”
I mean sure, Stastny entered the crease, but he didn’t potentially impair Demko until Lazar pushed him in. It’s just frustrating because there will be dozens of goaltender interference calls that will go the opposite way of this one because that’s how NHL officiating works.
If the rule is to just not go into the crease, then sure, but call it like that all the time. And for goodness sake, change the wording of your rulebook so we can finally understand these things.
Sort of like the kicking motion for goals.
Jesper Fast’s goal counted because it was deflected off the side of his skate instead of a toe-swing kicking motion. The NHL changed that interpretation to allow those skate deflection goals, which is why Fast’s goal counted.
Maybe do the same with goaltender interference.
Sebastian Aho extended his point streak to five games, scoring the second goal against Vancouver, and now has four goals and nine points in that streak.
He’s continuing to be one of Carolina’s top players and it’s good to see him have a strong start to the season.
It hasn’t been as smooth sailing for his linemate, Teuvo Teravainen, but for Aho to pick up the slack while Teravainen finds his game, is huge for the team.
Aho is currently tied for the team lead in points with Andrei Svechnikov, each having 9, and it begs the question will Aho finally be dethroned as Carolina’s top goal and point getter this season, titles he’s held for five-straight seasons?
Maybe, but what’s true is that Aho will continue to set the pace for this team with his ultra-competitive spirit and world-class talent.