Carolina Hurricanes at Tampa Bay Lightning: A preview of the ECF we need

The Carolina Hurricanes visit Amalie Arena tonight to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams are off to strong starts and this has the potential to be a fun early season matchup.

The Hurricanes are once again everyone’s favorite pick to finally have their breakout season. They have depth everywhere in their lineup except for, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, in net. All four of their forward lines are a threat, particularly with second overall pick Andrei Svechnikov currently Wholesale nhl jerseys wreaking havoc on the fourth line while he adjusts to the NHL. The second line centered by Jordan Staal has been one of the best in the league in terms of both shots and expected goals. They’ve been outright dominant. And we haven’t even gotten to the top line centered by Sebastian Aho who has emerged as the star Canes teams of the past lacked.

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As good as the forward group is, the defense might be even better. A group that was already outstanding moved Noah Hanifin and brought in Dougie Hamilton. Hanifin is solid but Hamilton deserves to be in the Norris conversation. Adding him to a group that already include Jaccob Slavin, Justin Faulk, and Brett Pesce gives the Canes one of the best blue line in the NHL. And oh yeah, they also signed Calvin de Haan to play on their second pair who happens to be probably the most underrated free agent of last summer.

The bugaboos for Carolina have always been shooting and goaltending. They struggled to finish and they struggled to get even average play in net. The shooting woes seem to be turning a corner. Aho is a finisher. He gives them a goal scoring threat. Two other youngsters, Martin Necas and Svechnikov, have the pedigree to indicate they can score goals. If they fulfill that potential, the Canes will get real scary real fast.

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