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Tweetmail No. 129: Sticks, World Juniors & Awards

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Happy New Year 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.

Tweet from @PatrickClarke: @MSmithCanes Why does #86 use two different brands of sticks? #Tweetmail

Good eye!

Teuvo Teravainen used STX Surgeon Rx2 sticks from the beginning of the season until late December. After the game in Buffalo on Dec. 22, he wanted to change it up.

So, he began using Victor Rask's Bauer sticks on Dec. 23 when the Canes hosted the Bruins. That night, Teravainen netted the game-winning goal in overtime, so, naturally, he has stuck with Rask's Bauer sticks. Since then? He's registered points in five straight games (1g, 4a) and assists in four straight games. He now ranks fourth in team scoring with 20 points (9g, 11a).

Bauer it is - for now, at least.

Tweet from @dabrams2021: @MSmithCanes #Tweetmail: do you think as of 1-3-2017 that Canes will make the playoffs? Were you happy w Canes WJC prospects performances?

Two questions in one tweet. Sneaky, Doug!

First, the question of playoffs. I do still think it is possible, though it's not going to be the easiest feat for a couple of reasons. One is that the Metropolitan Division is absolutely on fire right now. Columbus? They've won 16 games in a row. Pittsburgh? 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. Additionally, the Rangers are 6-4-0 and the Capitals are 6-2-2 in each of their last 10 games. So, everyone is winning, and that creates a logjam in playoff spots, whether it's the top three divisional spots or the two wild cards.

Secondly, the Hurricanes have not looked as sharp coming out of the holiday break as they did prior to it, and head coach Bill Peters said as much after the team's languid 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

"We haven't played as well coming off the break, and that's disappointing. That's just the reality," he said. "We have to find a way to get that back."

And while the team has only played four games since the break, they've posted a 1-3-0 record in that stretch with the only win coming in a cross conference match-up (against the Western Conference's best team, of course) and the three losses (regulation, at that) coming against Eastern Conference foes. The Canes saw two points slip away in Pittsburgh when the Penguins scored two goals in the third period to win 3-2. Two power-play goals from the Lightning in the first period doomed the Canes in Tampa Bay. And a slow effort against New Jersey sunk the Canes for the third time in as many games against the Devils this season. Points are at a premium, especially within the division and especially considering the amount of three-point games that occur on a nightly basis.

If the Hurricanes want to climb the ladder into a playoff spot, they need to find their groove again - sooner rather than later. After this two-game trip to the Midwest, the Canes play nine of their next 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents, seven of which are in the Metropolitan Division. Those are big, big points on the line.

Secondly, World Juniors. It's been an excellent showing for the Hurricanes' prospects, especially on Team Canada. Julien Gauthier has been a point-per-game producer with five points (3g, 2a) in as many games. In Canada's quarterfinal match-up with the Czech Republic, Gauthier scored twice, including the game-winner, to help his team to victory. Nicolas Roy has tallied a goal and two assists and Jake Bean is a plus-1 in five games.

It's tough to judge Janne Kuokkanen's performance since Team Finland, as a whole, has underachieved after last year's gold medal, but he's logged more ice time per game as the tournament has progressed, and he recorded an assist and was a plus-1 in Finland's 4-1 win over Latvia in the second game of the relegation round.

We've had some solid coverage of the World Juniors on CarolinaHurricanes.com. If you've missed any of it, you can check out the most recent recap here

Tweet from @Chelles116: Hey @NHLCanes I love the chop wood/carry water, but what happened to the fireman's helmet? And what's up with the WWE belt?

I know this question was directed at @NHLCanes, but I hope you don't mind that I stole it for #Tweetmail because it's a good question.

The fireman's helmet was retired at the beginning of the season with the introduction of the Chop Wood, Carry Water postgame award, which features a traveling ax and a complementary pail in the Canes' weight room.

The championship belt, meanwhile, has stuck around after its introduction in December of 2015. As for what it means or stands for? Other than it pairs with the ax, it seems that's anyone's best guess. Here's a look into our archives.

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Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a favorite "Black Mirror" episode from season three, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

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