Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, 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.
Jordan Staal has been doing some skating on his own over the last five days, but he has yet to rejoin the team at practice, even in a non-contact situation.
"At least he's out there and starting to feel a little better, so that's a positive," head coach Rod Brind'Amour said on Jan. 11.
Staal has missed the team's last 12 games with lingering symptoms from a concussion that caused him to miss five games in December. In between the two absences, he returned to play a game but didn't make it through the second after receiving a hit to the head. Staal and the Canes are obviously using upmost caution in this situation, but it sounds like his recovery is headed in the right direction, which is a positive sign.
That leads us to …
It's pretty impressive that in the absence of Staal - someone who chews up big minutes in every situation, is a bear to go up against on the ice and is a formidable opponent in the faceoff circle - the Canes have been able to not only survive down the middle but also see sustained success in the win column. I think that can be attributed to a few factors, including the emergence of All-Star Sebastian Aho in the middle, Lucas Wallmark's ability to match up against and shut down opponents' top lines on a given night and reliable depth contributions from Greg McKegg.
That's not to say that certain aspects of the Canes' game haven't dipped, and it's perhaps most noticeable in the faceoff circle. The Canes ranked sixth in the league in faceoff win percentage (51.9 percent) through Dec. 22. In the 12 games since, the Canes rank 28th in the league at just 45 percent.
"That's one guy being out," Brind'Amour said on Monday. "That's a huge worry for me because possession time is vital, and just the other stuff he brings. We've managed to get by. Some other guys have stepped up to fill his minutes, Seabass being one of them."
Obviously, Staal slots back in the middle when he returns. With his production at center, I'd think Aho remains there, and Wallmark would, as well. That leaves one center position open for Victor Rask, McKegg and Clark Bishop (when he returns healthy). Bishop could be returned to Charlotte, and McKegg has made a strong case to remain on this roster. Tough decisions ahead.
INT. PNC ARENA OFFICE - DAY
Michael sits at a desk and looks around the office, admiring his surroundings. He maniacally rubs his hands together. The lights dim. He maniacally laughs, still rubbing his hands.
Don Waddell opens the door.
What are you doing in my office? And why are the lights out?
Twitter said I -
That was fun while it lasted.
If for some strange reason I became general manager and could make a single move, I would trade a right-shot defenseman for a scoring forward. The Canes have a surplus of the former and need to add at least one of the latter, so it makes sense, right? I know, I know. Way easier said than done, and if was that easy, it probably would have happened already so just STICK TO TWEETMAIL AND STUFF, YOU NERD. That's fair.
It's shifting, generational thought, I think. This class of players in the league currently differs greatly, both on and off the ice, from the one that came before it.
Put simply, the game's changed.
"I think it's all good. I'm shocked anyone would think it's not," Brind'Amour said of the Storm Surge. "You can see the people, they love it. The kids that are doing it at their rinks now. To me, it's the young people. My little guy can't wait to see what happens. I come home, and he's doing it and excited about it. I see it at the rinks, the kids and teams are doing it now. It's fun, and it's creating attention for our game."
Give credit to Justin Williams, a 37-year-old veteran of the league, for embracing something so different and so unique.
Speaking of …
They keep getting more and more intricate, it seems. The dominos in the shape of the W might be my favorite, but two recent ones have given that one a run for its money - Williams bowling for Canes, and Brock McGinn laying down the hammer while the team falls over from the shockwave.
Video: CBJ@CAR: McGinn leads new Storm Surge celebration
I can't wait to see what else the team has up its sleeve.
I haven't seen any of them do it, so I'm going to say no. It would be impressive, though, if one could.
Join me next week for more questions and more answers!
If you have a question you'd like answered or you have a suggestion for a future Storm Surge, you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.