Six games into the season, what do we know about the Carolina Hurricanes?
We know the annual State Fair trip is out of the way. The Canes finished that up Saturday with a 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars, going 2-2-0 on the four-game roadie that took them to Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary before Dallas.
The Canes are 3-2-1 and have proven to be a tough out in the three losses. Here are six other things to ponder after six games:
▪ Jeff Skinner just keeps scoring goals. It doesn’t matter who’s at center on his line or who he has on the other wing. Skinner scores.
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Skinner, an alternate captain again this season, has been a constant offensive leader through the six games, scoring five times. He ended last season on a scoring tear and hasn’t stopped, getting 22 goals in his last 25 games.
“He’s been dangerous for a long time now,” Peters said. “He’s a dangerous guy. He gets the puck in good spots and works hard in the offensive zone, so he’s getting rewarded for that.”
▪ The Canes’ defensive corps still must come together as a group of six. Pairing Jaccob Slavin and Brett Pesce is a no-brainer, but Justin Faulk and Noah Hanifin need to be better as a pair and newcomer Trevor van Riemsdyk and rookie Haydn Fleury will need more time to gel after van Riemsdyk missed three games with a concussion.
The Canes allowed 51 shots to the Edmonton Oilers in the second game of the road trip, albeit in a 5-3 win. On Saturday, the Dallas Stars had a lot of open ice and scoring chances.
Slavin, fast emerging as one of the NHL’s best D-men, has been terrific at times and the others have had their good moments. But as a group they need to be better.
“We can’t give up the opportunities we’ve given up,” Peters said. “Too many freebies, too many goals against. We’ve got to get that figured out.”
▪ Scott Darling has been OK but not great. The Canes traded for Darling to be their new No. 1 goalie and he has started five of the six games, going 2-2-1.
Cam Ward, in his one start, had 48 saves in the victory over Edmonton. Darling’s save percentage is .898, 35th in the NHL goalie standings before Sunday’s games. His 2.57 goals-against average was 18th.
▪ A tighter enforcement of the faceoff rule by NHL referees this season has adversely affected the Canes, so far. Among the league leaders the past few years, Carolina is 21st at 48.9 percent through Sunday’s games.
Derek Ryan has won 55.5 percent and Jordan Staal 54.6 percent of their draws. But Victor Rask is at 44.6 percent, Marcus Kruger 42.9 and Elias Lindholm 40 percent of their faceoffs.
The Canes won 25 and lost 37 draws in the loss to the Stars. On a late power play by the Canes, Lindholm was beaten by the Stars’ Tyler Seguin on the initial power-play draw. It all adds up.
▪ The Canes are scoring 2.67 goals a game … and allowing 2.67 a game. Neither is very good. Carolina is 25th in scoring and 20th in goals against.
▪ The decision to let Martin Necas, Carolina’s first-round draft pick this year, play another year for Brno in the Czech Republic is probably the right one, for Necas and the Canes.
The 18-year-old center does have speed and offensive skills. And he did make his NHL debut before going back, getting a taste of what’s to come.