The Carolina Hurricanes and Frederik Andersen simply cannot lose a hockey game right now.
Even more impressive for the Canes are that all six wins have come in regulation, and all six have come with Frederik Andersen between the pipes.
Here are some takeaways from Carolina’s win over a talented Bruins squad Thursday night:
Frederick. Freaking. Andersen.
So far, so good for the Canes’ new starting netminder. Andersen has been incredible all season, but he was at maybe his best in Thursday night’s win over the Boston Bruins.
Andersen posted his first shutout in a Carolina jersey, stopping all 33 of the shots he faced. His expected goals against in the game was 3.37, and he faced (and stopped) a staggering nine high-danger shots against.
“He’s been a rock for sure and you’re not going to win that many games in a row without great goaltending and he’s been just that,” said captain Jordan Staal. “He’s been everything that’s been advertised about him. Just a good dude and he’s been really good for us.”
He did so many special things Thursday night, and he was 100 percent the reason Carolina was able to win the game. Staal put it best calling Andersen a “rock”, though at this point he’s looking more like a bunch of rocks that have built a wall.
And on top of his outstanding performance stopping pucks, Andersen helped out in another way Thursday night, too. He assisted Nino Niederreiter’s second-period deflection goal, making him just the second goaltender in franchise history to have a shutout and an assist in the same game (Arturs Irbe did it against Boston back in 2002).
Andersen has been the Canes’ top star so far during this young season, and he was that for the team once again Thursday night in a big win over a playoff team.
The Canes’ PK has been one of the best in the league and one of the team’s overwhelming strengths so far this season, and it was that way again Thursday night.
Boston went 0 for 5 on the power play, failing to score on two separate 5-on-3 chances. The Bruins got some looks on the power play, but couldn’t find the scoresheet despite spending a lot of time with at least a man advantage.
“That’s the game,” said head coach Rod Brind’Amour. “Those were really crucial moments, and it was a great effort from those guys out there. Freddie was great tonight, but the penalty killers in those crucial times stepped up.”
The most important killer, as it tends to be, was Andersen, but the whole unit was up to the task Thursday night. Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei and Jesper Fast all played over two minutes on the penalty kill, with the Bruins mustering just one shot during the 5-on-4 time throughout the game.
The Canes are going to want to stop taking so many penalties, that’s been maybe the biggest negative during the 6-0 start, but the penalty kill has been nothing short of phenomenal. It was that way again Thursday night, in one of Carolina’s grittiest wins of the season.
The Secret to 6-0
It’s not always going to be perfect, but a win is a win. The Canes didn’t play their absolute best game Thursday night, but they did get a couple of good bounces and fantastic goaltending to get the one stat that matters, the one in the win column.
“Everything has to go your way,” Brind’Amour said about the 6-0 start. “Tonight, we got the bounces. We got a crazy goal, really, two goals. If it goes the other way, you don’t win the game. That’s why it’s hard. There’s a lot of randomnesses. You get a random call that doesn’t go your way, you’re killing a 5-on-4, then another one and you’re killing a 5-on-3. That’s usually the game. There’s so much randomness to hockey, that it’s hard to string games together, but when you have your goalie making saves for you, it certainly helps your chances.”
And things are certainly going Carolina’s way right now. Andersen is playing incredible, and so too is the penalty kill. Other areas haven’t been going great, like the power play, but the Canes are getting some bounces and some playoff-caliber goaltending early in the season.
Carolina will lose a game, and it’ll likely happen sooner rather than later. But right now the team is 6-0, and the recipe has been some commanding wins mixed with some grind-it-out wins. To be a great NHL team, you have to be great at winning both.
A Meaningless Stat About Andrei Svechnikov
Andrei Svechnikov is an elite NHL goal scorer, a young talent who has the ability to find the net in a variety of ways (including some unique ones that nobody has ever done before).
That being said, Svechnikov also has an uncanny knack for padding the stats a little bit late in games as well. Svechnikov netted an empty netter Thursday night for the second straight game, and for the third time this season.
In his NHL career, Svechnikov has scored 65 goals in 211 games. With his empty net tally Thursday night, 13 of those 65 have come without a goalie in the crease. That is an absurd 20 percent of Svechnikov’s career goals.
Again, this stat means nothing. It’s not a bad thing to score empty netters, and it doesn’t take away from Svechnikov’s abilities in the slightest. Hey, the all-time leader in empty net goals is a guy by the name of Wayne Gretzky (56 of his 894), and I’ve heard he was pretty good.
The Canes are 6-0-0, and nothing past that really matters. They have their first back-to-back coming up Friday night, and that might mean the first glimpse at Antti Raanta (and maybe Seth Jarvis).
Carolina will lose a hockey game, at some point, but the start has been magnificent.