DETROIT - A popular refrain for the Carolina Hurricanes this season is that "good teams find a way to win."
Whether it's a night where the team doesn't have its best or there's a tough bounce here or there, good teams still find a way to overcome and prevail. But why?
Skill plays a key role. The more skill and talent a team has, the more likely those skilled and talented players will be able to make a difference and take control of a game that otherwise seems to be heading in the opposite direction.
A steadfast work ethic can cover where skill might be lacking, but when you meld the two? It's a dangerous combination.
"Character and consistent work ethic has been there every game," Jesper Fast said after practice on Monday. "We're such a hard team to beat when everyone is playing this way."
And then there's confidence, which might be a bit more ethereal to define. It's a certain swagger, an internal belief that the team can and will win each and every game.
The Canes are a good team and a legitimate Stanley Cup contender, in case anyone was wondering. They possess that game-breaking skill up and down the lineup, their dogged work ethic is that of their head coach personified, and now riding an eight-game winning streak, they're clearly a confident bunch.
"We expect to win every night. I don't think any one of us in the locker room is surprised that we're on a little hot streak here," Brett Pesce said. "We're not going to stop."
Video: "Everyone's kinda buying in to how we want to play."
"We've always been pretty confident in our abilities because we trust what we're doing," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I think the guys get that when we play the way we're trying to, we can be successful against anybody."
In the last week of February, the Canes dropped three games in a row to the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, the first and only time so far this season that the Canes have lost consecutive games in regulation.
They haven't lost a game since, rattling off eight straight victories against Florida (twice), Nashville, Detroit, Florida again, Nashville again (twice more) and Detroit again. In that stretch, the Canes have scored an average of 3.63 goals per game and allowed just 1.88. Since Feb. 27, their power play, which remains the overall top-ranked man advantage in the league, has clicked at a remarkable 46.2 percent rate, and their penalty kill has converted at a stifling 88.9 percent rate.
"Special teams is just such an important part of the game," Pesce said. "On most nights, it's the difference."
When the Canes cap their two-game set in Motown on Tuesday, they can equal the franchise record for longest winning streak, accomplished twice in the fabled 2005-06 season and once in 2008-09.
But even with the confidence that's bubbling in the room right now, the Canes aren't zooming out to analyze the larger picture. They haven't. They can't.
"I know it's eight in a row, but that's not how we look at it, to be honest with you," Brind'Amour said. "Whether we're losing eight in a row or winning eight in a row, it's irrelevant. It's what have you done for me lately, and what do we have in front of us? That's just how we look at it."
However the Canes look at it, they're finding a growing confidence and success in the process.
"The way we've been playing, it just brings more confidence every game we play," Fast said. "I feel like we know how to play and what makes us a good team. We just have to keep playing this way."
Reimer Celebrates 33rd Birthday
James Reimer is the elder statesman of the Canes, one of only two roster players born in the 1980s, and he celebrated his 33rd birthday today with a good sweat at practice, followed by what should be a "business as usual" evening at the team's hotel. In a normal season, maybe he'd go out for dinner at a local restaurant, but a delivery service meal - compliments of Jaccob Slavin - will have to make do for today.
"He's a real gentleman and a scholar," Reimer said.
Going for a Walkski
Little Caesars Arena is a beautiful new barn, and the practice rink is a part of the same building. It's just a short walk - or ski, as seen from Brock McGinn and Sebastian Aho here - from the visiting dressing room.
High Five for Trocheck
Vincent Trocheck is typically opposite Jaccob Slavin high-fiving and hugging players as they exit the ice after victories. Trocheck, who is sidelined with an upper-body injury, isn't with the Canes in Detroit, but Morgan Geekie made sure not to leave him hanging after the win on Sunday night.
Amplifying Black Voices
And, finally, a shameless plug for the latest episode in our special podcast series "Amplifying Black Voices," which features Mike Whiting. You probably know him as "Big Mike." If you've been to a Canes game in the last 15 years or so, you've probably seen him starting a "Let's go Canes!" chant or blowing his vuvuzela horn. His positivity and outgoing personality are infectious, and I found this conversation to be rather insightful. Please enjoy.