warning signs canes weekly

Warning signs: Canes Weekly [02/17/2018]

A response to Peters was what the Hurricanes needed and it certainly looked as if though they did. However two tough losses to the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders have landed the team one point out of a playoff position. [Both the Devils and the Islanders now hold the Wild Card spots in the East.]  

Good wins and tough losses

The Carolina Hurricanes finished their fifth game in eight days Friday night with a 3-0 loss. Although an expectable outcome for a team playing two back-to-backs in a week, the Canes deserved more. Down 1-0 in the third, Jeff Skinner produced a much-needed goal. Under further review the play was ruled offside and the goal was discredited.

Throughout the game the Canes maintained high energy. Brock McGinn laid a big hit on Matthew Barzal in the first period to get the crowd into it. The Hurricanes held the shot advantage at 45-23. And best of all, Cam Ward once again showed that he wants to be the number one in Carolina.

Thursday night, Carolina took on New Jersey in a critical matchup, one that they wish they could have back. Suffering a 5-2 loss wasn’t what they were looking for. The most disappointing part unfortunately being that of Scott Darling.

In the three other games, the Canes delivered a response that both Peters and all Caniacs were looking for. Producing three or more goals in three straight games alongside very good goaltending play. The Canes even flexed their muscles against one of the best defensive teams in the league as they put up seven goals against the Los Angeles Kings.

Cam delivers and Darling quivers

Canes

(Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHL via Getty Images)

A few short weeks ago the goaltending situation in Carolina was still up for grabs. That is no longer the case as Cam Ward has proven to

be the starter. Since the All-Star break Cam has allowed three or fewer goals in every game he has started. He recorded his second shutout of the season on February 1. Ward also posts a .938 save percentage and a 4-2-1 record since.

Meanwhile Darling has once again continued his streak of inconsistent play. Having played three games since the break Darling has allowed four or more goals twice. He posts a .878 save percentage and a 1-2-0 record. However, don’t write him off. Darling has the ability to play, but his confidence is at an all-time low. Given that Ward has earned the starting role, Darling may thrive as he once did with the Chicago Blackhawks.

McGinn for the win

Brock McGinn has been the fire and passion the Hurricanes have needed. He has truly stepped into a role that the Canes have longed for. He brings a physical presence that can rile up any crowd. Not to mention he has been producing points more often this season (10-11-21). McGinn has become a crowd favorite and rightfully so.

The most interesting man in the league

Jeff Skinner has continued to impress. Though he has not stayed with the same line at all this season (due to Bill Peters shake-up style), Skinner continues to make plays out of nothing. Skinner’s somewhat miraculous plays often carry this offense. When he is at his best (being creative) the Canes are usually right there as well. With one of the most interesting styles of hockey, Skinner possesses the ability to score at any moment.Just watch this… [CLICK HERE] 

 

Featured image from NHL.com/hurricanes.

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Central Divison Race

Friday picks: Central Division race heats up with Stars versus Blues

Friday Picks: Central Division Race Heats Up With Stars versus Blues

It is Friday night and for the NHL that means big games! The Central Division race heats up as the Blues head to Dallas to take on the Stars. Just two points separate the two division rivals, so this should be a very physical hockey game.

The Atlantic Division will be in full effect as well with the Hurricanes taking on the Islanders and the Flyers taking on the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Central Division rivals Colorado and Winnipeg are also in action.

Stars vs. Blues

Pick: Stars

What A Difference A Year Makes

Last season the Stars finished with just 79 points. Fast forward 57 games into this season and Dallas already has 70 points. The Stars had an outstanding offseason and have put together a team that should put up a fight in the postseason.

One of the significant differences between this season is the reliable goaltending that Ben Bishop brings. In 43 appearances this season Bishop is 23-15-3 with a 2.5 goals against average, and .918 save percentage.

This is a huge leap forward from Kari Lehtonen’s numbers last season where he went 22-25-7 with a 2.85 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

The addition of Ben Bishop has vaulted this team into one of the best defensive teams in the league. General manager Jim Nill deserves a lot of credit for what he has done in Dallas. Last season was a disappointment, but Nill made sure that it didn’t happen again.

