Carolina Hurricanes Coach Peters Can Breathe

Carolina Hurricanes Coach Peters can breathe.  Last night in their game against the New York Islanders, his team got 3 things done they desperately needed:  They started strong, were effective on the power play, and left Long Island with a win.  After a loss at home to Columbus this past Sunday, and a horrific night in Buffalo wherein they lost the game, 2-0, and center Jordan Staal to a broken bone in his lower right leg, oxygen was starting to be in supply for the coach.  Sure it’s only the preseason, but last night’s positive performance in New York brings fresh air to the coach and fans alike.

In Tuesday night’s 3rd period, Staal was checked into the boards by Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges, they tangled, went to the ice and Staal stayed down until assisted off by a trainer.

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The team website says, “A timetable for his recovery has yet to be determined.”  The ‘Canes are left with a significant void at the center position, one which will need to be effectively filled as the regular season approaches.

Nassau Coliseum’s last a Good First for the ‘Canes

In the Islander’s first preseason home game, and their last at Nassau Coliseum, the Hurricanes got the breath of fresh air they have been looking for, and came out on top, 4-2.  Their first preseason win contained 2 elements that have been deemed essential for this team to have success this season: a strong start and a good power play.  Ryan Murphy slapped one into the net in the first period one a power play to get things started on the right track for the ‘Canes.  The 21-year old Murphy is proving slowly that he belongs in the NHL.  He played 48 games last season for Carolina and 22 for their minor league affiliate Charlotte Checkers.  He’s trying to squeeze into a tight defensive roster, and I believe he may very well see more playing time this season.

Jeff Skinner kicked off the 2nd period with a nice power play wrister to make it 2-0.  Skinner is only 22, and is coming off his 2nd 30+ goal season since being drafted #1 by the Hurricanes in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.  For the ‘Canes to have any sniff at the

Jeff Skinner (Hammersmith Studios- Greg Thompson)
Jeff Skinner (Hammersmith Studios- Greg Thompson)

post-season, “Skins” will have to be prolific once again.  His goal and its timing last night are the prescription for Hurricanes success – strong start and the power play.  Last season saw too many games where Carolina was down early and a power play that was ineffective.  Skinner is one of the “young guns” on this team that can make a serious difference.  I believe he will.

Another Power Play Goal and Great Goaltending

Period 3 saw the Hurricanes slap in another power play goal as Andrej Sekera took the assist from Skinner and Murphy and banged the puck home.  Again, significant because this was a power play goal and extended the ‘Canes’ lead to 3-0.  A strong start and a good power play are key to the Hurricanes being successful.  Did I say that already?  Sekera is another piece of the defensive puzzle in Carolina that will hopefully grow into the plan that Coach Peters wants to implement, and continue to be an asset on the ‘Canes’ end of the ice.

Drew McIntyre was slated to play half the game and then be relieved by Anton Khudobin (not Cam Ward).  He was in the zone and having a good time so Coach Peters let him stay in-goal to the end.  He made 28 saves on 30 shots and did a really nice job.  Might he be getting closer looks from the GM and coach?  He is 31 years old and has played in only 6 NHL games in his career, so it is not likely Cam needs to get nervous.  But, his outing on Sunday was nearly as clean-looking as Anton’s was on Tuesday or Drew’s was last night.  McIntyre gave up 2 goals in the final stanza, Nathan Gerbe added one more for Carolina, and the Hurricanes closed it out 4-2 winners.

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Obviously, it is Just the Preseason

Everything is moving and in a state of evaluation.  But a nice outing in their 3rd preseason game undoubtedly took a little pressure off of Coach Peters, and gave the fans some nice things to think about.  Still, there are hurdles to overcome.  Who will take Jordan Staal’s place at center on his line?  Will it be Victor Rask?  What about Eric Staal?  Will he be completely healed and ready to go on when the season starts, or will he still be recovering from his core-muscle surgery?  Will Semin’s hand be good to go?  Last night was nice in that instead of gripping hard for his first win, Coach Peters can teach, drill, and train with a bit more confidence.  Instead of rolling their eyes, ‘Canes fans can say, “I like that.  Maybe we will be good.”  But obviously, it is just the preseason.