The Carolina Hurricanes sit in 1st place of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference. At 4 Wins 2 Losses and one overtime loss to the NY Islanders on opening the Canes have surprised some around the league and even some of their local fans. You can point to global changes all around the board for Hurricanes organization in the past 12 months. Last March Thomas Dundon a Dallas, TX businessman bought a majority 61% interest in the team. In May of 2018 the team hired Don Wadell as the President and GM. However, the biggest front office change was the hiring of Rod Brind’Amour, former captain, and Stanley Cup Champion as head coach.
Carolina has suffered through terrible seasons over the past 5 years,but have accumulated, and capitalized on terrific Draft Picks. In 2015 they grabbed winger Sebastian Aho in the 2nd round 35 overall of the NHL draft. In 2017 the teams first round selection was Martin Necas who started the year off with the team, and was recently sent down the Charlotte Checkers for some more ice time and fine tuning. Finally, in 2018 the Canes selected Andrei Svechnikov who made the opening roster, and have been playing extremely well. He brings a power game, youth, and some nice size to the roster
Its Sebastian Aho so far that can be given the most credit for the hot start. The 21 year Fin is currently 4 in the league with points (12) and second in the league in +/- (+8). Every time he is on the ice he demands attention from the Canes opponent due to his speed, European style of puck handling savvy, and raw speed. He was an absolute steal for the Hurricanes picking outside the first round and is continuing to develop into one of the games top players. He has recorded a point in each of the first seven games for the Canes.
Aho will need some help from his teammates to keep up the exciting fast paced style of play and continue winning. In the NHL, the Hurricanes have scored the second most goals so far, but have allowed the 8th most goals. There should be a noticeable uptick when Scott Darling returns to starting goal keeper. Petr Mrazek has been filling in, and in some games has played nicely. Carolina returned a some very solid defensive lines in front of him. To date Carolina has been outshooting their opponents by large margins, but have been unable to completely shelter Mrazek from good shots. Last year Mrzaek was one of the statistically least efficient goalies in the NHL. He does have a flair for the dramatic which has kept the games very entertaining
The last thing fans will notice at PNC arena this year is a new tradition started by this young team that loves to have fun. After a win the whole team will line up at mid-ice ice and lead the crowd with a slow clapping sound. All at one time the Hurricanes will skate to the boards with some players spraying ice with a hard Hockey skate stop, and some with jump in the glass. It’s been very well received by the fans and adds a unique ending to games they pick up a win in.
The next three games will feature a home game vs the Colorado Avalanche, at the Detroit Red Wings, and then back home to face the San Jose Sharks. These tests should round out a first ten game subset that will be a good indicator of how a very hot team, might continue to play over the course of the season.