Ho, ho, ho 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.
Even including last night’s game in Philadelphia, the answer is yes – but to a certain extent.
This much is clear: the offense is clicking. The team scored five goals in four straight games, the first time that has happened in team history and something that hasn’t happened in franchise history since March of 1987. Additionally, the team has netted at least one power play goal in each of its last six games (eight PPGs in that stretch), and Jeff Skinner has notched two hat tricks in his last three games, a franchise first.
But while the offense has found its groove, the Canes have found themselves playing a bit looser on the defensive side of the puck. Yes, they’ve scored 23 goals in their last five games, but they’ve also surrendered 19 in that stretch. They’ve won three of those five games and earned a point in a fourth, so the results are there, but getting caught in these track-meet 6-5 and 5-4 games isn’t ideal long term.
“We want to continue to generate offense and grade-A scoring chances. We probably need to tighten up a little bit. I don’t think we needed to be as open as we were in Arizona. But in saying that, we had chances to put the game away,” head coach Bill Peters said before Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia. “We’ve got to learn how to play with a lead. We haven’t had a two- or three-goal lead a whole bunch, and we’ve got to be more comfortable in that situation. We’ve done a lot of good things. We’ve just got to stay with it.”
The team is arguably playing its best hockey of the season: chemistry among the forward lines is clearly evident, especially within the Skinner-Rask-Di Giuseppe trio, and the young defense looks very capable and not particularly overmatched.
This week, the Hurricanes announced that they would not release Noah Hanifin to play for Team USA in the World Junior Championship.
This is a multi-faceted decision, one that must consider both his development as a player and how the decision affects the Hurricanes. In the 2013-14 season with Elias Lindholm, the decision was made to let him play in the World Juniors for a number of reasons, including that the tournament was being held in his home country. It helped the young forward, who was hampered with a shoulder injury during the summer, regain confidence in his game.
Hanifin is in a bit of a different situation. He has quickly established himself as a full-time NHL defenseman. For his development, practicing with an NHL team and playing in NHL games is going to be more beneficial than a junior tournament. For the Hurricanes, who utilize the 18-year-old (18!) on their first-unit power play, they are a better team with Hanifin on their roster.
Indeed there is a time limit, and it’s spelled out in section 13.8 of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement: “Such Conditioning Loan shall not extend for more than fourteen (14) consecutive days.”
Here are a couple of other small details about conditioning loans that may or may not be widely known: it has to be mutually agreed upon by the player and club, and the league has the right to block the loan if, for instance, it believes the club is attempting to circumvent waivers.
Here’s the funny/sad/frustrating part of that tweet: no links here (they’re not hard to find), but there were actually reputable(?) websites that believed we truly did not know what the phrase meant. Of course we knew! We’re on the Internet constantly – probably too much for our own good – and were trying to have some fun before a late-night game. And, astute followers will recognize that’s not the first time we’ve tweeted that.
In this instance, the Stars respond back with a “Princess Bride” reference, and we played along. As far as Exchanges Between Sports Teams On Twitter Dot Com go, it was pretty entertaining we thought. But, for whatever reason, the takeaway was that we don’t keep track of current Internet lingo.
Oh, and look: here’s @LAKings making a similar joke. Mashable, Bleacher Report, et al.: still waiting on your blog posts about that.
Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you all get to enjoy the warm company of family and friends this holiday season. Tweetmail will take a holiday break next week, but we’ll be back on Dec. 30 with more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you’d like answered or you want a Christmas request passed along to Stormy Claus, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.
Also, don’t spoil Star Wars. Please.
is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.Email