Hurricanes Puck Talk: “Shooting Swedes” Undress Pickard

Hurricanes win! In a game against the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night, the Carolina Hurricanes notched an overtime shootout win 3-2. It was a game of ebbs and flows for the ‘Canes, that climaxed with the Hurricanes duo of “shooting Swedes” undressing Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard. The nastier goal of the two in the shootout was the first one which was shot by Victor Rask. It left Calvin Pickard looking for his uniform:

In an approach toward the net reminiscent of TJ Oshie, Rask looked every bit the seasoned shootout veteran. I have written wholeheartedly about the current and future potential of Hurricanes center Victor Rask. With each passing game he is steadily validating his spot on the roster, and proving that he indeed belongs in the NHL.

The second “shooting Swede” on tap was Elias Lindholm. Already glossed the “Swedish Beast” by team captain Eric Staal earlier in the season, Lindholm breezed up the ice and put the puck past Pickard. Fantastic!

Elias Lindholm had a breakout season last year. He is still very young. He and Victor Rask are two of the cadre of teammates that I often call the Hurricanes’ “young guns.” Lindholm has not been putting up huge numbers yet this year, but like Rask, he is cementing his spot, and I believe will continue to grow into a reliable offensive threat each night for the Hurricanes. Hurricanes fans are certainly noticing the ‘shooting Swedes.”

No public displays of exuberance, please

What a goal! I screamed to myself. The powers that be in the PNC Arena frown upon displays of exuberance on press row. Hardly able to contain myself, I watched a play unfold that looked like a great fast-break in the NBA. Carolina Hurricanes winger Elias Lindholm fed the puck to Jordan Staal coming out of the d-zone and was credited with an assist on the play. What followed was the “Jordan Staal to Ryan Murphy to Jordan Staal show” as Murphy received the the puck from center Jordan Staal, fired it right back, executing a beautiful give and go. It was a thing of hockey beauty, as Staal finished perfectly, launching the puck past Colorado Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard. Though he would never admit it, chances are Pickard was himself momentarily mesmerized by this rare display of perfect hockey execution:

The goal put the Hurricanes up 1-0 over the Avalanche in the first period. It was Jordan Staal’s first goal of the season, but raher than focus on that, he credited Murphy with “making a great play.”

Nothing in the tank

The Colorado Avalanche came into Raleigh’s PNC Arena fresh off a road loss to the Washington Capitals, 2-1. While they did not appear gassed at the outset of the contest, the Hurricanes did appear noticeably fresher having last played Saturday in St. Louis. 12,965 ‘Canes fans came to watch under a local weather forecast of freezing rain. The weather worries were quickly dispatched when Jordan Staal finished off the “that was incredible goal.”

In the second period, Patrick Dwyer got on the board and extended the Hurricanes lead to 2-0. He took the assist from Brad Malone and slapped one right past Calvin Pickard.

For two solid periods, it looked as if the Hurricanes were the fresher, more determined team. I was beginning to ponder the word “shutout” as a part of the title of this article. Then the third period began and I was promptly dismissing the word “shutout” from my mind.


No sooner had the puck dropped on the third period when Colorado found their “tired legs.” Matt Duchene solved Anton Khudobin at :25:

Matt Duchene’s goal was admittedly very strong. What had been a consistent effort by Khudobin in the first two periods was quickly dispatched. About 10 minutes later, John Mitchell tied the game with this unassisted goal:

Mitchell’s laser tied the game at 2 apiece. Suddenly my notion of “shutout” was turning into an exercise on pondering titles related to the Hurricanes “letting one get away.” The game had devolved from a valiant performance by the Hurricanes, into a display of determination that is characteristic of teams that are potentially playoff-bound. The Avalanche are not the Nashville Predators or the Anaheim Ducks, but they are not a sub-par team. The need to play hard for three entire periods was glaring.

Shoot ’em up time

Anton Khudobin of the Carolina Hurricanes  (Mark Shiver, The Hockey Writers)
Anton Khudobin of the Carolina Hurricanes
(Mark Shiver, The Hockey Writers)

We are back where we started – a regulation game that ended tied at 2 goals for  both teams. This was followed by an overtime period that did not change the score. Bring on the shootout.

As you my know, I recently offered a Radical Fix to Hockey’s Overtime Mess. Since the NHL has not jumped on my idea as of yet, the shootout was on. Carolina Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin regained his form and kept Colorado out of the net and secured the win for the ‘Canes.

The win marked Khudobin’s third in a row. In a season where he has struggled to put games in the “win” column, it was a great result for the team and Dobey. He had a really strong season last year, and has been hit by a combination of a lack of offensive support from his teammates, and the lack of rhythm that comes from being the backup goalie.

The evidence is in the numbers. Carolina has scored only 17 goals in Khudobin’s 12 starts, having been shut out twice. They scored one or fewer goals eight times. Ouch! No goalie in the NHL would stand a realistic chance at sporting a winning record with that absence of offensive support.

Happy Birthday, Coach and “Can I ask you a question about trade rumors?”

Yesterday was the 50th birthday of Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters. The team winning was a very nice present. When asked after the game how it feels to be 50, Coach Peters replied, “I got old fast.”

I had seen a headline come across my phone earlier mentioning that the Los Angeles Kings are possibly interested in Hurricanes d-man, Andrej Sekera. I thought I’d ask Coach Peters personally what affect, if any, rumors have on him as now a head coach. I was pleased at the thoughtfulness of his response:


Coach Peters acknowledged that the team’s position this season mean that other teams are going to come calling, and that there will be speculation about who is or isn’t being traded. But, he said he doesn’t let that bother him.

I like Coach Peters. I believe that he is doing a good job. Yes we all want another Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes. Bill Peters might be the guy to make that happen. But, he must be given the tools (players) to work within his system. He’s changing the culture in Carolina, and that’s good.