Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes it’s very easy for a fan to hear bad news about their team that was just starting to turn it around and throw hands in the air, conceding their team stinks again.
Carolina Hurricanes fans — resist this urge.
With Tuesday’s news that forward Alexander Semin would be out indefinitely due to a concussion, there was a sense of deja vu across North Carolina. The Hurricanes have not gone more than a week since before the State Fair Road Trip in October without some sort of injury activity. Every single week someone has either gone on or off of injured reserve. The Hurricanes have sustained more injuries than the Time Out in Chapel Hill has sold chicken biscuits on a Saturday night — which is a lot.
However, this is nowhere as season crushing as it might seem on the surface. First of all, Semin actually hasn’t been producing all that much to begin with. A barely noticeable three goals and skating at a minus-six really isn’t helping out a ton. Sure he’s turned in six assists, but then again so has Andrej Sekera, Justin Faulk, and Jeff Skinner. Skinner is still in that sentence despite having been hurt since October 24. Six assists isn’t an irreplaceable contribution. Right behind Semin’s colleagues on that assists chart is the possibly non-human Nathan Gerbe with five. Gerbe also has more goals, a better plus/minus, higher shooting percentage, and could absolutely use the ice time.
Speaking of Skinner, early reports have him possibly returning on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. His performance in practice has been great and head coach Kirk Muller has already had him skating with Semin’s linemates Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty.
Lest we forget about guys like Manny Malhotra who are nothing but resources for the team. Malhotra has been a huge surprise to many who questioned the signing of a busted up free agent. He’s been nails in the face-off circle where Carolina frankly needs the help more.
The real thing to keep an eye on here isn’t Semin and the bump on his noggin. It’s the situation with goalie Anton Khudobin and what to do with replacement goalie Justin Peters. Peters has been bonkers, piling up wins in his last five outings and Khudobin is not healing any faster. GM Jim Rutherford already told the News & Observer on Wednesday that carrying three goalies, a “goalie trade”, or sending Khudobin to Charlotte are “all on our radar screen.”
Since Rutherford is obviously dealing with a concussion of his own if he thinks any of those three ideas will work, it comes down to the performance of Skinner, Gerbe, and actual starting goalie Cam Ward. So long as these three guys can come up huge and carry the team through the week, including wins over Detroit and the re-match with the Boston Bruins, “What will we do without Semin?” will quickly become “Semin who?”