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Tweetmail No. 92: 2016, World Juniors & All-Star Weekend

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Hello and welcome to a weekly feature on 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.

This question intrigued me, so I looked into it and here’s what I found.

After games on January 5 in the 2014-15 season, the Hurricanes were 12-23-4 with 28 points. This season, they are 16-17-7 with 39 points, an improvement of 11 points with one additional game played. That’s a pretty big spread, especially considering that a playoff spot at this point last season was an insurmountable 17 points away versus just a five-point margin this season.

At this point last season, the Canes were a dreadful 4-15-2 on the road, but this year they are knocking on the door of .500 at 8-9-3. Through 39 games last season, the Hurricanes were averaging a league-worst 1.97 goals per game. This year, that statistic is closer to the league average at 2.30 goals per game. The Canes surrendered an average of 2.62 goals per game at this time last season, a number which has seen a slight uptick this season at 2.78 goals per game.

The Hurricanes ended last season with 44 power-play goals. Thanks in large part to Justin Faulk, they’ve scored 20 at the midpoint this season, about on pace to match last year’s total. Speaking of Faulk, he’s on pace to have a career year, if that wasn’t already evident. At his current clip, he’d score 27 goals and tally 61 points on the season

As you can see from a sampling of the numbers above, though there remains work to be done, the Hurricanes have made strides this season. And, as young as the team is this season, that’s a very encouraging sign.

With the World Junior Championship coming to a thrilling close yesterday and with a pair of Hurricanes prospects shining bright on the international stage, I naturally received a lot of questions about the tournament.

Obviously goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and forward Sebastian Aho garnered loads of attention for their play in the tournament. Nedeljkovic backstopped Team USA to a bronze medal, and Aho played a key role in Finland’s gold medal finnish in their home country. Nedeljkovic had a .943 save percentage in the tournament, and Aho, who centered Finland’s dynamic scoring line, posted 14 points (5g, 9a) in seven games. That’s the cliffs notes version of their performances, which are documented in much greater detail by Colleen Hamilton here. You should probably read that.


This year’s revamped format will feature divisional teams that will compete in a 3-on-3 tournament, and each team will feature six forwards, three defensemen and two goalies. We already know four players who will be headed to Nashville in late January – Jaromir Jagr, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and John Scott (not a typo), who were voted by the fans to be the captains of their respective divisional teams – but what about the remaining 40 players? Those decisions have been made by the League’s Hockey Operations staff and will be announced today, with each team having at least one representative on an All-Star roster.

As for who will represent the Hurricanes, I would guess his name begins with J and ends in ustin Faulk. As I noted above, he’s having a career season, setting not only team and franchise records, but also NHL records. I think that earns him a spot in Nashville as one of the Metropolitan Division’s three defensemen.

UPDATE: Indeed, Justin Faulk has been named to the All-Star Game for the second straight season. He joins Kris Letang and Ryan McDonagh on the back-end for the Metropolitan Division, which also features Nicklas Backstrom, Claude Giroux, Evgeni Malkin, Brandon Saad, John Tavares, Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider, in addition to Ovechkin as mentioned above.

Oh, and here are the jerseys.

He is, indeed.

Just to catch everyone up if you aren’t aware: Gleason practiced with the team in mid-November in a trial run of sorts to see if he could return to the NHL, but the comeback bid came to a close on Thanksgiving Day. Fast forward a week and Gleason is back on the ice with the team but in a coach’s sweat suit instead of his usual garb.

I’m not sure his role has an official title beyond part-time assistant, and it should be noted that he is helping the team on a volunteer basis. Head coach Bill Peters told us that he would “help us out in some different areas and work with our young D-men.” So, that’s basically what he’s doing. He’s on the ice for practices in Raleigh, and you can spot him as an “eye in the sky” during home games.


Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you’d like answered or you want to talk “Making a Murderer” – because, seriously, let’s talk about it – you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

Michael Smith
MICHAEL SMITH is the Web Producer for the Carolina Hurricanes.

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