The Carolina Hurricanes’ Teuvo Teravainen broke into a big smile Thursday when asked if he’s better at center or on the wing.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if anyone knows, so let’s find out.”
The Canes are still in the process of finding out what Teravainen can do. They traded for the Finnish forward in the offseason, looking to land an impact player, bringing in a young forward who was a former first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks and helped the ’Hawks win the 2015 Stanley Cup.
Through the first nine games, playing the wing, it’s been something of a slow go for him. It’s also understandable.
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Teravainen, 22, still is adjusting to a new team, new linemates and a new system. He’s living in a different city. And he is dealing with perhaps inflated expectations, as many Canes fans believed he would immediately inject needed skill and scoring into the lineup.
Teravainen has a nickname – “Turbo” – that some say describes his style of play. But his offensive totals – two goals and one assist, with eight shots on net – have been modest. While he has been comfortable and generally effective on the power play, his five-on-five contributions have been negligible.
“I need to get my game going. I need to find my confidence,” Teravainen said. “I think whenever you have your confidence things are going to happen. You’re going to find the puck and the puck is going to find the net. It just hasn’t happened yet, so I just have to work hard to get going.”
Canes coach Bill Peters took a look at Teravainen at center during the Thursday practice, with Sebastian Aho and Andrej Nestrasil on the wings. Teravainen has played on a line with Elias Lindholm at center and Aho at the other wing, and Peters also has used Phil Di Giuseppe with Lindholm and Teravainen.
“Maybe putting him in the middle is something that might work,” Peters said Thursday.
Teravainen said he was at center in about half of his 78 games last season for the Blackhawks, when he had 13 goals and 22 assists.
“I’m ready to play wing or center or anything,” he said. “I think it’s a good challenge for me.”
Teravainen scored in the second game this season, on a power play against Vancouver. In a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames two games later, he teamed with Aho and defenseman Noah Hanifin on a quick rush into the Canucks zone that ended with Teravainen banging in his own rebound.
Teravainen has had one point since that game as his line has been mostly quiet. He was on the ice Tuesday against Ottawa when the Senators, badly outplayed much of the first period, scored on their third shot of the game for a 1-1 tie.
Neither team scored in the second or third periods, and the Sens won 2-1 in overtime, dropping the Canes to a disappointing 2-4-3.
“I feel like it’s the small things we need to do better, and I need to do better,” Teravainen said.
Teravainen, an easygoing type off the ice, said he enjoys being with this team, this group of players. He enjoys living in Raleigh.
Hockey players like to talk about “building a game” – that is, getting stronger as the game moves on. Teravainen would like to think he’s building a season.
“It’s kind of hard because you want to score, you want to make your team better,” he said. “You have to stay patient. You find your confidence. Sometimes all you need is one good game, sometimes one good shift. Just stay positive.”