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Tweetmail No. 165: Aho's First, Power Play & Stempniak's Injury

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, presented by our friends at Tijuana Flats! Wear your Canes gear to participating Raleigh locations on Wednesdays throughout the season and receive 50% off any entrée.

Tweetmail is 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.

Tweet from @Tiberious_Nero: S��bastien Aho finally got the first goal of the season, can we expect more breakout performances from him now that he is free of that monkey? #tweetmail #Redvolution

I think that's exactly what you're going to see.

Sebastian Aho scored his first goal of the season on Monday, Nov. 13, in the Canes' 16th game of the season. Last year, it was Nov. 12, the Canes' 14th game of the season (and he scored two in that game). Aho went on to score 22 more goals in what was ultimately a very productive rookie season; Aho's 24 goals were the second-most scored by a Hurricanes rookie in team (since 1997) history.

Much like then, now that Aho has netted his first of this season, I think you're going to see the goals now come in bunches. It's not like Aho was lacking scoring chances prior to Monday night, and that shouldn't change, either.

"I've had so many chances before this," he said after the game. "Just try to be positive and still make plays. Just don't think about it too much. I knew it was coming, and I'm glad it happened."

It was a good move for his first of the season, too. As Jordan Staal deftly stickhandled around Esa Lindell, who hit the ice at the blue line, Aho fielded the pass on his tape, went forehand-backhand to open up the five-hole of Ben Bishop and slid the puck in.

"That was nice to see. He's been getting a ton of chances," Staal said. "You could tell the monkey flew off his back after that one. Hopefully he continues to stay hot."

"It was good for him to get one. The guys were happy for him. That thing went in, and I don't know who was happier - more collectively on the bench or he himself," head coach Bill Peters said after the game. "He's been playing well, and he knew it was going to come."

On Tuesday in practice, Aho had a newfound swagger.

"He was [putting pressure on himself]. You don't want to say he is, but he definitely was. Then you see him today, and he's shooting it into the net like crazy. That's all it takes is that first one. He's been playing well and getting quality chances, and that's always a bigger indicator," Peters said. "Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come."

I think you're going to see that swagger translate to the ice now, where Aho will likely put together another 20-goal campaign.

Tweet from @Josh_Bartosik: How do you think the canes will fix their power play?

It's got to be back to the basics for the Hurricanes' power play, and I think you saw a marked improvement in the man advantage on Monday night against Dallas.

Yes, it took until the team's fourth and final power play of the game for the Canes to break through for the first time in six games, but good habits led to that tally, which was Teuvo Teravainen's first of three straight goals.

The concept is simple: put a body or bodies in front of the net, get pucks to the net and be tenacious on loose puck retrieval.

Brock McGinn was the body in front on one power play unit, and Elias Lindholm screened Bishop's eyes on the other. When Teravainen fired off his slap shot from atop the near faceoff circle, Lindholm was square in front of Bishop, who didn't have a great look at making the save.

More of that is going to lead to more production on the power play, which is in turn going to aid the Hurricanes' offense.

"We're all guilty of turning down opportunities to shoot. We need to simplify our power play by having a net-front presence, shooting pucks, scoring on seconds and thirds and being hungry on retrievals," Peters said after practice on Wednesday. "I think that's a scenario that's going to continue to improve."

Tweet from @glorybe23: Stempniak upper body injury now - is it concussion related? What exactly happened on his one shift with the Checkers?

We don't know too much about Lee Stempniak's latest upper-body injury, but I don't believe it is concussion related.

Let's back it up just a bit: Stempniak suffered an upper-body injury in the preseason and missed the team's first 13 games of the regular season. He was activated from injured reserve last week and assigned to the Charlotte Checkers for a conditioning stint to get his legs and timing back before jumping into NHL action.

But that conditioning stint didn't last long. Stempniak was injured again on one of his first shifts with Charlotte. So, now he's back in Raleigh, but he's not skating - and that might be the case for a bit.

"I know he got banged up when he went down. I haven't looked at exactly what's going on there. I know he's been looked at by our doctors, but I haven't looked at it," Peters said. "I don't think it's anything where we're going to get him back soon from what I've been told."

Tweet from @lee_taft: Seeing any comedy shows this week?

Tonight (if you're reading this on Wednesday), in fact! Whenever we are in New York, I try to make it a point to visit the Comedy Cellar. It's a legendary little (literally - it's in a basement, so the ceiling is low and it's tight, but that's part of the charm) venue, and I've seen some great comedians come through.

Speaking of comedy, check out the latest episode of CanesCast, which features a short live comedy discussion toward the end of the podcast. And, if you enjoy what you hear, consider subscribing on iTunes (rate and review!) and/or Google Play so you never miss an episode.


Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you would like to discuss favorite comedians, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

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