It’s been said time and time again that the most important thing in all of sports is momentum. In a game or in a season, nothing can replace having good momentum on your side to keep the wins coming. As the Carolina Hurricanes lace up for the first game of their four-game road trip through the Pacific Division on Monday, momentum is clearly on their side.
The only caveat to this is that they are taking on the Vancouver Canucks, who also have momentum on their side. After a win over the ailing Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver is on a four-game winning streak that includes a points streak from defenseman Jason Garrison. Starting goaltender Roberto Luongo seems to have returned to his winning ways, having coming really darn close to a 28-save shutout on Sunday night.
This streak is being pitted against the Hurricanes, who are on a three-game tear of their own, punctuated by forward Jeff Skinner going rogue with six goals and an assist in his last five. Captain Eric Staal is an assists factory with four of them in as many games.
Furthermore, head coach Kirk Muller has a pair of prime-time goaltenders to choose from in Justin Peters and regular starter Cam Ward. Peters, who was recently backstopping the AHL Charlotte Checkers, is the 25-ranked goaltender in the NHL in save percentage with .922. Muller can either go with the anomaly Peters or Ward, who is proving why he’s one of the best clutch goalies in the league today with a .906 GAA on 427 shots in only 15 appearances.
At this point, Muller can throw darts at the roster and be okay with either netminder.
Speaking strictly on statistics, Carolina has a better record when scoring first than Vancouver does. When applied to the real world, this becomes important when you realize that the Hurricanes have finally begun to come out swinging in the first period. No matter the season’s numbers are, it comes back to the momentum issue. Carolina is striking fast and first, and with the exception of the San Jose Sharks game, they have learned how to dictate the action to their opponents.
With the injury bug starting to rear its ugly head, Carolina will be without Drayson Bowman, Brett Bellemore, Pat Dwyer and Mike Komisarek — all freshly injured. Forward Alexander Semin is still out with a concussion, but has been skating in practice. Unless some miracle happens, don’t expect Semin any time soon. With any luck, the injuries will be out of their system after this spat passes. Yet, it still stretches the roster thin for Vancouver.
While the only guarantee is that someone’s winning streak will end on Monday night, there’s no reason for Carolina not to walk away with theirs intact. Sometimes, it’s as simple as just keeping it up.