Finally, the day has come. The Carolina Hurricanes earned their first win of the season Saturday in a 3-0 shutout of the Arizona Coyotes.
Elias Lindholm scored two goals early, Justin Faulk had two assists and Cam Ward stopped 25 shots for his 22nd career shutout, but it was a definitely a win that the team earned as a group.
Maybe it was the return of forwards Nathan Gerbe and Patrick Dwyer or maybe making Alexander Semin – a player earning $7 million – a healthy scratch was the smartest move of the season so far, but something looked different about the Hurricanes in the first period. They had a different kind of energy, almost a swagger on the ice, and it certainly transitioned over to their play.
The Hurricanes burst out of the gate, scoring early after Lindholm pounced on a rebound, putting it by a helpless Mike Smith. Lindholm followed that goal with another at 17:22, grabbing another rebound opportunity and wristing it by Smith.
After securing the lead, it was all Ward. The goaltender had the best performance of recent memory, shutting down the Coyotes offence, who didn’t play poorly. They had opportunities to keep the game close, but Ward wasn’t having any of it. He looked locked in. His most impressive save of the night came in the second period when he robbed Antoine Vermette, who broke in on a two-on-one.
The group looked fresh and they played well, but was it a stroke of good luck? Or are things going to change as the season moves on?
Sitting Semin could indicate that they’re willing to make some changes. When asked about Semin possibly being a healthy scratch for Saturday night’s game head coach Bill Peters told the Hurricanes website that “Right now, he’s not in the lineup.”
“We’ve got a couple guys back from injury so we’ve got the ability to take some guys out.”
Sounds like a harmless response, but teams don’t normally sit a player making $7 million a season if unless they’re unhappy. It’s not like Gerbe or Dwyer are stud prospects who are being given a chance to show the Hurricanes’ brass what they can do. This move reads that the organization is not satisfied with Semin and rightfully so. The Russian forward had two points in eight games and already a plus-minus of -7. Add in the fact that a poor attitude and work ethic have always been attached to him and it’s clear that an issue arose somewhere. Maybe Semin is reverting back to having a bad attitude, or maybe he’s not as healthy as the Hurricanes are letting on, but something is up and it’s certainly not his point totals. The Capitals cut ties with the talented winger because of a terrible attitude and work ethic, despite the talented play maker having seasons of 40, 38 and 34 goals, so maybe Carolina is thinking the same thing, or maybe this is the kick in the pants that Semin needs to turn things around.
Speculation aside, the Hurricanes won Saturday and the group effort was a refreshing site to see. They should stick with what worked against Arizona, ignore all of the Connor McDavid talk, and try and win some hockey games because the fans deserve it. The goose egg is gone, it’s time to move on.