Radulov’s Career Year

Radulov’s highest point total in a season was 58 back in the 2007-08 season. So far in the 2017-18 season, he has 53 points in 57 games and is the point leader for the Stars. Radulov was out of the league for four years between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 seasons so his rise to dominance this season is quite remarkable.

In his three games versus the Blues this season he has three points; including a two-goal performance on December 29th. Coming into this season, Radulov had five games in his entire career where two goals or more. This season he already has two, and there are probably more still to come.

The play of Radulov this season has elevated the Stars play to new level. He has earned every penny of his eight million dollar salary this season, and everything from this point on is just icing on the cake.

Brayden Schenn Leads The Charge

Brayden Schenn has played well above expectations for the Blues this season. The 26-year old forward leads St. Louis in points as well as takeaways defensively. Schenn is a phenomenal two-way player that has definitely helped boost the Blues into the position they are in today.

Schenn is a fast and physical player that knows when to finesse and also when to lay the hammer. His plus-minus rating of +16 is a career-best for Schenn, and it is a testament to how well he has played on both sides of the ice for St. Louis.

Result

I think the Stars will take this one. The Stars play very well at the American Airlines Center, and it shows in their record. At home the Stars are 20-9-1; including their lone win against the Blues this season. Both teams are very defensively sound and play a physical brand of old-time hockey. This game should be incredibly fun to watch, but I expect the Stars to squeak it out and overtake the Blues in the Central Division.

Lock Pick: Hurricanes vs. Islanders

Pick: Hurricanes

central division race

(Photo By: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

It is no secret that the Islanders lack defense. In their loss to Columbus a few days ago they allowed a remarkable 51 shots on goal, but the issues don’t stop there. The Islanders are the only team in the NHL that is averaging more than three goals per game while at the same time allowing more than three goals per game. Their 3.63 goals allowed per game is dead last in the NHL, and that number continues to trend in the wrong direction. In their previous ten games New York is an abysmal 3-5-2.

While New York continues to trend in the wrong direction, the Hurricanes look like a team that is making strides towards playoff contention. The Hurricanes have won three of their last four games and are 6-3-1 in their previous ten games. The only issue in Carolina is that they never know what kind of goaltending they are going to get, but even that has gotten steadier as the season rolls on.

Goaltender Scott Darling was brought in after Cam Ward had struggled for a few seasons, but now as we go past the midpoint of the season Ward has seemed to take back his starter spot. In 28 starts this season Ward is 17-7-3 with a .912 save percentage and is allowing 2.6 goals per game.

I like the Hurricanes to win this one against an Islanders team that seems to be caught in no man’s land. The Hurricanes are starting to put it all together, and they just might actually become a legit threat in the Eastern Conference.

Upset Pick: Blue Jackets vs. Flyers

Pick: Blue Jackets

It is not really an upset if the Blue Jackets win, but they are lower than the Flyers in the standings so by definition it counts; especially with the way, the Jackets’ offense has been. In Columbus’ last three games they have put 50-plus shots on goal in all three of them. They are the first team in NHL history to do this. They have brought an onslaught of shots on opposing goaltenders, and it has been fun to watch.

With the way hockey is played in the Metropolitan Division, I expect those same looks to be there for the Jackets. Their newfound philosophy of throw the puck on net and pray for a bounce has been working and although the Flyers defense is good, I could see the Jackets pouring it on. I think Columbus will take this one at home against Philly.

 

Featured image by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Super 8

Not so Super 8-February 9

And we are back with this week’s “Not so Super 8”.

There was quite a bit of shifting this week in the Super 16, some of which I am not totally in agreement with. I mean sure the Golden Knights lost a couple games in regulation. That doesn’t mean they deserve to be dropped to the third spot.

This week also had a lot fewer teams that even deserved to be in consideration. Most of the teams that missed the Super 16 are on huge slides right now.

Let’s get right to it.

Super 8LA Kings

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This one is tough. They are on a two game win streak, their record the past 10 is 5-5-0 and they are in the top 16 in the NHL. It really just game down to choosing between them, San Jose and Anaheim.

