At this point we are roughly a quarter through the NHL season and sit right on the doorstep of the NHL playoffs. The saying goes in Hockeyville that if a team is in playoff contention around Thanksgiving then its a good sign of things to come. So we’re good right? Caniac fever is about to tip? Not quite. Almost the entire Eastern Conference is in contention for the playoffs so we have a long way to go until we can talk postseason for the first time since 2009.
Good news is the team is trending in the right direction. Just a few weeks ago the fan base/media were scratching their heads and wondering whether a change needed to be made in order to avoid another spring without hockey. The team was 4-5-3 and had been sputtering with head scratching losses to the lowly Arizona Coyotes and a loss where the team posted 60 shots. That’s more shots than some basketball teams put up in games.
Now the team has earned a point in six of their last eight games and are showing life on the offensive end (Thanks Tuevo & Sebastian), we have to ask what else is the difference? There has got to be something more than some Fins crushing Natty Rush‘s and scoring like maniacs.
Looking At Them Analytics
We could just say they’re better but we want to endear ourselves to the analytics community. Lets take a look at the below table . The turnaround occurred after the Arizona Coyotes loss on 11/4/17.
|Record||Avg GF||Avg GA||PP||PK||Avg PIM|
The obvious reason is we’re scoring a half a goal a game more and giving up fewer goals. I think that makes too much sense. Lets dig deeper. The improvement in the penalty kill? Getting closer! Increase in penalty minutes?!? BINGO!!!
Raleigh is a tough city. From the tone set by the boys from North Carolina FC to listening to people say good things about Charlotte…we are damn tough. So the improvement in toughness can be seen in our increased time in the box. One might argue slashing, delay of game, and too many men on ice calls aren’t tough. However, they are tough. It’s a subtle mind game we’re playing with the opponent. “Oh hey opposing team your on the power play? Say hello to our kill unit!” Let the opponent get overly confident and then CRUSH them. Bill Peters and staff are out here playing chess while everybody else is player checkers.
Now that we solved mathematically why the Canes have gotten better lets get to the awards!
FIRST QUARTER AWARDS
Guy We Want Mic’d Up The Whole Game: Justin Williams
I love watching Williams skate around the ice. Especially away from the puck. He seems to be giving the business to the opponents and would provide some good soundbites. Also, we’d probably see he is the true leader on the ice. He don’t need no letter. He should have been given one tho.
Tough Guy Award: Brock McGinn
McGinn provides the physicality the Canes have needed. This is part of the reason why he has been able to hang around the club. When McGinn isn’t on the ice he is probably doing tough guy stuff like chewing on sandpaper or driving trucks into the Peace Street Bridge. Just think, a few years ago this award would have gone to Brad Malone. Things are better.
Guy We Like To Get On The Podcast: Tie Justin Faulk & Justin Williams
We’re big Justin guys. I think we would impress them with our hard hitting journalism. Have we tried to get them? Not yet. We’re playing it cool right now. We’ve already had big hockey guys like Barstool’s Rear Admiral and Chief. We need to keep it rolling.
MVP: Tuevo Teravainen
This really could go to a number of players but I’m giving it to Turbo because we needed one of the fringe guys to step up and get some big points this season. The disappearance of Victor Rask has made Tuevo’s scoring streak even more important to this team. The biggest key for Turbo is to consistently score throughout the season and just not in bunches.