Happy New Years (finally)! 2018 and the month of December is most definitely something we can leave in the past especially with a poor showing by the Hurricanes who went 13:4-8-1 for the month. It was a month of exposed weaknesses, and with goaltending being decent, issues on offense and defense cannot hide in the shadows anymore.
Yes, they allowed 40 goals this month, but this is not on the goaltenders at all. Defense has been awful and repeated defensive breakdowns have left our tenders hanging to put the team on their back in attempts to just keep them in the game. On defense, we have sadly seen Justin Faulk backslide once again. Other concerns include Dougie Hamilton who has not been used to his full potential or used correctly in the first place which his mistakes have shown. One thing I’m ready for in January of 2019? Hopefully seeing Haydn Fleury, who played well up until his injuries, again and playing more.
Along with allowing 40 goals, the Hurricanes only scored 28. They were shutout three times and only scored once in four games. Making average and below average goalies look like Vezina candidates? Right on brand for the Hurricanes. It is safe to say our roster is not one of the most talented in the NHL, but if the few good pieces we have are used properly there is a chance of at least getting some points on the board. Utilizing these good pieces and letting go of the ones that are holding the team down will be crucial in the team’s success moving forward, and the month of December showed this to be true.
Before we get into the few good things we saw this month, let’s run through a quick recap of the games this month. The month started with the Cali road trip which was very subpar. It started against LA with Jonathan Quick showing up against the Hurricanes shutting them out and winning 2-0. Three days later the Hurricanes were once again curb stomped and lost 5-1 against the San Jose Sharks. Thankfully, the ended the trip on a high note beating the Ducks 4-1. After the road trip they came home and faced the Maple Leafs who had just regained both Auston Matthews and William Nylander. The Leafs won 4-1. The Canes then went to Montreal and lost 6-4. On the second half of a back-to-back they lost 6-5 in the shootout to the Washington Capitals at home for the beginning of the home-stand. The Caps game was Darling’s one start this month after being called up with Curtis McElhinney being out with injury. Petr Mrazek posted his first shutout as a Carolina Hurricanes on December 16th as a Carolina Hurricane when they best Arizona 3-0. They would then lose 4-1 to Detroit and 3-0 to the Penguins. But then December 23rd arrived— Whaler’s Night. The Hurricanes beat the Boston Bruins 5-3 in the beloved Hartford green and blue. It was most definitely a night to remember. The Canes then hit the road again and lost 3-1 to the Caps followed by a 2-0 loss to the Devils (who were also missing key players like Taylor Hall due to injury). Luckily, the ended the year on a high note with a 3-1 win over Philly and Andrei Svechnikov sliding into the net for what is arguably the greatest storm surge yet.
Some notable mentions for this month undoubtedly go to decent goaltending now with M&M and the Sebastian Aho/ Teuvo Teravainen duo along with none other than Andrei Svechnikov keeping our offensive at least somewhat alive.
Player of the Month
Good news everyone, Andrei Svechnikov is a Carolina Hurricane. He improved so much this month and has transformed himself into one of our best (if not the best) offensive players on the team. He still has his mistakes, but boy does he make up for them. He currently sits at 11 goals on the season; five of which he scored in December. Also, he has eight assists the season (two in December). One thing I admire about watching his play is he is not afraid to be physical. He uses his size to his advantage, and wow does he know how to execute a power move. We even got to see him on the first line for a hot second this month with Aho and Teravainen. I’m looking forward to what our young Russian superstar has in store for us in the months ahead as he continues to develop and hopefully get more ice time. One thing is for sure, he has not disappointed thus far this season.
Other Notable Mentions in December
- Petr Mrazek’s first shutout as a Hurricane
- Justin William’s 1,2000th NHL game
- Martin Nečas playing in World Juniors and being named Czech Republic’s captain
- Janne Kuokkanen got called up
- Best for last: Happy Andrei Svechnikov, and him helping us slide into the New Year
December was a rough one, full of ups and downs (mostly downs), but it’s a new month and a new year. Maybe we will appease the hockey gods soon, and I will find my unceasing optimism again.