Super 8

Offensive statistics for the LA Kings (Screenshot from NHL.com)choosing between them, San Jose and Anaheim.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

We need to start seeing more production offensively from players other than Anze Kopitar. Just take a look at their offensive stat breakdown. Kopitar leads the team in points by almost 20 above Drew Doughty. And while there is nothing wrong with defensemen who are offensively minded, why the hell is Doughty above any other forward in point production?

In addition to this, Jonathan Quick is not playing his best for the Kings. With only a 2.51 GAA and a .919 S% he really needs to cement his place as the Kings’ number one guy in the crease.

Philadelphia FlyersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flyers did pretty well this week, so much like the Kings, I am not super sure. Also on a two game win streak and sporting an even better record the past 10 games of 6-3-1, I think they also could’ve had a spot in the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

It is too bad the Flyers don’t have better goalies because they have three players with plus 50 point production. The struggles in the crease are killing the team. With Brian Elliot and Michal Neuvirth combing for a dismal 2.67 GAA and a .910 S%. They need a pick me up or their woes will continue.

Super 8Carolina Hurricanes

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This is where the play quality takes a steep drop in the list. The Hurricanes are at an okay 4-5-1 the past 10 games. They have been 9-10-1 their past 20 so they are really playing pretty averagely right now.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are only pulling out close wins against average or less than average teams and they are getting smoked by good teams. The Hurricanes really need to find a way to pull out wins against the better teams if they want to move up in the league at all. They need more offensive production but they really won’t ever win games if their goaltending continues to be awful. Cam Ward and Scott Darling combine for even worse numbers that Elliot and Neuvirth, with a 2.85 GAA and a .901 S%. I mean those numbers are just awful and potentially the worst in the league with the exception of the Coyotes.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Panthers missed purely because of actual ranking in the NHL. Other than that they are on fire, they have won four straight games and are 6-4-0 in their last 10.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

In their six games before the win streak they had 27 goals against. That is 4.5 goals per game, and it is completely unacceptable. Roberto Luongo needs to step up in a big way to keep their goal differential lower. This team could easily be in the top 16 in the league, they have the pieces to the puzzle. They just need to execute.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have lost one and are 3-5-2 their last 10. They are gathering points but just not quite enough to keep them on par with the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Win. In. Regulation. A couple of their regulation losses have been by a one goal margin. In addition to that they lost twice in overtime. They need to start pulling that second point instead of settling for one. Also they lost to the Coyotes and the Sabres in that time frame. Those are the worst two teams in the league a win in both of those games flips their past 10 record to a better than average 5-3-2.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blue Jackets are closer to being in the league’s top 16 than a lot of the teams above them. They missed because of the three game slide they are on right now with a past 10 game record of 3-6-1.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start getting contributions from their key players. Josh Anderson is leading in goals with 16 and Artemi Panarin leads in points with 42. That’s fine and all, bit where are Zach Werenski, Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg? I found them. Way down the stat sheet not really contributing to their team.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

I was really starting to grasp at straws here. The Blackhawks record the past 10 is 2-6-2. That pretty much speaks for itself.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

With the amount of star power this team has, it never ceases to baffle me how badly they are doing this year. They are just waiting for something to click, and when it does I am sure they’ll be back to their winning ways.

Edmonton OilersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Oilers are just finally starting to figure things out this season. It is too late at this point. Their 5-4-0 record the past 10 is okay and it’s far better than most of the bottom dwellers they share real estate with.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

It can’t be just “The Connor McDavid Show” anymore. The kid is LITERALLY carrying the team to victory. He scores the majority of the goals whether they win or lose, and there isn’t much other offensive production.

I have no bonus team this week because every team that did not make the Super 16 cut was relatively average. Whereas in the past teams have been snubbed.

