The Carolina Hurricanes had their historic 17-game point streak and an 11-game winning streak come to a halt after facing the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The Hurricanes, who hadn’t lost a game in regulation since Nov. 23, were bound to lose eventually. What’s frustrating is that this was a winnable game for the ‘Canes.
Whether you want to point to questionable officiating, the inability to beat Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin or the fact that Pyotr Kochetkov was a bit rusty headed into Tuesday’s 5-3 loss, they were all contributing factors.
As I mentioned, the Hurricanes weren’t going to finish the season 70-6-6, but they have the ability to rebound strong and take advantage of their next string of games, as five of their next six are against teams that are not currently (Jan. 4) in a playoff spot. Looking back on the lengthy streak, here are the primary takeaways that made them successful.
Raanta and Kochetkov Comfortable in the Crease
You can’t earn at least a point in 17 straight games if you don’t have good goaltending, and though the Hurricanes’ starting goaltender, Frederik Andersen, is still sidelined with an injury, Antti Raanta and Kochetkov got the job done.
Kochetkov has been fantastic over this stretch, acknowledged by winning the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for December. During this stretch, Kochetkov had an 8-0-2 record, with a save percentage of .937. After not playing since Dec. 20 because of a nagging injury, he was thrown in against the Rangers, who have a dominant offense.
Raanta had an 8-0-0 record during the streak, registering a .892 save percentage, which is well below the league average. However, stats don’t matter as long as you are getting wins. The Hurricanes clearly play very well in front of Raanta; that record also includes two shutouts, which is propping up his save percentage quite a bit.
Regardless of how they are playing individually, the Hurricanes have a chance to win each night. Their goalies haven’t been letting them down, which might be surprising given the way they started the season.
Hurricanes’ Group Effort
The Hurricanes did not have any players averaging over a point per game during their point streak. However, offense has not been an issue. They have the talent for at least one player to have 17 or more points during that stretch, although eight players had ten or more points, which is quite impressive. Brent Burns led the way with 14 points in 17 games, with Martin Necas right behind him with 13. Most of the top players expected to produce have been, but there have also been a couple of surprises from their depth players.
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Stefan Noesen is tied with Necas for second on the team in points during these 17 games, which has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season thus far. He is closing in on his career high of 27 points, and he has looked like he fits in very well. Unfortunately, Noesen left the game after taking an awkward fall against the Rangers, and we are still awaiting an update.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been producing of late as well. After struggling to find the scoresheet during the first chunk of the season, he now has 10 points in the past 17 games, and while he has moved up and down the lineup, he is still being depended on for plenty of defensive opportunities, but if he continues to find his scoring touch, he may work his way back into some offensive responsibilities.
Brent Burns might be one of the most frustrating players in the NHL. Every game, fans might be reminded how great he is and that he is one of the most valuable players on the team until his next shift when he reminds them that some of his most common mistakes are the most unforgivable ones. The value Burns brings to the team doesn’t go unnoticed. He has an excellent offensive game from the blue line and, more specifically, a shot with the potential to make things happen, whether it’s a goal or a rebound. It goes without saying, but Burns knows exactly what he is doing with the puck on his stick. Don Waddell did a fantastic job making this move happen.
Hurricanes Have Hot Starts
During this 17-game span, the Hurricanes scored 22 goals in the first period. A hot start to a game is key, all the better if the opposition comes out sleepy, and the ‘Canes can take over from the start. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour has done an excellent job of making sure his team is ready to go at puck drop every game.
Carolina out-scored their opponent 22-8 in the opening frame, meaning not only was the offense ready to play, but their defense and goaltending were also ready to face whatever came at them. Allowing only eight goals in the first period over this stretch is an important part of the team’s success.
What’s Next for Carolina
The Hurricanes will have an opportunity to get back on a streak during the next stretch to continue to cushion their lead in the Metropolitan Division standings and keep chasing the Boston Bruins for first in the NHL; the Bruins are six points ahead with a game in hand, but Carolina is sure to make this a close conversation. Now that the calendar has flipped to 2023, it is time to get ready for the playoffs.
If the Hurricanes can take advantage of their upcoming schedule and get another streak going, they will be in great shape for Max Pacioretty’s debut, which should be within the next ten days or so.
My name is Jacob Billington, and I cover the Carolina Hurricanes here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, becoming a hockey fan was quite easy. Falling in love with the game in the early 2000’s, and taking in as much knowledge as I could since then. I appreciate everybody who reads my content, and I take pride in creating the best experience for readers. Feel free to reach me on Twitter, I am always active and talking about anything hockey related!