The Carolina Hurricanes pulled off an amazing win against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night. A tad over 10,000 “Caniacs” began heading for the exits when Jeff Skinner put the puck past Senators goalie Andrew Hammond with just :04 seconds left in the game. Hammond had been stout, having given up only one goal up to that point.
Tied at two, the ‘Canes were able to get the puck to Jordan Staal who knocked it in for the three-on-three overtime win. The Hurricanes had pulled a miracle win out of a sure loss, and added two points to their lowly 10 that had previously. Ottawa left Raleigh a point, but more importantly for Carolina, their win came at the hands of the players they need to be scoring and helping them to win more often.
The ‘Canes offensive stars thus far have been only shimmering – emitting a soft light, instead of burning bright. Hopefully Saturday night lit a fuse that will get them on fire.
The Sky has Been Dark
The Hurricanes’ October this season was much better than the one they had last year. Of course they had lost Staal last October to injury and Skinner was reeling from another concussion. But the “0-for” that they started with last October put them in a hole that they could not climb out of, and the season was basically over before it got started.
This year Staal and Skinner have both been on the ice for every game and are playing significant minutes. Staal is averaging 16:52 TOI per game and Skinner is averaging 15:47. Along with Jordan’s brother and team captain Eric Staal, the trio makes up three of the offensive stars on this team – on paper that is. The sad truth is that what Skinner did against Ottawa was a rarity so far this year:
Skinner was rookie of the year for the 2010-11 season, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy at age 18. Drafted seventh overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Skinner established himself from the start of his career as a proficient forward, putting up 31 goals and 32 assists.
But concussions can change a player, and unfortunately for Skinner he has had more than his share. Still young at 23, Skinner has had two 30-goal seasons, but last year netted only 18 goals and 13 assists. During the summer, the word was out that Skinner was available:
Jeff Skinner's name out there quite a bit. Four more years at $5.725 M cap hit ($6 M salary). Carolina definitely open to moving him…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 24, 2015
The sad truth is that there were no takers. This once bright star for the Hurricanes had lost his luster, and questions loomed and still circle as to whether or not Skinner will be able to return to his previous scoring form. The fans are buzzing about his goal in the final seconds that tied the Senators, but the team needs Skinner to be Skinner and light the lamp more often.
Jordan Staal scored the winning goal Saturday night.
It was his third game in a row scoring a goal. Frankly, it’s time – past time for the big center to be scoring and making a positive impact on games. Before last season started I posed the question, “Hurricanes Fans, Is Jordan Staal Overrate and Overpaid?” A year later and the question at times still seems valid.
Sure he’s scored in the last three games and got the game winner Saturday night. But, we are 14 games into the season and he is just getting going. Staal has six points. As a leader on this team he needs to have much more, especially if they have any notion of having a winning season.
In his last 5 games, Jordan Staal has 19 shots on goal. He had 9 shots in his first 9 games. #Canes
— Cardiac Cane (@CardiacCane) November 8, 2015
As a star on this team Jordan Staal is starting to shimmer, but he needs to shine consistently, white-hot and bright.
Eric Staal has been turning it up lately much like brother Jordan. He has four goals and five assists this season. But, the same observations about Jordan are the same when it comes to Eric. He must be more productive for the Hurricanes to become a winning team.
He’s the captain, the team leader. He has to lead by example so that the “young guns” as I’ve been calling them for over a year will see what hard work and leadership looks like. Sadly, I see more and more comments like this on social media:
The bottom line is that Eric Staal is a star that is shimmering but not shining – yet. If somehow he and Jordan and Skinner could get hot for a stretch of games, this team would quiet a lot of complaining. We all know they can, it’s more a question of will.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.