Team logos and featured image courtesy of NHL.com

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Metropolitan Division

Things are very much congested in the Metropolitan Division

I have been slightly incorrect in the past. The central does have have the better collection of teams overall. However, the Metropolitan Division currently has the most traffic…

Prior to games on February 8th:

  1. Washington Capitals – 67 points – 29 games remaining
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins – 63 points – 27 games remaining
  3. New Jersey Devils – 62 points – 30 games remaining
  4. Philadelphia Flyers – 59 points – 29 games remaining
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets – 58 points – 29 games remaining
  6. New York Islanders – 58 points – 28 games remaining
  7. Carolina Hurricanes – 57 points – 28 games remaining
  8. New York Rangers – 55 points – 28 games remaining

This is not the most talented division, nor does it possess a top three team, but each club is in play for the postseason. Both wild card spots in the East are held by a member of the Metro. It is one hundred percent a three-man race in the Atlantic. This makes for just a 4-point separation between the number one wild card spot (held by the Flyers) and the last place Rangers. The margin for error gets smaller and smaller as every single game now has playoff implications.

So, we meet again…probably

The matchup everyone now looks forward to every season is most likely forthcoming again. It is always known that Sidney Crosby is a three-time Stanley Cup Champ while Alex Ovechkin has yet to reach a conference final…in fact, Crosby has served as Ovi’s kryptonite having never beaten him in the playoffs. The past two years each of their teams have met in the second round with the Penguins winning in six in 2016, then in seven in 2017. There is a very good chance we see this movie yet again this Spring…

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NHL.com

Washington Capitals: Why they will finish in the top three of the Metro

Alexander Ovechkin – 32 goals (leads league)/26 assists/58 points (11th in league)/+12

Depth – Four Players (Ovechkin/Kuznetsov/Backstrom/Carlson) with at least 40 points

Braden Holtby – 27 wins (tied for 3rd in league)

Pittsburgh Penguins: Why they will finish in the top three in the Metro

Trending upwards – 7-3-0 in their last 10 – 20-7-1 on home ice

Special Teams – Power play is 26.8% (leads league) – Penalty Kill is 82.5% (7th in league)

Experience – 15 of their 20 current players on roster have won a Stanley Cup together

We have the cast and crew ready to go. The two teams battled it out on the Friday before the Super Bowl in D.C. with Pittsburgh prevailing 7-4. Will we see the same ending to this trilogy as we have seen in the previous two??…or will the Washington Capitals finally breakthrough and compete for a Stanley Cup??

You gonna make a move or stand pat??

Philadelphia Flyers: Sell it seems like

The Flyers are too inconsistent to be true contenders in the East (5-4-1 in their last 10). Therefore, selling would be smart to keep adding prospects and draft picks to keep building for the future. Ron Hextall added a first rounder in the offseason for Brayden Schenn. Seeing what the market would bring for someone like Wayne Simmonds (which would be a bundle) would be smart. “It all depends on what’s coming back” Hextall says (The Inquirer).

Columbus Blue Jackets: Buy more than likely

The Jackets have scored the least amount of goals (139) of any team in the Metropolitan Division. They are -11 on the year and will look to bolster their roster offensively. Columbus is a league-worst 14.1% on the power play as well. Looking around the league, a reunion with Rick Nash may be the best option.

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NY Daily News

New York Islanders: Toss up

Star Center for the Isles John Tavares is on pace for a 40-goal/90-point season. He is in his prime at 27 and has an expiring contract and will become a free agent on July 1st. Islanders’ GM does not expect to move him before the deadline, but seeing what the market will offer may be in his best interest. The team also knows how to put the puck in the net better than any team in the Metro with 181 goals on the year, but gives up more than anyone in the division (197 goals against). Bolstering their defensive core will be on their minds one way or the other.

One point separates these three teams. All are in play for the postseason. If you have a shot to make the playoffs, the advice should always be to go for it. The parity is real…ask Nashville.

Close, but no cigar

The Hurricanes and Rangers round out the bottom two in this jam packed division. The Rangers have asked Rick Nash for his no-trade list, but GM Ron Francis has not ruled out buying before the deadline. Two different approaches, but similar team finishes if changes don’t soon occur…

Metropolitan Division

Photo from NHL.com

New York Rangers: Selling most likely

Trending downwards – 3-7-0 in their last 10 – 8-14-2 on the road (16 road games left)

No elite scoring – 0 players with 40+ points

Carolina Hurricanes: Buying??

