Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on CarolinaHurricanes.com in which I take your Twitter questions about the Carolina Hurricanes or other assorted topics and answer them in mailbag form. Hopefully, the final product is insightful to some degree, and maybe we have some fun along the way.
Let’s get to it.
What do you think was the biggest positive for the Canes playing under the realignment this year? – Andrew S. (@aschnitt53)
The chief positive I gleaned from realignment this season was seeing every team come to Raleigh, and consequently, having the Canes visit every other building. There’s no reason that shouldn’t have always been the case; it’s great for fans, and I know the players enjoy the variety in opponents as well.
It also gave the Canes a chance to see how they stacked up against some of the league’s top teams in what was expected to be the tougher of the two divisions in the East; as it turned out, the Atlantic proved to be the more top-heavy. The Canes posted a 26-22-6 record against the East, including an 11-9-4 record against the Atlantic and a 15-13-2 record within the Metropolitan.
From a league-wide standpoint, realignment didn’t appear to have any detrimental effects on playoff races, as spots were finalized in the last week of play. And, having no re-seeding in the playoffs lends itself quite naturally to a bracket challenge.
The only negative that remains is the conference imbalance, a concern that was raised from the outset; as it stands, 57.1 percent of teams in the West qualify for the postseason, while 50 percent of teams in the East do.
In all, however, I was very pleased with how realignment played out on the ice and in the standings this season.
How about Zach Boychuk winning the AHL goal scoring title? And who will win the Stanley Cup? – Doug A. (@dabrams2021)
How about it, indeed.
Boychuk, who posted a club-record 36 goals in 69 games, won the Willie Marshall Award as the top goal scorer in the AHL. He outpaced his competition by four goals and topped his career-high of 23 goals in 49 AHL games set just a year ago.
En route to finding the back of the net 36 times, Boychuk posted three hat tricks, all since Jan. 24, and led the league with 18 power-play tallies, surpassing Jacob Mikflikier’s 2010-11 previous team record of 12.
Paul Branecky, who once provided stellar coverage on this website and now does the same for the Checkers, has more on Boychuk’s title here.
Boychuk took to Twitter to celebrate.
As for who will win the Stanley Cup, in my last few years of doing this, I haven’t had much success for whatever reason (#BecauseItsTheCup). Anyhow, let’s go through my bracket. I have Boston, Montreal (one for one!), Pittsburgh and New York advancing in the East and Anaheim, San Jose, Colorado and Chicago advancing in the West. In the second round, I’ve picked Boston over Montreal and New York over Pittsburgh in the East and San Jose over Anaheim and Colorado over Chicago in the West. Then, I’ve got Boston and Colorado meeting in the Stanley Cup Final with Boston emerging victorious.
East coast, bias, I guess.
What do you and the Canes staff do during the offseason? – Kim (@CarolinaKaniac)
This is a good question. I’m going to use Spongebob GIFs to help illustrate.
Some people may think the offseason is like this. That’s an understandable assumption when the grind of the 82-game regular season can make you look like this.
In reality, though, the offseason is much more like this. It’s a different kind of work than in-season duties, though, which are much more execution-oriented, like this. While there are items to report during the offseason – the draft, free agency, summer development camp, etc. – the workload is more planning-oriented as the staff and I prepare for the season ahead, and the pace is certainly slower.
Last summer was a bit different and ultimately a lot of fun. Following the conclusion of the regular season, which was late April due to the work stoppage, we shifted our focus to the new uniform unveil. After the uniforms were released in early June, my focus shifted to the Draft, which would take place later that month in New Jersey. That was quickly followed up by the beginning of free agency, and just a couple weeks later came Summerfest, an inaugural, week-long event that was highlighted by the Canes’ development camp. The remainder of the summer featured plenty of more preparation behind the scenes, including the annual re-skinning of CarolinaHurricanes.com, but the pace did indeed slow quite a bit, the calm before the storm if you will.
By September, it has been months without hockey.
So by opening night in October, we’re all like this.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers! (And maybe more GIFs?)
If you have a question you’d like answered, you can reach out to me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.