• August 1, 2021
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Throughout 28 games played so far in the 2021 season, the Carolina Hurricanes are dominant throughout the Central division and National Hockey League. With young talented players and a strong coaching staff, the Hurricanes prove themselves to be among one of the current best teams in the NHL. (Photo permission of wikimedia.com)

As of March 22, the Carolina Hurricanes are among the top five best teams in the National Hockey League. Despite the new Covid-19 protocol, the Hurricanes have proven themselves to be among the top tier teams and leading Stanley Cup contenders for the 2021 season. 

The beginning of the 2021 season started out quite interesting for the Hurricanes. 

With the previous season suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NHL introduced a new health and safety protocol for the start of the 2021 season to prevent further spread of the virus. Applying to all 31 teams, the new health protocol limits team interaction with fans and opposing team staff and players. 

Among one of the bigger changes with the new protocol is the creation of entirely new divisions for teams. NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, introduced the new divisions as a way to help boost principles of social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. With the new divisions created, limitations are also placed on scheduled games. Each team will now play a shortened 56-game schedule and face teams only in its division during the regular season. This means the Hurricanes can only face off against the 7 other teams within their division, and have a quicker season.

The Hurricanes found the new schedule and protocol to be odd at first, however the shortened game schedule benefited the Hurricanes as the season further progressed. Playing the same teams over and over again helps coaches and players learn more about their opponent’s game. Further helping the Hurricanes learn and improve from constant game repetition.

Climbing their way up the standings, the Hurricanes sought a bright future ahead of them for the 2021 season. However, many players began to fall to injury, with fractures, concussions, and other scratches that would end the season early for some players. Numerous injuries for the Hurricanes forced many changes to the starting lineup.

Taking a heavy toll on the Hurricanes roster, major injuries such as star player Tuevo Teravainen and starting goalie Petr Mrazek caused the Hurricanes to decrease in offensive and defensive strength. Despite the loss of players to injury, the Hurricanes acquired many talented young players from their AHL (American Hockey League) affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, to take up the positions of fallen players. 

Newly acquired players such as Jake Bean, Steven Lorentz, and Morgan Geekie filled in on the Hurricanes lineup and showed their speed and talent by putting up 14 combined points for the Hurricanes within just a few games played. And with goalie Petr Mrazek injured, the Hurricanes brought in former AHL Calder Cup champion Alex Nedeljkovic, who stands strong in goal with 250 saves out of 269 shots faced, and an impressive save percentage of .929. With all the new raw talent acquired, the Hurricanes are able to win games with the speed, youth, and talent of these new young stars.

After a few games played with the fresh players in their new division, the Hurricanes eventually adapted to the new protocol and soon began to take the league by storm.

Throughout the season, the Hurricanes managed to put up numerous points and climb the standings with each game won. With young, quick, and skilled players, the Hurricanes easily took over the Central division instantaneously. After only 28 games played so far in the season, the Hurricanes sit with a 20-7-1 winning record and 41 points, only one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning who sit first place in the overall league’s standings. 

The Hurricanes also became the first NHL team to reach 20 wins in the 2021 season so far and held the first place position in the Central division for three consecutive weeks with an eight game win streak – one win shy of tying the franchise’s longest win streak. 

With such a successful season so far, the Hurricanes managed to hold their ground within the top three overall rankings. That is until a recent 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, which pushed the Hurricanes down in the standings. Despite the loss, the Hurricanes sit in fifth place in overall standings and third place in the Central division. 

As the second half of the 2021 season begins, the Hurricanes continue to be dominant throughout the Central division and are within great sights of reaching the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

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