Trending downwards – 4-5-1 in their last 10 – -20 goal differential (worst in division)

Elite scoring and depth – two players (Teravainen/Aho) with 40+ points – five players with 30+ points

As constructed, neither of these teams are dangerous come mid-April. However, if either GM decides that this year is worth giving up significant pieces for their future with how tight the standings are, this could be extremely interesting down the stretch.

Do it

Whether you’re buying, selling or standing pat on February 26th, do it. Very rarely do all seven-eight teams in a division have a clear shot at ending up in the playoffs. All you have to do is get to the dance and right now, the last place Rangers are just three points out of that last wild card spot…

The Hurricanes have a Stanley Cup-winning net minder in Cam Ward and the Rangers obviously have a hall of fame goalkeeper in King Henrik. You can win any playoff series with hot goaltending. Anything can happen. Whatever these teams are thinking, each have a shot…so do it.

 

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Super 8

The not so Super 8 February 2

The NHL puts out their picks for the “Super 16” power rankings each week. They consider these teams the hottest in the NHL.

Every week I will take the eight teams closest to making the Super 16 cut, plus one bonus team (a team that made the Super 16 that should not have) and tell you what I think they are doing wrong and what they need to do to break into the Super 16.

Here are the team in the order that they missed the Super 16 by:

New Jersey Devils Super 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

Honestly, this one has me a little unsure. The Devils sit at 12th overall in the NHL and their record the last 10 games is 4-5-1. It isn’t stellar, but they are sitting better than a few of their counterparts that made the cut. Three of those losses came to the Predators, Bruins and Flyers, all very good teams. The only reason they missed is likely due to the fact that they were on a bit of a downward slide when the Super 16 was released.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE? 

They really need to have Keith Kinkaid step up his game as backup net minder. He has a less than stellar 3.10 GAA and a .896 S%. In addition to that Taylor Hall is leading the team offensively by a great amount. If some of their secondary contributors would step up the team would benefit greatly.

Calgary FlamesSuper 8

 WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flames were the hottest team in the league to start the year off. They had a seven game win streak and an 11 game point streak. Even though they extended their point streak for 11 games they have lost six straight games.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Flames need to learn how to hold a lead. In their last two losses (to the Golden Knights and Lightning) they held a two goal lead at some point in the game. Unforced errors lead to break downs in their defense and ultimately a couple of rough losses. They also need to start winning at home.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

  WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blues Jackets’ record the last ten games was 5-4-1, not great, but not too bad. They mostly missed out here due to the fact that a few of their losses the ten games have been to pretty subpar teams (i.e. the Sabres and the Canucks).

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start beating the easy teams. In addition to that, they need to start beating some of the league leaders as well. They aren’t competing when it counts and it is costing them. Sergei Bobrovsky is playing incredibly well so they need to capitalize on that.

Carolina HurricanesSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

While the Hurricanes are on a three game win streak, they have a deep hole to dig themselves out of. Their record the last ten games is 5-5-0.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Their net minders need to both step up. Both Cam Ward and Scott Darling are playing at very average levels. In addition to this they aren’t able to keep up with any of the better teams in the league, and they are losing by too big of margins.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They are sitting at 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They have put the beat down on lesser teams but aren’t able to compete with the top teams in the league.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Blackhawks are surprisingly bad. They have all of the pieces. They are a team of all-stars, but nothing is clicking for them. Once they are able to click at the right time and actually start competing with the better teams in the league maybe they will climb out of this hole. They also need to improve their power play.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have won two straight but are still just 4-5-1 in the last ten games. Much like the Hurricanes, they are often getting blown out by average teams.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The fact that they have both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo and they still aren’t able to have solid goaltending is shocking. Both net minders need to step up.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have two straight losses and a 5-4-1 record their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are getting pretty solid numbers offensively but they are backstopped by one of the worst goalie combos in the league. Not much more to say there.

Vancouver CanucksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have been consistently struggling not only this year but for the past four or five years. They are sitting at 5-5-0 in their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The player with the highest contribution is their rookie, Brock Boeser. The veterans need to step up and start contributing more and leading the team.

BONUSSuper 8

I don’t think it’s super surprising that the Philadelphia Flyers are the team I think shouldn’t have made the Super 16. They sit below three teams that didn’t make the Super 16 (Devils, Flames and Blue Jackets) and they aren’t even on a hot streak. They have lost three straight and their record the last ten games is 6-4-0, which is fine but still not impressive.

