The Carolina Hurricanes failed to win a game in October. Instead of rolling over, they came into November looking to climb their way up the NHL power rankings. They won their first four games in November, and players from all over the roster started to contribute and put together strong seasons. Elias Lindholm had one of the best months of his young career, and Riley Nash emerged as the ‘Canes top scorer. The Hurricanes finished the month 7th in the Metropolitan division, but they are stringing together wins and are looking to surprise the league in December.
The November schedule
In November, the ‘Canes went 7-7-1 including a win in Pittsburgh, over the division leading Penguins, at the end of the month. Beating the Penguins helped show the ‘Canes could play with some of the stronger teams in the East. They had their share of success against Western Conference teams beating the Kings, the Stars, and the young surging Flames. The ‘Canes aren’t now threatening for a playoff spot, but the team is not getting blown out of the water in their losses. Six of their loses were 1-goal games, and their biggest loss was by only 2-goals. The individual play for the ‘Canes stood out throughout the roster.
What about the stats?
Cam Ward was the ‘Canes best player in November. He had a 2.10 GAA in 12-games including his first shut out of the season, and long before that. He had a save percentage of %920 and made a total of 317 saves the last month. He cemented himself as the ‘Canes starting goalie moving forward, and was in net for all ‘Canes wins this season. Ward also dazzled the NHL making a save against the Penguins called “save of the year” all over the league. Justin Faulk starting heating up in November for the ‘Canes, as the defenseman lead the team in points. He scored 3-goals, and added 10-assists for 13-points in November, tying the team lead in points with 15. He shares that spot with Riley Nash, and captain Eric Staal. Staal and Jiri Tlusty both scored 5 goals in November, and Tlusty leads the team in total goals with 10. Elias Lindholm lead the team in November with 7-goals, and really started to proved that he is growing into his high pedigree. All these players including Nathan Gerbe, Jeff Skinner, and Riley Nash all upped their point output in November, and will continue to grow and gain line chemistry in December.
The December schedule
The December schedule starts out rough for the team as they host first place Nashville in PNC Arena. They will play 11-times against teams with 10-wins or more, including games against Montreal, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. They also have a home-and-home with a tough New York Rangers team right before Christmas. This month will be a real test for the ‘Canes. They need to get points from these top teams if they want to climb through the rankings. If the ‘Canes can stay healthy throughout December, they should get a boost coming in the new year with the likely return of one of their best players.
Prediction for December
Jordan Staal can be expected to start off-ice workouts to rehab the broken leg he suffered in the pre-season soon. Reports say Staal is “ahead of schedule” in his recovery and that should give the ‘Canes a sign of hope that season isn’t lost. If the ‘Canes can steal points away from some the strong teams they play in December they could make a push for one of the lower playoff spots. To do that they will need to win their games against some of the struggling teams they play in December. If the roster players that heated up in November can continue to put points on the board the ‘Canes can make a push. Jeff Skinner will need to score more goals, and Elias Lindholm hopefully will continue to grow into a star player for the ‘Canes. Don’t be surprised if the team makes a move on the trade front in the upcoming month and fans will really see what direction the organization is trying to take from those moves. What do you think of the ‘Canes November? Will the ‘Canes stay at the bottom of the division, or can the build on November and move up the rankings?
Philip is a Sports Journalist covering the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duquesne University Journalism Grad 2013.