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Playing against Hurricanes sucks

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This is the face that just sent the New Jersey Devils into their toughest crisis of the year with a 37-game win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

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Andre Ringet/NHLI via Getty Images

Okay, okay, this picture is from the 2019 draft. This kid is 23 years old now. But still! That dreaded Pyotr Kochetkov, who was pushed into the starting role in net with the Canes last month, has put up a 10-1-4 record for Carolina and is helping make them the most disappointing team ever to face the entire NHL.

Since emerging from a decade of insignificance with an exciting young nucleus in 2018-19, Coach Rod Brind’Amour’s men have played primarily original hockey. They get a lot of opportunities for themselves, and they don’t give up a lot of opportunities the other way. That apparent arithmetic has continued this year, as Canes allows the fewest shots per game of any team in the league and creates the fourth-most on offense. As a result, they’re between the ages of 20 and 6 and they sit on top of a very tricky subway section, but the story of how they got there is a bit more complicated.

Carolina has dealt with a lot of shake-up this season, losing key contributors like Nino Niedereiter, Vincent Troschek and last year’s annoying running back Tony DiAngelo. And even the people they usually counted on in the past several years are not the people they usually count on right now. Sebastian Aho, regular top scorer with 30 goals since entering the league as a teenager in 2016, has missed the last two weeks with a lower-body injury, and Teuvo Teravainen, once the squad’s top playmaker, has struggled to stay put. healthy and did not. It produced all that much when it was on the ice.

However, the Canes have won six in a row, and 10 of their last 11, because a little bit of scoring from some of the other young forwards has gone a long way when they are backed up by a tight defence. And even when that fails, Kochetkov’s unexpected brilliance has given Karolina everything she needs to keep winning. Andrei Svechnikov, Marty Nekas and Jordan Staal step up to fill the goal gap, and key defenders like Brady Skegee, Jakob Slavin and Brett Peske are still more than the sum of their parts, doing a very dull but effective job of turning out the lights on their end of the ice.

And there’s another name on the blue line that I didn’t mention, because I still can’t quite believe it happened: Brent Burns is back! Since the Sharks’ beloved caveman was traded to Canes this summer, the 37-year-old has found new life in a pairing with workhorse Slavin that doesn’t require him to overextend his energy. And even though he was eventually called out, this Fountain of Youth move he pulled last night was pretty sweet:

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Only two out of three pieces need to work properly for the wand to get a pair of points. In a 1-0 stifle of the Red Wings last week, the D-men were dumping molasses in the neutral zone and Kochetkov collected any puck that broke through. In a 3-2 win over Team Kraken last Thursday, the goalie was less than flawless but only had to make 15 saves to join the skaters in their celebration. And against New Jersey, the Raiders ended their chances while Kochetkov made sure the Devils couldn’t do the same. Whatever shape he needed to keep the puck from crossing the line, he bent into it.

It’s really infuriating how a team can seemingly lose so much of what made them great and still…still great. They lost last year’s Offensive Defensive Player of the Year in DeAngelo and part of their depth forward as well. Fredrik Andersen, who finished fourth in last year’s Vezina voting, was sidelined with an injury on his part. He’s not around. Teofu It might be on its way back But mostly it wasn’t the same. Bite these sticks to ignore all of this! All the other competing teams, most of them star-studded, are beneath them – the Caps, Penguins, Rangers, Devils – they just have to feel steam coming out of their ears when they see these random Carolinians basking in the glow of their latest victory.

Well Well. It’s hard to get mad about it, actually.

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