NHL Carolina Hurricanes

5 Most Promising Things About The Carolina Hurricanes

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5 Most Promising Things About The Carolina Hurricanes

Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports

It's a well known mantra among sports fans, nearly to the point of being cliche.

"Y'know, these guys ain't so bad."

While the Carolina Hurricanes haven't been celebrating that many victories this season, they have somehow held their own in the Metropolitan Division standings. Wins however, are what count.

Hurricanes' fans have remained freakishly loyal in this shaky time, standing by their team even in a loss. That's not what fans want to do, though. They want to scream victoriously from the top of bar stools, get in the faces of rival fans, tweet about wins, and more than anything, go home from the arena hoarse and satisfied. Nothing short of winning hockey games will bring the fans back to their happy place.

In the last week, Carolina has been able to put together some wins, and have begun to show signs that yes, these guys in fact, ain't so bad. With some successes here and there, the team is turning it around and showing their true potential to be a force in the Eastern Conference.

There is nothing more precious in sports than momentum. With signs of promise and life, more wins on the board, and more to celebrate about-- the Hurricanes have momentum to spare. The key is to carry this momentum through the autumn and into 2014, if there are to be May-tailgates outside of PNC Arena.

Here are five signs that prove these guys ain't so bad, and are actually able to make a decent run at things after the Olympic Break.

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5. The Power Play

James Gullory - USA Today Sports

No way to talk around it, the Hurricanes have improved leaps and bounds on the man advantage.

In a division that has suddenly become more physical, penalties and how you handle them are more important than before. Carolina has struggled to convert on the power play most of the season, and while it has yet to translate into the stats sheet in a significant manner -- the power play is showing signs of life.

When teams have been acting with impunity, knowing they can take a penalty with not much repercussion, improving the power play is key. With more ticks in the PPG column, the Hurricanes are sealing up some leaks.

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4. Tim Gleason's Return From Injured Reserve

Timothy Ludwig - USA Today Sports

One man a defense does not make, but Tim Gleason is pretty close to the exception to that rule.

Gleason is a tough-as-nails, gritty defenseman who brings a physicality and brawn to the back end that is visibly absent. Poke-checks and takeaways are nice, however having Gleason on the back end, laying in the body, keeping the crease clear, and dropping gloves at key moments, is the tone that needs setting.

With Gleason reportedly ready to return, his bulk and brawn will lift the sagging defense back to where the team needs them.

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3. The Top Line

Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports

Marquee players are not only there to put butts in seats; they are there to put banners in the rafters.

The top line of Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, and Jiri Tlusty have the talent and skill to be one of the most feared offensive forces in the East.

Aside from Staal's dominance of the face off circle, the top line has had issues gelling as a unit. Recently, they have found their stride and are putting offense on the board.

The sooner this line can start running the offense, the sooner you'll see the lower lines join in.

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2. Success On The Road

Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

The Hurricanes take an annual road trip in October, caused by the North Carolina State Fair being held at the fairgrounds adjacent to PNC Arena. The State Fair Road Trip, as it's known, is a fantastic indicator of successes and needs moving into the bulk of the season.

While the team has been shaky before this, going 2-for-2 on the trip is a much needed boost in confidence. On the road, the Hurricanes have a much higher power play percentage, more shots, and far more wins.

Taking what they've learned on this trip will translate into nothing but good, upon their return to Raleigh.

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1. Nathan Gerbe

Kevin Hoffman - USA Today Sports

Ask any fan in the PNC Arena parking lot what their opinion of Nathan Gerbe is, you'll get the same answer.

"This guy is amazing."

Gerbe has found his niche in Carolina. There's few teams that can't benefit from a fast, scrappy forward with a shoot-first mentality and physicality to spare. Gerbe has brought the style of bang-bang offense that the rest of the conference has been playing, to Carolina, who's been slow to adopt.

Universally liked by teammates, incredibly coachable, and with a stellar Hockey IQ, Gerbe is exactly what the team needed, at exactly the right moment.