Well here we are heading closer and closer to the trade deadline. With the season halfway over, I can't help but look back so far and I have a few thoughts to share
1: Isn't it fun this year or what?! Before the season started, I made a personal commitment to enjoy myself this year in a manner I haven't since 2019. That was my first year as a Caniac and it was the most fun year of sports I've ever watched. While it hasn't been quite as fun as that great year, I've still had a lot of fun this year. It's been awesome seeing this team win and win a lot. It's been fun to go to a couple games with my friends and it's been incredible watching this team come together. Still a long ways to go, but hey let's enjoy it!
2: How bout the goaltending we've gotten? Freddie Andersen has regained a form not seen since his Anaheim days. Yes he had some good times in Toronto, but I've never seen him playing like this. That's not to discount Raanta either. As people have said, when he's healthy, Raanta has been incredible. There were some times during the Kraken game I couldn't help but smile watching Raanta out there. This is the level of goaltending that winning teams get. All due respect to the goalies in the past who've gotten us to this point. To Petr Mrazek, Curtis McElhinney, Alex Nedeljkovic, and James Reimer, y'all have my utmost thanks for the memories. Thanks for getting us to the point where we are now and we will never forget you.
3: How bout our coach? Let's give it up for Rod Brind'Amour. When he came to Carolina in 2000, nobody thought he'd do what he's done since that fateful day. Not only has he won a Cup as a player, he's steadily bringing this team back to that glorious time. There are still some things that need to be ironed out, specifically his obsession with rewarding Jordan Martinook with top-6 minutes but other than that, we have no room to complain about this team. Rod's growing with these players too so in a few years, I imagine he'll be a better coach than he already is.
4: Let's give it up to the Caniac Nation. Way back in 2018, this fanbase was struggling and in need of a breath of fresh air. Enter Justin Williams and the Storm Surge. Since then, I can't believe how awesome this fanbase has become. The last time I was at PNC, I was in awe at the amount of young Caniacs waiting to get in for a game. This fanbase has been reignited in a way not seen since 2009 and it's incredible to see. I may have grown up a Penguins fan, but I've since forsaken them and am so glad to be a Caniac.
5: Lastly, let it sink in that this team has a better record than the Cup team. Yes it's true. This year's team has more points than the Stanley Cup Champion team. Hard to believe considering the pedestal we put champion teams on. All due respect obviously to that great team. Also, while we couldn't beat Florida this year in the regular season, don't forget we took them to OT twice in three games. That's still impressive. Yes we have to figure out how to beat them, but the major key is that if we meet them in the playoffs, it's a new slate. Regular season only has one effect on playoffs: where 4/7 games are played at. This team has more playoff experience over the past 4 years than Florida and the other thing to consider is if Florida goes against Tampa at all, then we might not have to worry about the Panthers.
Whatever the rest of the season holds, one thing is clear: this year has been plenty special for this team. We've seen two goalies come in who have played way above expectations. We've seen a defenseman who was much maligned by many come in and not only prove em wrong on the ice, he's also proven to be a standup guy. We've also seen our star players continue to grow and become better, as well as one of them sign a long term contract because he loves it here. All of this has been amazing to watch and even if there's no championship this year, I look forward to watching the rest of this year and one thing is for certain: I haven't had this much fun watching hockey since 2019.