The Carolina Hurricanes have taken their stride by capturing the top of the Metropolitan Division and although his harvest remains weak, forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi has contributed to his team's recent successes.
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While the Hurricanes blow everything in their path by virtue of their eight straight wins, the Finn has put his name on the scoresheet in each of his three most recent games. Friday, in a 6-5 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers, he scored for the second time in three games; consequently, he has five goals and as many assists for 10 points in 34 games this season.
Also, the goal of the former Montreal Canadiens remains to help his club win.
“The division games will be big and we want to play solidly during them. The other teams are also fighting vigorously. The year is long and we will have to be convincing,” he told the media after a disputed game last week.
Lots of pitfalls
In terms of personnel management, the first half of the campaign was not easy for head coach Rod Brind'Amour, who had to deal without the presence of key elements at one time or another. Among them are Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Frederik Andersen. Then, Max Pacioretty has yet to play in 2022-23.
Thus, the Hurricanes have used a formation with 11 attackers and seven defensemen a few times. Other skaters also took over to fill in the absences. Among others, Jordan Staal has totaled eight points in as many duels since December 10. This is without forgetting goalkeeper Pyotr Kochetkov, who has suffered only one failure in regulation time in 15 games. Consequently, at the Christmas break, Carolina held a four-point priority over the New Jersey Devils, second in the Metropolitan.
“We have confidence in what we are doing. We know we're a tough team to beat when we're playing good hockey," winger Jesper Fast told the team's website.
The "Canes" will host the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.