Hurricanes Sitting Pretty

The Colorado Avalanche got to say their farewells.

Captain Gabe Landeskog paraded Lord Stanley’s fabled Cup around the ice, raised over his head one last time in victory amidst a sellout crowd of cheering Colorado fans. Even former teammate Jack Johnson, now manning the blue line for Chicago (that opening night’s opponent) came out of the visitor locker room to be present with his teammates as the Avalanche raised their championship banner into the rafters to hang forever. After all, such festivities are expected, even mandatory, for a Stanley Cup victor.

But those who didn’t come out on top did not begin their season with such a sense of closure. After suffering a crushing defeat in Game 7 against the New York Rangers last playoffs, summer came early for the Carolina Hurricanes. To be sure, the season was a fantastic one, and the roster harbored every hope of being on the cusp of something special. But before the Canes could retake the ice this year, there was waiting, there was some roster turnover, there were big adds such as Brent Burns, there were players recovering from injury such as Frederik Andersen, and even when hockey did return, there was a lengthy training camp and preseason.

Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis celebrate a goal during the season opener against Columbus.

Finally, October 12th rolled around and there were the Hurricanes, dressed to the nines in their throwback uniforms and ready to deliver on the vast potential this team has been displaying over the last couple of years. The game began, and then….nothing. For a full period. 0-0 after 1. 11 seconds in, Patrik Laine sniped one past Andersen and all of a sudden, Carolina trailed to start their season, just like that.

Carolina has a roster packed with potential, but in order to take the final step not only to being contenders but to being Stanley Cup favorites, guys like Seth Jarvis and Martin Necas needed to take the next step. Andersen had to be healthy (not that the Laine goal could have been helped). Andrei Svechnikov needed to become a superstar. Fast forward 5:01, and we were treated to the first wave of this process.

Seth Jarvis snuck a backhand into the back of the net, and the game was Carolina’s from there. Martin Necas had a three-point night, Andrei Svechnikov capped the game off with a goal, and Andersen stopped 31 of 32 shots for a .969 save percentage. Canes win, 4-1. And they were off.

Through the first six games of the season, with a game against the Islanders coming up next, the Hurricanes stand atop the Metropolitan division at 4-1-1 with 9 points. While the composure of that division is unexpected so far-who expected Philadelphia’s hot start-the Hurricanes are performing in every way that was not only expected of them but necessary for them to win a Stanley Cup. They were the odds-on favorite to win the Cup this preseason, and so far, they’re getting contributions from everywhere. There have been shaky spots (a poor start in the Edmonton game doomed them in what was otherwise a winnable game) but the production Carolina is receiving is a positive indicator for what’s to come.

Andrei Svechnikov needs to be a high-octane offensive superstar. What’s he done offensively? Everything. 7 goals, 9 points in 6 games. Fueling a power play with 3 PPGS. His first career (regular-season) hat trick in Edmonton. Martin Necas has to take the next step? 8 points, 6 games. Is Brent Burns too old to have an impact? His four assists say otherwise.

This is far from the time when it all matters most. Sometime in July we’ll reflect on the promise these Hurricanes had at the start of the season. Whether or not that promise will go fulfilled remains to be seen, but a start like this seems indicative of the former. A team that was left with the taste of defeat in their mouths all offseason should be hungry right out of the gate. So buckle up, Canes fans, for what’s going to be a fun ride.

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