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.
Which rink are you most looking forward to visiting while on the Canes State Fair roadie? Which rink have you enjoyed the most? – Robert (@r_vonjess)
Since this is my first year traveling with the team, I’m honestly looking forward to visiting every road city and arena, a benefit of the current schedule format.
Seeing Madison Square Garden in all of its renovated glory will certainly be a neat experience. I’ll also enjoy taking in the atmosphere of a small, intimate arena in Winnipeg.
But on this trip, I’m most looking forward to Vancouver. For one, we’re there from Friday night through Tuesday night, when the Canes take on the Canucks in the final game of the five-game road swing. I’ve heard great things about the city, and covering a game in the arena that hosted the Winter Olympics just four years ago will put a bow on what should be a fun road trip. (And, we get these Western Canadian cities out of the way before winter – also a plus.)
In my limited travels with the team thus far, I’ve seen five rinks in five cities, having visiting Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New York twice already. My favorite of the five would have to be Columbus’ Nationwide Arena, a building that opened just a year after the then-Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh. The arena is situated in a great part of town, aptly named the “Arena District,” surrounded by many a bar and restaurant. On the inside, it’s aged quite nicely, having recently undergone renovations that included the installation of a new video board which is large and quite nice.
But the cannon? Nope.
With all of the injuries and the team still looking for its first win, what’s the morale like in the locker room? – The Storm Chase (@TheStormChase)
I’m not in the room at every moment the players are, so I can’t speak to that aspect. But from what I’ve seen – and from what head coach Bill Peters and the players have said – it seems to be just fine.
In the end, the reality is that we are three games deep in what is an 82-game marathon. Losses happen, and teams deal with them. Injuries happen, and teams deal with them. The Hurricanes have had to wrestle with both thus far, especially on the injury front.
But morale, from where I see it, is a-OK.
Which of the new kids who are playing due to injuries or otherwise have most impressed you and why? – Doug A. (@dabrams2021)
I’ll caution this answer with the disclaimer that three games, and in some cases even less, is a small sample size.
That being said, I think Victor Rask has been remarkably impressive, especially considering the body of work he’s been tasked with in his first three games in the NHL. As a rookie, he’s been asked to step into a mighty big role – first, the team’s second-line center with Jordan Staal out. Then, the team’s first-line center when Eric Staal also got injured. Rask has logged ice time both at even strength and on the power play, and he’s been reliable in the faceoff circle.
On Tuesday night against Buffalo, Rask led all Canes skaters (overlooking Alexander Semin’s two-for-two performance), winning 13-of-17 draws (76 percent). He was nearly 64 percent in the circle on Opening Night.
It was just one game, but Zach Boychuk made an impression Tuesday night against Buffalo. He and fellow Charlotte Checkers alumnus Chris Terry hooked up in the third period to bring the Canes within a goal. Late in the period, Boychuk tucked the puck in under the crossbar to tie the game. When the Canes needed a difference-maker, Boychuk and Terry stepped up.
“You need those guys to contribute," Peters said after the game. “They were good. ... They sent a pretty strong statement to the coach that they want some more ice time.”
“It’s nice to get a second lifeline," Boychuk said. "With guys going down, opportunities open up. For me to come back this fast into the season and make an impact early on feels really good. Hopefully I can keep contributing.”
What is Michelle Obama’s favorite vegetable? – Colleen H. (@C0lleenHamilton)
Amber Jaye suggested Barack-oli. Hey now!
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you want to know what my favorite vegetable is (hint: it’s not a turnip), you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes.