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The Carolina Hurricanes open a five-game homestand this week, coming off their weekend back-to-back in Florida.
The Hurricanes split their two games over the weekend, falling 5-2 to the Florida Panthers, before rebounding to shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 on Saturday.
Carolina's season really has been a tale of two different teams to this point, and the road back-to-back was another example of that, to an extent. Similar to what we’ve seen at other points so far, the Hurricanes weren’t great defensively against Florida and didn’t necessarily play with the same compete-level that the team’s reputation is largely based on. Against the Lightning though, it was a completely different story, with the Hurricanes putting together what was pretty close to a full 60-minute effort.
Generally, the Hurricanes have really turned things around after a tough start to the season. Over the last eight games, they’ve managed to go 6-2-0, and have looked much more like the team we've seen over the last few years.
Especially in terms of the team’s defense and goaltending, here’s the comparison over their first six games and past nine games:
- 30 goals allowed over first 6 games (average of 5 goals against per game)
- 19 goals allowed over past 9 games (average of 2.1 goals against per game)
Despite the significantly improved stretch, the Hurricanes are still tied for fifth in the Conference in points percentage, and while it's a fine position, it's still quite a ways below where we normally expect the Hurricanes to be.
Now, the Hurricanes will enter a five-game homestand, with an opportunity to really gain some ground in the standings.
A hope is that Carolina’s offense can really get rolling again. Many of the forwards who got off to really hot starts, in Martin Necas, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Seth Jarvis and Teuvo Teravainen, have slowed down a bit, while Andrei Svechnikov hasn’t necessarily produced as you’d expect since he returned. Sebastian Aho has been as good as ever, but a bit more consistency from other top forwards would be huge. The team has continued to shuffle lines, and finding a bit of stability there as we move deeper into the season would be key.
On defense, Jalen Chatfield and Tony DeAngelo each took a turn as a scratch over the back-to-back, as Brett Pesce also returned to the Hurricanes’ lineup. I think there’s a legitimate argument for reuniting DeAngelo with Jaccob Slavin, with the Slavin-Burns pairing not necessarily being as impactful as last season. While Carolina has generally been much better defensively over the recent stretch, it seems like the team is still figuring out what works.
In net, it’s key that someone is able to take over with Frederik Andersen out. Antti Raanta wasn’t great against the Panthers (despite a good start against Buffalo in the first game since Andersen’s absence was announced), but Pyotr Kochetkov was lights out against the Lightning. Perhaps the biggest question with the team right now is their goaltending situation without Andersen, and the tandem of Raanta and Kochetkov, along with possibly Jaroslav Halak, could be a story of the season.
But the homestand is a great opportunity for Carolina to continue making up ground in the East, after the poor start. They’ll play all five of their games against teams who are ranked in the bottom half of the league in points percentage, as of this writing. They’ll also have lots of time off over the homestand, playing five games across 15 days, following the end of their Florida back-to-back.
The New York Rangers are really pulling ahead for the Metropolitan Division early on, and this is a chance for Carolina to keep chipping away at the Rangers' lead. It’s a huge opportunity for the Hurricanes to continue building momentum, and really propel themselves back towards the top of the Eastern Conference.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM NOVEMBER
- Hurricanes battle back to beat Islanders in OT, split two-game New York set
- Frederik Andersen out indefinitely, Hurricanes sign Jaroslav Halak to PTO
- Hurricanes continue upward trend with overtime win against Sabres