Coming into Thursday’s contest between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, the spotlight was on Alex Ovechkin and the current scoring slump he’s been on since he netted goal No. 400.
‘Ovie’ used a wicked snapshot to score his 31st goal of the season early in the second period, but the night was ultimately not his.
Carolina’s Jeff Skinner was the man who took the spotlight and attention away from Ovechkin on Thursday in Washington.
Skinner, a native of Toronto and former first round draft pick recorded a hat trick, scoring a goal in the first and second period, as well as putting home the game-winner in overtime. With the three goals, Skinner bumped his goal total on the season to 19, to go along with 11 assists for 30 points. Of note is the fact that he’s done all of this in just 30 games. The 21-year-old winger has been one of the highlights so far this season on a bad Hurricanes team that sits sixth in the abysmal Metropolitan Division.
The winner of the 2010-11 Calder Trophy has shown that he is capable of being a huge star for the Hurricanes and that last season, where he drastically underachieved with a plus-minus of -21, is a thing of the past.
The problem is that he’s got no back-up in Carolina.
Eric Staal and Skinner are the bright spots in the Hurricanes’ line-up this season, unless of course you count the small, but impressive, sample size of goalie Anton Khudobin, but how much longer is Carolina willing to go with a failing core of players?
They’ve committed big money and long-term deals to Alexander Semin, Jordan Staal and Tuomo Ruutu, who have not lived up to expectations this season and aside from the aforementioned Skinner and the promising Ryan Murphy, the team lacks young star potential to build around. Come on, this is a franchise that had the ultimate bust Rick DiPietro playing net for them in the minors.
If you know what direction GM Jim Rutherford and the franchise are going in then please speak up, because this writer is flabbergasted.
The present and future look bleak for Carolina hockey, even with the talented Skinner turning it around and things don’t look like they’re going to change any time soon, but hey at least Hurricanes fans will have goals like the one below to look forward to while their team floats amidst mediocrity in the NHL.