All team logo images courtesy of NHL.com

Featured image courtesy NHL.com

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warning signs canes weekly

Warning signs: Canes Weekly [02/03/2018]

The Carolina Hurricanes are in quite the usual position at this point in the season. Coming in a few points short of a playoff position, it will be another nail-biter for the “Caniacs.” Year after year since 2009, the Canes have struggled to contend.

Playoff Hopes

It has been nine seasons since the Hurricanes last made it into the playoffs, doing so in the 2008-09 season led by Eric Staal and Cam Ward. With Staal now leading the Minnesota Wild, the Canes look to a familiar face in Ward.

Goaltending Struggles

With general manager Ron Francis signing Scott Darling to a four-year, $16.6 million contract, it looked like the Canes had found their No. 1 goaltender.

However, Darling got off to a rocky start with some weak goals and inconsistent play. This opened the door for Ward, who has performed well enough to take over the starting role.

Still, neither seems to be the kind of No. 1 goaltender a playoff team needs to this point. Darling has a save percentage of .892 and a goals-against average of 3.06. Ward boasts better numbers at .910 and 2.67 respectively. They have two combined shutouts the whole season (both by Ward).

On Thursday night, Ward played well and earned his second shutout of the year. One of these two will need to step up to the challenge in order for the Canes to reach the playoffs.

Don’t hate the TSA

Carolina Hurricanes Canes weekly

(Photo from FoxSports)

If Carolina is going to make their way into the playoffs, TSA will have to lead the offense. Carolina’s top line consists of Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho.

In the month of January, TSA has been involved in 19 of the 33 goals scored. 14 of those 19 goals were scored by Staal, Teravainen or Aho. When one of these three players records a point, the Hurricanes are 5-3-1 to start 2018. Two of those three losses were given by the top teams in the East, the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The other was a heartbreaker to the respectable Washington Capitals with two seconds left in the third.

In seven of these nine games, the Canes have scored three or more goals. These two FINs and a CAN have to put up points for Carolina to succeed. TSA put up 29 points through 12 games in January.

Peters’ opportunity to establish himself

Bill Peters’ fourth year as head coach of the Hurricanes presents an opportunity he needs to take advantage of. The Canes don’t have the roster of a serious contender, but they have stuck around.

Peters’ puck-possession system is a great match for the Hurricanes because of their defensive core. However, his often-questionable lineup changes from period to period sometimes make things worse. The players thrive off chemistry, playing together night after night.

Peters has been trying to find the first line, but all the changes might be hurting the team more than helping. Peters committed to his lines for the first two games since the break and the team has won both.

If Peters can coach his team into the playoffs, it will have a lasting impact on his Hurricane legacy. First, he must find a way to deal without a the first line center this team so desperately needs.

Tom Dundon

Carolina Hurricanes Canes weekly

(Photo from NHL.com/hurricanes)

The new owner of the Hurricanes has stepped in and already made some changes. In his short tenure with the Canes, Dundon has made an impression on the fans.

There are many who are excited with what Dundon has already done with fan experience. He has allowed fans to move down to the lower bowl, incorporated the Whalers and improved in-game audio and video.

There are a few season ticket holders who are upset because they are paying more for lower bowl tickets then those who get to move down. Yet, most fans are happy to have changes in the organization.

Recently Dundon offered fans at the Backyard Brawl lower bowl tickets for five dollars, something unheard of in professional sports these days. Dundon is truly trying to change the fan experience and support for the team. He is a welcome change for most Caniacs.

With Dundon taking over new ownership, the roster being young and filled with talent and fans more excited than ever, the Canes might be on their way to becoming an elite team in the NHL. This is an opportunity that needs to be taken as the market may decline should the Canes continue to lose.

 

 

Featured image from NHL.com/hurricanes.

