Don’t look now, but the Carolina Hurricanes are first place in both the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.
I know, I know. It’s very early and we’re talking about the Hurricanes, a team that has not made the playoffs since the 2008-09 season. With that said, however, they are 3-1 and have won three straight after dropping their season opener to the New York Islanders in overtime.
So, why are Hurricanes in first? For starters, they throw tons of pucks on net. They had 46 shots in their first game against the Islanders, 40 shots against the Rangers and are currently (as of October 10) second in the league averaging 38 shots a game.
When you pepper goaltenders on a nightly basis, it creates problems for the opponent. They end up spending the game running around their own zone, are forced to be quick with the puck in their own end which usually ends up as turnover, and it also makes the opponent play on their heels.
The team is also getting great play from the likes of Sebastian Aho (6 points), Jordan Staal (5 points), Micheal Ferland (5 points) as well as guys like Justin Williams (4 points), and Teuvo Teravainen (4 points). The club has shown that at least offensively, they have some depth that can put up points, get pucks to the net, and be relentless.
Believe it or not, this team is getting excellent goaltending from Curtis McElhinney. McElhinney, 35, was claimed off waivers by the Hurricanes from the Toronto Maple Leafs and has played well in two games. He is 2-0 with a 2.00 goals against and a .930 save percentage.
If McElhinney continues to play this way, he will definitely play more games than the team’s other netminder, Petr Mrazek. In two games, Mrazek has posted a 3.53 goals against average and a .841 save percentage. He certainly will not earn the trust of his head coach if he continues to struggle.
Speaking of the head coach, new bench boss Rod Brind’Amour is off to a great start. He has his team playing the style of hockey that he wants them to and also has them believing that they are good enough to make some noise this year, two things that are always important for a first-time head coach.
There is a lot of hockey left to be played, but for the moment at least, the Hurricanes are playing well and winning hockey games. In sports, that’s the only thing that matters.