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.
The Canes recently won a shootout with only two shooters. Was that a first for the franchise? – Bruce K. (@blk4004)
Before we dive into the answer, let’s clarify the question: we’re talking about instances in which the Canes have won shootouts with each of their first two shooters scoring goals. In this case, the other team’s third shooter does not shoot. (There have been instances in which the Hurricanes have used just two shooters and won – those being when the opposition shoots first and is denied three times – but they’ve scored just one goal.)
The question is referring to the Canes’ 3-2 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 13, in which Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm each scored and the Avs’ two shooters were denied.
To answer the question: it was not a franchise first. It has previously happened four times. The Canes have been involved in a league-fewest 69 shootouts since 2005-06, meaning 7.25 percent of their shootouts have been decided in this particular fashion.
The first instance was Nov. 25, 2005, when Radim Vrbata and Matt Cullen bested Mikael Tellqvist in a 4-3 win over the Leafs. Three years later, on Nov. 16, 2008, Tuomo Ruutu and Rod Brind’Amour beat Mike Smith (not me) in a 3-2 victory over the Lightning. A year later, on Nov. 19, 2009, Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen scored on Jonas Gustavsson in a 6-5 win over the Leafs. Finally, on April 23, 2013, Riley Nash and Jeff Skinner beat Evgeni Nabokov in a 4-3 defeat of the Islanders.
What do you think we’ll see in the way of trades as the deadline approaches? – Andrew S. (@aschnitt53)
Honestly, I have no idea.
Great answer, right? But it’s the truth.
I think how active or inactive the Canes will be as the March 2 deadline approaches depends on a few factors.
It’s no secret that the two biggest Canes names slated to hit the free agent market this offseason are Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty. Ideally, the team re-signs each player to an agreeable and beneficial term and dollar amount. If that doesn’t happen before the trade deadline, though, you’d have to think general manager Ron Francis would like to get something in return before they depart and the Canes are left empty-handed come July 1.
Another factor to consider as the deadline approaches is how the team continues to play with its full complement of players. For the last few weeks, the Hurricanes have iced the lineup they thought they would have on 10-10-14, and the front office might not want to so soon dismantle a product they’re only now getting to properly assess – and it’s a product that has posted a 6-2-1 record in the 2015 calendar year.
With those factors in play, it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds as March 2 draws near.
What sort of changes have you noticed with the team’s play and/or attitude in 2015? – Matt S. (@Mattchoo12)
I think it’s simple: they’re finally emerging on the right side of these one-goal games. What has helped that cause has been their ability to find the back of the net more than once per game, a rampant issue in December. They’re finishing off more plays and getting some more bounces around the net.
Other than that, I don’t think there is much difference in play or attitude. But winning is certainly a lot more fun.
“We’re figuring it out, and we’re more positive,” Brad Malone said after Monday’s win in Toronto. “It’s one period at a time. That’s kind of cliché, but we’ve been sticking with it.”
Sticking with it is key moving forward.
“We like the way we’re playing, but we have to do it over a consistent, long-term basis here,” head coach Bill Peters said last week.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you’d like to berate me on the Internet, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes (or drop an email here).