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Stanley Cup Push

Three teams daring to make a Stanley Cup push

As the season trudges on teams, begin getting ready to make their Stanley Cup push. Every year there is one team that flies in under the radar and makes a run in the playoffs. Here are three teams that have the best chance of doing so as the season gets close to crossing the halfway point.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are currently playing in the toughest NHL division. At 44 points, the Islanders currently hold the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. This makes them the most promising of the three teams on this list to make a deep Stanley Cup push, but there are still many questions by experts surrounding New York.

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo from SB Nation)

Islanders offense

Forwards Josh Bailey and John Tavares lead the way for the Islanders as Bailey is second in the NHL with 50 points and Tavares is third with 49. Bailey and Tavares are very dominant and both find ways to take over games.

The offense is there for the Islanders. New York is third in the NHL in goals per game with 3.44. The Isles are also getting it done on the power play. They rank eighth among the NHL leaders, scoring on 21.2 percent of their chances.

The Islanders are the only team in the NHL with two players that have scored over 20 goals each. The emergence of the young forward Mathew Barzal has also played a significant factor in their success on offense. Barzal currently sits fourth for the Islanders in points with 36. Barzal’s contributions on the offensive side are promising for the Islanders to make a Stanley Cup push.

Islanders defense

For the Islanders to make a push, they are going to have to put more games together on the defensive side. New York currently ranks last in the NHL in goals against at 3.54 goals per game. They are the only team outside of the Colorado Avalanche that are presently scoring three or more goals per game while also giving up more than three goals per game.

The defensive struggles for the Islanders also spread to the penalty kill. The Islanders PK unit is the exact opposite of their power play. The Isles rank 30th in the NHL with a penalty kill success percentage of 73.9 percent. Defensemen Calvin de Haan, Adam Pelech and Thomas Hickey lead a unit that has been struggling the whole season. If these guys can put something together, it could do wonders for the Islanders.

Islanders goalies

A lot of these struggles can be linked to the play of the goalies as well. New York goalies currently have a .896 save percentage as a unit. This ranks them second to last in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak is currently starting at goalie for the Islanders, and he has been average at best. Halak is giving up a career-worst 3.15 goals per games. His backup, Thomas Greiss, has been a major disappointment, giving up a miserable 3.82 goals per game. His .884 save percentage is not much to look at either.

How to make it happen

The Islanders may need to think of making a trade at the deadline. Goalie play is what wins in the playoffs. New York should take a chance on finding one before it is too late. Whether it be a young, unproven hopeful, or a veteran desperate for a team, the Islanders should pull the trigger. The Isles offense has been great all year. They are one goaltender away from being an elite team.

Carolina Hurricanes

If the Hurricanes can get into the playoffs, they have an excellent chance at making a serious Stanley Cup push and possibly could win it. The Hurricanes are nothing special, but they are a team not to take lightly. Everyone on the team is starting to realize their role, and not one player is bigger than the team.

Carolina pushed this mantra so much that they even have two captains that alternate. If the Canes can put it together, they are a dangerous team going forward.

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo by Jamie Kellner)

Hurricanes offense

On offense, the Hurricanes are led by Jeff Skinner, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, but they also get some contributions on the defensive side of the ice. Defensemen Noah Hanifin is currently eighth on the team in points with 20. Justin Faulk’s point totals are down this season, but his presence is felt on the ice.

The offensive attack is very balanced for the Hurricanes. They have seven players with eight goals or more. They share the puck well and have eight players in double-digits for assists.

The Hurricanes offense does not wow anybody on paper, but clearly, they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Canes show up at the rink every night and play very well together. If needed, players like Skinner and Jordan Staal can take over, but so far they have not required that to happen. This balance on offense makes them very difficult to defend and can frustrate opponents at times.

Hurricanes defense

Carolina’s defense is very young, deep and talented. Players like Hanifin, Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin headline a defense that takes pride in playing sound fundamental defense. The Hurricanes D-men are allowing a league low 29.26 shots per game. This makes it easier on the team as a whole when opponents are not able to get the looks they want.

The signing of Trevor van Riemsdyk will go down as one of the most underrated signings in the offseason. Van Riemsdyk has a team-leading +11 in plus-minus and has eight points to go along with it. He is legging roughly 16 minutes of ice-time per game and he is making sure that it is productive. He will play a role in the Stanley Cup push for the Canes.

