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.
As was announced on Tuesday, Justin Faulk will represent the Hurricanes at NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles in a short couple of weeks, marking the American-born defenseman's fourth All-Star appearance.
Faulk has missed seven games due to injuries this season, but for the 34 games he has been in the lineup, the 24-year-old has been the steady, minute-eating presence that we've come to expect on the back-end. Despite missing some time, he still leads Canes defensemen in both goals (7, which also ranks tied for second among Metropolitan defensemen) and points (17) and continues to regularly log north of 20 minutes of ice time each night.
This year, though, there was some thought that the Hurricanes might have different representation at All-Star Weekend. The two names that come to mind are Jeff Skinner and Jaccob Slavin. As good of a year as Skinner is having - he's got a team-leading 15 goals and 32 points through 40 games - the Metropolitan Division is stacked with talented forwards; Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are locks each and every year, and Evgeni Malkin might as well be, too, so the available spots are limited. Slavin is now in his second season with the Hurricanes, and there is no doubt that his time to be an All Star will come, probably sooner rather than later. He and Brett Pesce comprise a defensive pair that is one of the league's best-kept secrets at the moment, but Slavin will soon receive league-wide acclaim for his play.
Any of these three are valid All-Star selections, and the mere fact that this conversation exists is a good problem to have.
Faulk spoke on Tuesday about heading back to All-Star Weekend.
Video: Justin Faulk talks about being a 2017 NHL All-Star
The Hurricanes played game No. 41 of 82 on Tuesday, a thrilling 5-3 win over the league-leading Columbus Blue Jackets. At the mid-point of the season, the Hurricanes have amassed a 19-15-7 record and 45 points. That puts the team on pace for 90 points, which is a four-point improvement over 2015-16 but still likely short of what it will take to qualify for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Since divisional realignment and the introduction of the new playoff seeding, it has taken an average of 96 points to snag the second and final wild card spot. So, the Hurricanes are going to need to find an extra six points or so in their final 41 games in order to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
"We know we're going to have to go at a better pace than we did in the first half," head coach Bill Peters said after Tuesday's win. "There's 41 games left. There's a lot of points left on the table. At some point we are going to have to go on a big-time, continuous streak."
That's essentially what it's going to take for the Hurricanes to make the push required to find those extra points. The Hurricanes are 13-4-1 at home this season, helped along by an 11-game point streak, and 22 of the team's final 41 games are at home. Now the team is going to need to assemble a streak that spans both PNC Arena and the road, a consecutive streak long enough to continually snag points and climb in the standings, and the team is going to need to avoid a similar streak in the opposite direction.
Is it going to be easy? Nope, nothing ever is, and the abundance of three-point games in the league makes it more difficult. But is it possible? You bet, and this Canes team is talented enough to pull it off.
Speaking strictly venue and strictly this season, I would say either United Center in Chicago - it's an enormous, energized building - Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay - from the organ to the tesla coils to the gigantic video board, it's a fun place to see a game - or the brand-new Rogers Place in Edmonton - despite the press box being set high up and far back in the building (nothing like the old barn), this is a massive and absolutely gorgeous new rink. From a city standpoint, I always enjoy Nashville, Vancouver, Montreal and New York City, to name a few.
I would guess it is mostly healthy waters and protein mixes and what not. My favorite #HurricanesHomegrown craft brewery is Lynnwood Brewing Concern. They brew some tasty beverages, and I live right near their restaurant, which is a plus. Lynnwood flights will be featured again on March 18, but you really can't go wrong with any of the five other local beer vendors.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a favorite aspect of #HurricanesHomegrown, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.