Skins Game Time for the Carolina Hurricanes

What does “Skins Game time for the Carolina Hurricanes” mean?  It means Jeff Skinner is back!  The talented young scorer was taken off of injured reserve Friday, and will likely play Tuesday night versus the Winnipeg Jets.

His return will undoubtedly be an enormous lift to the ‘Canes, who have struggled to amass 2 points in their first four games. Along with Eric Staal, (upper body injury), Skinner represents the go-to of the Hurricanes’ offense.  Alexander Semin is also a vital part of the offense, but has been dormant so far this season.  Perhaps having the “Skins game” back on the ice will help him find his groove.

Today is the 4th anniversary on Skinner’s 1st NHL goal.

The young Jeff Skinner was early into his first season as a Carolina Hurricane.  On October 20, 2010, the ‘Canes were in Los Angeles at the Staples Center facing off against the Kings.  With the Hurricanes down 2-1 at 14:39 in the 2nd period, “Skins” found the net on a rebound from a slapshot by Anton Babchuk.  His goal tied the game and even though the Kings went on to win, 4-3, Skinner has never looked back as a scorer.  Here’s a look at his very first NHL goal:

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Drafted 7th overall in the 1st round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Skinner has been consistent and reliable as a scorer for the Hurricanes.  The “Skins Game” is a key foundation of any chance that Carolina has at succeeding in their efforts at making the playoffs.  Here is a look at his consistency since hitting the ice in 2010:

Season Team GP Goals Assists Points
2010-2011 HURRICANES 82 31 32 63
2011-2012 HURRICANES 64 20 24 44
2012-2013 HURRICANES 42 13 11 24
2013-2014 HURRICANES 71 33 21 54

A complete look at his stats can be found at his page on the team’s website here.  The numbers confirm that he has been consistent as a goal-scorer and in serving up assists.  Even though his short NHL career has already been marked by injury.

Skinner’s Concussions

Jeff Skinner is only 22 years old.  In many respects he is still a very young man.  But he has experienced more injuries than his age belies.  On October 5th, Skinner was struck in the head by Matt Niskanen in a preseason game versus the Washington Capitals.  It appeared to be a cheap, intentional blow to the head, still surprisingly unpenalized by either the officials at the game or by the NHL.  Niskanen said it was more of Skinner turning his head into his elbow.  Either way, the team later confirmed that Skinner had suffered a concussion.  You can make the call:

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This was at least the 3rd concussion Skinner has had in his short NHL tenure, and definitely not a good thing as far as his personal health is concerned.  His NHL career aside, multiple concussions can have a lifelong effect on an athlete that can greatly impede their quality of life.  In fact, in an article on “Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome,” Medscape.com quotes Dr. David Xavier:

“the effect of multiple concussions over time remains significant and can result in long-term neurologic and functional deficits.”

Is it time for the Hurricanes and Skinner to evaluate his injury/concussion situation – asking why he is seemingly getting hurt so often?  Is it his style of play?  Is it just bad, dumb luck?  Does his prolific scoring make him a frequent target of other teams? Further, does the team need to do more to protect Jeff Skinner, perhaps getting a Tim Gleason to knock some sense into anyone who hits Skinner, letting other teams know this will not be tolerated?  The “Skins game” is too important to this team to allow arguably their most important player, and certainly huge part of their future to continue to allow to be injured.  Obviously nobody knows how or when an injury will occur.  But the ‘Canes need to be diligent in doing what they can to protect this most valuable of assets.

Heading to Canada

This Tuesday night, the Hurricanes will be in Canada to play the Winnipeg Jets.  The team announced today that it is possible that Andrej Sekera and John Michael-Liles could be ready for action.  Regarding Skinner, Coach Bill Peters said, “He looks hungry and ready to go.”

Sekera may not be ready yet, still recovering from the horrendous hit to the boards October 14th against the Sabres.  (By the way, it has been rumored that Andrej is of interest to teams like the Flyers and Rangers.  Chris Johnston of Sportsnet says that Sekera may be traded before Eric Staal, if either were to be traded.)

Captain Eric Staal is said to possibly be ready towards the end of the week, perhaps against the Vancouver Canucks.  No timetable has been speculated as to the return of Patrick Dwyer and Nathan Gerbe – both out with lower-body injuries.  Coach Peters did say that Gerbe is likely to return before we see Dwyer back on the ice.

It can easily be argued that we have not yet seen the real Carolina Hurricanes this season.  All of the injuries have combined to keep the team from yet having played at their full roster strength.

The “Skins game” coming back to the ice will be the first step in the direction of seeing a healthy “Canes squad that can hopefully begin to get some wins and much-needed points.  In case you’re wondering how valuable Jeff Skinner is to the Hurricanes, here’s a compilation of last season’s goals for your viewing pleasure:

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Here’s to a healthy Jeff Skinner and his teammates.  Here’s to Coach Peters getting a chance to guide this team free of injuries for an extended period of time.  And here’s to success in Canada for these Carolina Hurricanes, and the much-needed momentum it will provide.  It’s “Skins game” time, baby!