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Tweetmail No. 171: MVP, Outdoors & Peaky

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Happy New Year 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 @nhlcanesfans: #Tweetmail who would you say is the Canes��� MVP to this point?

We're two games away from the midway point of this season, so it seems like a reasonable time to step back and assess who has had the greatest impact on the team's success thus far.

A couple names jump out right away because they're at the top of the Canes' scoring list: Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. The two Finns, who have played on opposite wings on the same line for much of the season, have been dynamic offensively - and that goes beyond just scoring goals, too, because both had kind of slow starts in that regard.

Teravainen, who sees himself as more of a playmaker than a scorer anyhow, had three goals in his first 15 games before netting his first career hat trick and two more goals in the same week en route to an NHL First Star of the Week performance in mid-November. Aho, who didn't score his first goal in his rookie season until November, did the same this year, going without a goal in his first 15 games.

But even still, the two were contributing on the scoresheet. Aho had eight assists and Teravainen had six in the first 15 games of the season. They've since led the way offensively and each have 30 points in the first 39 games of the season: Aho has 11 goals and 19 assists, and Teravainen has 10 goals and a team-high 20 assists.

With Jordan Staal centering the two, affectionately known as the "TSA Line," the trio is a tough to contain in the offensive zone. Staal's a big man who can bang bodies and roll around with the puck. Aho is on the smaller side but "hockey strong," as head coach Bill Peters notes, and competitive. And Teravainen can make a play out of seemingly nothing, and he's got a sneaky good shot.

Those are the two names that jump off the page for me, but you could also make the case for Justin Williams. He doesn't wear a letter, but he is, without a doubt, one of the team leaders on and off the ice. He's been there. "Mr. Game 7" has won the Stanley Cup three times, including once with the Hurricanes. He knows what it takes to not only get there, but then to win it. That addition, I think, has been huge for this locker room. He holds himself and the team to a high standard, never settling for just good enough. His impact thus far is arguably team MVP worthy.

Tweet from @Tiberious_Nero: How huge is simply occupying a playoff spot for the team? How will they take that momentum into Pittsburgh? #Redvolution

It's huge, if for no other reason than seeing that cut line, looking above it and seeing the Hurricanes' logo.

It's refreshing and exhilarating to have cleared that mental hurdle, one that the team has been chasing for some time.

"Once you get in that, you need to keep climbing and keep getting points," Justin Williams said after Tuesday's overtime loss to Washington.

Now, we have to realize we're just 39 games into an 82-game marathon. There's plenty of hockey left to be played, and a lot can happen in those 43 games (23 of which are at home). The Hurricanes have jumped into a playoff spot. Now they need to keep building and keep climbing.

I think Jeff Skinner put it best on Wednesday night: "It's nice when you look at the standings, but there's still a lot of hockey left. We've gotten some pretty good results in the last couple of weeks, and we want to try to keep that going. It's not something that we're going to look at and try to savor; we want to try to keep climbing. That's the mentality now."

Tweet from @imbackinpogform: Could you ever see the Canes getting an outdoor game? #Tweetmail

I'm holding out hope that an outdoor game featuring the Hurricanes will happen one day. There are only a handful of teams in the league who have yet to play in an outdoor game, and I see no good reason why the league wouldn't eventually want each team to experience the spectacle.

I proposed what I believe to be a pretty sound, intriguing scenario for an outdoor game with the Canes in Tweetmail No. 145: Hurricanes vs. Predators (another team that has yet to play a game outdoors). Maybe this becomes even more of a possibility in a couple of seasons if the Canes achieve some sustained success. I think it would be great. It doesn't have to be the Winter Classic; it can be a Stadium Series match-up. Or call it something new! Why not? Let's make it happen.

Tweet from @RealChrisCote: #Tweetmail seriously, how great is Cillian Murphy, though?

Cillian Murphy is nothing short of brilliant as Thomas Shelby in "Peaky Blinders." Really, all the performances in season four are top-notch. Adrien Brody is phenomenal as Luca Changretta, and Tom Hardy as Alfie Solomons is always a delight. If you haven't watched season four or any seasons of this British drama, head to Netflix now. You won't regret it.

Tweet from @AwaitingAndrew: Which Hurricane do you think would make the best addition to the cast of Peaky Blinders? #Tweetmail

Ohh, this is a good one. Two seasons ago, I would have said James Wisniewski because his haircut was reminiscent of the look of the Blinders. Scott Darling might be a pretty intimidating presence, either as a Peaky Blinder or the muscle of a rival gang. I could see assistant coach Steve Smith being a good cast addition, too. I think he'd look and play the part pretty well.

What do you all think?


Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you'd like more thoughts on season four of "Peaky Blinders," you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes or drop an email here.

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