The injury bug reared its ugly head early for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. Five important players have already went down for the Canes (Both Staal brothers, Andrej Sekera, Jeff Skinner, and Patrick Dwyer) and Nathan Gerbe left late with an injury in the most recent game. Despite losing these veteran players the team has stolen points in the last two games, including a shootout loss to the reigning Eastern Division champions the New York Rangers. Fans might be disappointed the wins aren’t pouring in, but it is important that inexperienced players gain in-game experience and pick up at least one point in as many games as they can. So far, so good.
Elias Lindholm & Victor Rask
These two have held down the second line for the Hurricanes this season, and they are getting more experience and more confidence with each shift. So far they have been the most frequent line (with Nathan Gerbe) at a frequency of 14.88% in the first four games. Victor Rask lead all forwards in shots against the Rangers and was all over the offensive zone. He has also won 59% of his face-offs on the season. Elias Lindholm’s stats won’t jump off the page, but the first four games show a more comfortable player. Lindholm was making the right plays against the Rangers. He was finding open passing lanes on the power play, fore-checking tough in the offensive zone, and was getting decent shots on net. The two young Swedish players are starting to gain more experience playing with each other and expect them to start adding to the point totals as they mesh in the top six while the veterans heal up.
Chris Terry & Zach Boychuk
Talk about making the most of the opportunities at the NHL level. Chris Terry got the call up the big squad and responded by scoring two big goals that helped the Hurricanes steal a point from a struggling Buffalo Sabres. Despite the two regulation goals, he didn’t receive any ice time in OT. Terry opened up the scoring against the Rangers, scoring the only goal for the Hurricanes. That goal earned him his time OT. Since being called up he has made scoring opportunities for himself and for the rest of the team. Zach Boychuk didn’t get much ice time in his first game, but in 9.25 minutes against Buffalo he registered a goal and an assist. Terry and Boychuk have meshed well together since their call up, and both players will give solid production for bottom six players when the healthy veterans return.
The young Ryan Murphy was a healthy scratch for the season opener. Since then he has played 20 minutes in every game. Murphy looked shaky at times in the defensive zone, but he has a knack for getting the puck on net. He had three shots in each of his first two games, and then lead all Hurricanes with seven shots against the Rangers. Murphy was the most with veteran Jay Harrison, who can make up a little for Murphy’s mistakes in the defensive zone. Murphy had an assist on the Canes only goal against the Rangers. Murphy will keep getting time on the blue line, and the more time on this ice will only help the former first round pick.
Every fan wants to see their team jump out of the gate and win as many early games as they can. Canes fans need to look at this season in perspective. The injuries for this team are getting to the level of absurd. With the depleted roster for the Canes need to steal as many points as they can until their top players start to get healthy. I also don’t want to overlook Anton Khudobin. Khudobin put on a show in net for the Hurricanes last night, and in my opinion stepped and proved he is the starting goalie moving forward. He made a bunch of great saves including shutting down Rick Nash after he pick pocketed a defender and was left all alone in front of the net to help push the Canes to overtime. The Canes haven’t won a game yet, but still have two points. With all the injuries the Hurricanes need to get one point at a time and work on getting young players game experience.