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Tweetmail No. 224: Old Friends, Defense & Goaltending

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes /

Hello and welcome to Tweetmail, a (usually, I swear) 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 @ZachBradshaw6: When a team faces a former goalie who has the upper hand? Obviously the Hurricanes bested Mac but in general who do you think normally has the competitive advantage

That's a really good question, one that has been super applicable as of late, with the Hurricanes facing Curtis McElhinney on Sunday and the Panthers facing James Reimer on Tuesday.

Both goaltenders played well against their former teams, too. McElhinney made 40 saves despite taking the overtime loss (he didn't get much help from the team in front of him), and Reimer turned away 47 of the 50 shots he faced in a wild game in South Florida.

There's no doubt that both of these goaltenders are skilled in their own right, and their performances probably say more about the specific game situation than anything.

So, is there an upper hand to be had? Does the goaltender know his former teammates' proclivities or vice versa?

"There are obviously little tendencies here and there, but, at the end of the day, guys are being rushed, and a lot of the time, they're just looking to get the puck off," Reimer said on Tuesday morning. "I think it's probably a little over-analyzed. The game is so quick, usually you're just making a split-second decision anyway."

Video: James Reimer: "Go out and have some fun"

Maybe the biggest advantage would come in the shootout, when certain inclinations can be more fully analyzed in a structured setting rather than the somewhat unpredictable chaos of regulation or overtime.

It's a question that's probably prime for some sort of statistical deep-dive to see if there's truly any indication one way or the other - but then how do you account for other factors, such as varying rosters or coaches or playing styles? However, given cursory thought to the question, I'm not sure there's too much to it, other than the goaltender simply having a little extra juice when he faces his former club.

"Any time you face your old team, you want to play well, and you want to get two points," a smiling Reimer said after Tuesday's game.

Tweet from @_evielutions: When should we expect TVR back and when he's back does that mean (inevitably) Haydn goes back to Charlotte? I've really enjoyed his play so far this season.

Trevor van Riemsdyk has been practicing in a contact element with the Hurricanes now for just about a week. He even traveled with the team to Washington and Florida and participated in both morning skates. With that in mind, he's certainly getting closer to a return, perhaps when the Canes head out west for their three-game sojourn through California next week.

The Canes' defense as a whole, including Haydn Fleury, has been good to begin the season. Van Riemsdyk is a perfect component for that 5-6 pair, so where does that leave Fleury? I don't think it will be Charlotte; that assignment would require waivers, and I don't see a situation where he slips through without being claimed. He's going to have to fight to stay in the lineup, but it's a fight for which he is no doubt ready.

"I've got a lot to prove this year. It's a big year," he said on the day before Opening Night. "I've got to prepare myself to play a full year and be the best player I can be."

Tweet from @Jimbo3420: When are we going to see if Ned has what it takes to be a No.1 goalie in the NHL?

Alex Nedeljkovic's time is coming soon, I think.

Is it in 2019-20? Perhaps not, though I do think we'll see Nedeljkovic play some games with the Hurricanes at some point this season.

So, why is he not with the big club right now? A few reasons factor in. One is that Reimer has been excellent in his first two starts with the team. The veteran is 2-0-0 with a 2.42 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. Another is that Nedeljkovic, the reigning AHL goaltender of the year, can travel to and from Charlotte without waivers and is on a two-way contract. That contract evolves into a one-way deal next season, meaning Nedeljkovic will earn $750,000 whether he's in the NHL or AHL; it's much more likely, then, that he gets more of a look in Raleigh next season.

I thought Nedeljkovic would get more of a look in the preseason, but the Canes had a fine line to balance of ensuring Petr Mrazek was ready to go while sorting out the back-up situation between Reimer, Nedeljkovic and Anton Forsberg, who also played very well in exhibitions.

"That was the toughest decision," Brind'Amour said in early October. "We had four really good ones. It's tough, but it's nice that we feel pretty good about it."

That's the silver lining to this: The Hurricanes have four very talented options in net, and they might need to tap into that depth at some point.

Tweet from @CStack59: When does aho get his first goal of the season?

Last night!

Video: CAR@FLA: Aho seals 6-3 win with empty-netter

This question, of course, came in before Sebastian Aho banged in his empty-net goal to seal the Hurricanes' 6-3 victory in Florida on Tuesday night.

In fact, one of my five takeaways from the game was going to touch on the fact that Aho was the only Canes forward without a point - and imagine what the offense, which had already totaled 15 goals in almost four games, was going to do once he hit his stride.

But, then Aho charged down the ice with the puck and fired it straight in from 25 feet out, and I ctrl-a + backspaced that takeaway. Aho let out a sigh of relief as the Canes celebrated what would become their fourth consecutive victory.

"He's been pressing," Brind'Amour said after the game. "He was shooting everything from all over trying to get a goal. Hopefully that relaxes him to go out and play his game."

Tweet from @Browntruck1980: Does the Hurricane Warning Horn really work on the hand winding of the device by the celebrity or is it recorded audio that is played on the PA during the winding?

It is indeed the actual sound produced from the siren itself via a wireless microphone rigged up on it. In fact, a number of teams, including Vegas, have replicated this element of game presentation, though, from a brand standpoint, it fits perfectly with the Hurricanes.

Tweet from @DaneFrazier: Do you think the hurricanes will go 98-0 this season?

The dream is still alive! Just ask Wilson Phillips.


Join me next week for more questions and more answers!

If you have a question you'd like answered or you'd like to berate me for not cracking open the ol' mailbag for just over a month (which is totally fair), you can find me on Twitter at @MSmithCanes, or you can drop me an email.

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