RALEIGH, N.C. – According to past history, the Carolina Hurricanes haven’t fared well in season or home-opening games.
Current NHL records show that Carolina sits second-last among all 30 teams with an all-time record of 8-19-8 in season-opening games.
The first game of the season hasn’t fared well for Carolina regardless of location, as it possesses a 3-11-1 slate on the road, and a 5-8-7 season-opening resume at home.
Though starting on the road is usually a disadvantage to any team, the first four games of this year’s NHL season which began on Wednesday ended with all four road teams winning.
Add to the fact that Carolina is riding a four-game win streak during the latter part of this year’s preseason, and hopes are that the Hurricanes will start with a win to open the season in Nashville on Thursday.
Head coach Bill Peters pointed out following practice on Wednesday that scoring early and often will be important against the Predators.
“The first period’s big every night,” Peters said.
“You look at the stats around the league, when you score first and you have the lead after 40 (minutes). In order to get that, you wanna score first and try and put them on their heels a little bit. It goes a long way for confidence to get on the board early, and that’s what we’d like to do.”
A few more positives for Carolina heading into the first of two meetings between the teams this season is that the Hurricanes have won four of the last six meetings between the clubs, and have only gone into overtime in four of 21 games played.
The squads tied their two-game 2014-15 season series with each team winning at home.
With that said, Peters still indicated concern regarding the team’s offensive production that will be needed to earn the first of hopefully many wins this season.
“That’s gonna be something we focus on and improve,” he said.
Though he’s not exactly sure when they’ll score, Peters knows who he expects to do so throughout the year.
“Lindy for sure has to (score); he’s a third-year pro. By no means has he reached his ceiling. Victor Rask. Jeff Skinner wants to get in that 30, 35-goal range again and more.
For Carolina’s rising offensive stars to put the puck in the net, how does Peters intend to get a jump on a big and fast Nashville defense?
“You gotta make sure they turn, you gotta finish checks when you can, and you can’t let them jump by you,” Peters said.
“They’re gonna try and beat you up ice and they’ve got very good mobility in all three pairs.”
You have to think that Peters’ mention of Skinner and Rask producing when heading into the matchup against the Preds was intentional as both lead the team in points tallied against Nashville – Skinner with 10 points (5g, 5a) in seven games and Rask with two points (1g, 1a) in one.
Peters also indicated that he expected the Hurricanes’ blueliners to actively participate and finish just as well on the offense.
“I think we can generate more from our back end and get up in the rush more and support the rush,” Peters said.
“There’s things we can do, and if we have a power play that’s consistently good all year, then that will help out.”
Circling back to Carolina seeking to change its fortunes in winning the opening game of the season, another interesting statistic of note is that defenseman Justin Faulk, who was named one of the team’s alternate captains on Wednesday, has recorded an assist in each of the Hurricanes’ last three season openers (vs. DET 10/4/13; at FLA 1/19/13; vs. NYI (10/10/14).
If you read between the lines, you can see that it may have been more than a coincidence for the coach to announce and bestow an important responsibility such as captaincy on the 23-year old a day before the first game of the season.
It could only provide that much more motivation for him to work harder to help lead this team into the 2015-2016 season with a win.
“A guy that’s gonna be a big part of our program moving forward,” Peters said of Faulk.
“He already is a big part of it. I just think there’s so much upside to him.”