The good kind of Hurricane
Chris McMurtry has a nice wrap on his Senators 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, a game in which Ottawa badly outshot the 'Canes. So much for being undefeated.
A lot of casual hockey fans are going to look at this loss and be shocked at the result. And, hey, don't look now, but at 5-2-1, Carolina is one of the best teams in the NHL.
I don't say 'I told you so' — it's just not my thing. But heading into this season, the Hurricanes were one team I thought was well-positioned to surprise people. Golbez even called me a crazy man.
Is James Mirtle a closet Hurricanes fan? He actually predicted the Sightless Eye to make the playoffs. I thought my prediction for them was optimistic.But catch a Hurricanes game if you get a chance.
What I saw entering the season was the potential for Peter Laviolette's uptempo style and a well-balanced cast of forwards on the top three lines to really transform the kind of stagnant team Carolina has been in the past. A few years back, Laviolette took a dismal NY Islanders club that no one thought could be saved to the playoffs two-straight years.
Prepare for the encore.
Sophomore Eric Staal has certainly arrived as he sits 3rd in NHL scoring with 12 points in seven games. 35-year-old Rod Brind'Amour looks the best he has in years, playing more than 24 minutes a night.
You know who else looks good? Jim Rutherford reclaimation project Oleg Tverdovsky, who is coming off two strong years playing in Russia.
Of course, the real story has been in goal — the very place Carolina's critics said would hold them back. My guess is they hadn't seen Cam Ward tend goal for Red Deer from 2001-04.
Sure it's early, but the Southeast division looks rather ugly so far this season, something that will only benefit the Hurricanes in the standings. And, after finishing 2003-04 in 29th spot in attendance, the team currently sits in 23rd this season.
Perhaps there's hope for the NHL in Nascar country after all.