Staal leading Hurricanes charge
Posted February 15, 2013
The Carolina Hurricanes came back from a six game, 12-day road-trip Thursday to face the Toronto Maple Leafs and interest was high as fans waited to see if the road production would continue.
During the road trip the Hurricanes grabbed nine of a possible 12 points, winning four games, three in regulation and one in overtime. Things seemed to finally be clicking for the team behind the play of captain Eric Staal.
With the lockout, new additions to the squad Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin and no real training camp, team chemistry took time to develop. Skepticism was natural as the Canes struggled through the first few games, but the team that look destined for success on paper has come to life in the past two weeks.
"In the beginning we had about seven new guys, when that happens they are trying to get the system down and even just get to know the players," said head coach Kirk Muller. "I think they are now, they are playing well together, they're having fun and they're playing for eachother. It's their team."
Eric Staal is on an 11-game point streak (the longest such streak in the NHL this season), notching 17 points off of eight goals and nine assists. The center currently leads the league in plus-minus at 12. Much of the captain's success can be attributed to the addition of Semin to the first line. Semin has three goals and seven assists so far this season. With Staal's play being complimented by his wingman, he's had the opportunity to play more of a coaching role, much to the benefit of his teammates.
Back home Thursday, fans were treated to one of the most solid games the team has played in 2013. With Dan Ellis in goal the Canes took a 3-1 victory over Toronto. Recent re-addition Joe Corvo had the first score of the game in the second thanks to an Eric Staal assist. Jussi Jokinen and Jordan Staal also scored in the second to secure the victory.
"This was the game that probably scared us the most, you come off that road trip and sometimes the guys drop their guard a little bit and have a little bit of a lull, but I give our leaders credit. They had all the guys ready to go from the start," Muller said after the game.
Jordan Staal's production continues to increase, his second goal of the season brought him to 12 points on the year, ranking him third on the team. He trails his brother and third year player Jeff Skinner.
After winning rookie of the year in his first season, Skinner had a 'down year' last season. Hurricanes fans are happy to see the young talent back in the scoring column on a regular basis. Skinner is on pace to hit 51 points this year, one point more than he had in a full season last year.
The Hurricanes now have a three-day break before heading to play the Montreal Canadiens Monday. They'll be back in the PNC again next Thursday, and the way things are going Canes fans could expect hockey around here for a lot longer than that this season.