As stated earlier, Noah Hanifin is having a fantastic year on offense. 20 points from defensemen at 20 years old is very promising for the Hurricanes franchise. However, for the Canes to make a push, him and Faulk will have to find a way to get their plus-minus up. Goals against are not always their fault, but as defensemen, this is something they pride themselves on. Hanifin is currently -3 and Faulk is -7. For a Stanley Cup push, they will most likely have to get that trending in the positives.

Hurricanes goalies

The goalie play for the Hurricanes this season has been off and on. Scott Darling was acquired in the offseason to replace Cam Ward as the starter this season, but so far Ward has done everything he can to win his job back. Obviously, this is not a severe problem to have.

In 14 games, Ward is giving up 2.53 goals per game and has a save percentage of .917 percent. Darling is allowing 2.88 goals per game with a .896 save percentage in 25 games. It is worth noting that Ward is currently 10-2-1 as the starter.

Bringing in Darling has not gone as planned for the Hurricanes, but clearly, no one is complaining. Ward is reverting to his old ways and playing very well. As he starts to start more in the second half of the season, this team could become dangerous. A Stanley Cup push is not out of sight for the Hurricanes.

How to make it happen

The Hurricanes don’t necessarily have to break the bank in order to make their Stanley Cup push. All the tools are their for this team. They just have to put them together. Over the last month, they have begun doing just that. At most, the Hurricanes should try and trade for a low-budget scorer. But for the most part, the Canes’ best chance is to just ride their current roster out.

Anaheim Ducks

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks currently sit fourth in the Pacific Division. hold the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Ducks just have to find a way to get it all together.

Ducks offense

The Ducks are a lot like the Hurricanes in that they have a very balanced style of play. Anaheim currently has 14 players with 10 or more points and are led by young star Rickard Rakell.

Rakell has 14 goals and 15 assists on the season, giving him a team-leading 29 points. The Ducks have not been able to score at a consistent rate yet this season and currently are rank 25th in goals per game with 2.67.

Although the Ducks have a very balanced scoring attack, they need to get more pucks in the back of the net. This starts with players like Rakell, Corey Perry and Adam Henrique. All three of them have the highest point totals on the Anaheim roster. If they can play well, they can potentially open up more ice for other goal scorers.

Ducks defense

The Ducks defense has been average so far this season, allowing 2.77 goals per game. The defense all around plays sound and does their job. If they can get it together on offense, the defense could potentially turn around and be one of the better units in the NHL.

Josh Manson has had a terrific season so far for Anaheim. Manson has 17 points, but most importantly has a plus-minus of +12. His 17 points ties his total from all of last season, and his plus-minus is the same as last year as well. The play of Manson is helping with the development of Brandon Montour, who is playing his first full NHL season. Montour has 19 points so far and has a plus-minus of +7.

This Ducks defense is on the younger side, but are making giant steps in the right direction. They are majorly helping on the scoring front, and their defense has been pretty good this year. If they can keep this up, they will have a promising chance at a Stanley Cup push.

Ducks goalies

Goalie John Gibson is the primary starter for this Anaheim Ducks team, and he has done a pretty good job. Gibson is allowing 2.70 goals per game with a save percentage of .922 percent. These are promising stats for a young goaltender like Gibson, but unfortunately, he has not gotten help on the offensive side.

Gibson’s record is currently 13-12-4, a record you would not expect to see from a goalie with stats like his. Even when you look at Ryan Miller’s stats, you can see there is an issue. Miller has only played in ten games this season, but he has allowed 2.23 goals per game with a save percentage of .928 percent, but he is currently 4-1-4.

The goalie play from the Ducks is precisely what you need to make a Stanley Cup push. Like I said earlier, teams that have good goaltending in the playoffs tend to make big runs. The Ducks have all the making to be one of those teams.

How to make it happen

The Ducks need to get a scorer or two. Adding a scorer to their struggling offense could be the breath of fresh air that they need. They do not necessarily have to go for broke, because they do have a young team, but they need to add an offensive piece. The Ducks have all the parts defensively to make a playoff run, but they need guys to start putting pucks in the back of the net if they even want the chance at that.

 

Featured image by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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