It’s easy to write-off the Carolina Hurricanes already this season. Winless thus far, the Hurricanes head west for a critical western swing. Just what they need to put the final nail in the coffin, right? It has been a tough start to the season for the Canes, battling a raft of injuries to top players, decimating an already talent-light roster. And, trade rumors have been rampant, with both Staals, Skinner, Sekera, Ward, et al, all being mentioned.
But, perhaps we are jumping the gun. Surprisingly, the Canes are proving to be a tough out. Ask the Rangers and the Sabres. Rookie coach, Bill Peters, has instilled a work ethic Canes fans have not seen in a long time. His no-nonsense coaching style is fast gaining the respect of players and fans, alike. He has already benched veterans, Ron Hainsey and Alexander Semin, for lackluster play and has rewarded players who have been putting forth extra effort with increased playing time.
The opportunity created for the young studs in the Canes system has resulted in a number of surprises. In particular, Riley Nash, Victor Rask, Chris Terry, and Zach Boychuk have impressed. Nash showed he was coming last year, when teamed with Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner late in the season. They formed a solid two-way line and became the most consistent line for the Canes at season’s end. Rask displayed a strong skill level at Traverse City and has carried over to the start of this season. Both Nash and Rask have excelled in the face-off circle, often against tough competition. Boychuk has seized the moment and is showing a strong work ethic on every shift. And, all Terry has done is score 3 goals in his first 4 games.
Add to that, the resurgence of a nasty Tim Gleason on the blue line, Jiri Tlusty’s strong start, and Anton Khudobin rounding into shape and the picture doesn’t look so bleak.
It begs the question. How far might the Hurricanes team go, if the youngsters continue to develop and key veterans, such as Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Alexander Semin, and Andrej Sekera find their game?
This Canes’ team just might surprise a lot of folks.