#1 The Hurricanes have strength in numbers von williamsones 17.10.2019 10:23

4. The Hurricanes have strength in numbers

The line of Martin Necas, Ryan Dzingel and Erik Haula, left to right, has been excellent for the Hurricanes thus far. Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images
While Carolina didn't necessarily make any big splashy acquisitions like a number of their Metropolitan Division counterparts did this summer, they had a sneaky good offseason. They did so by making under-the-radar yet notable improvements at pretty much every position across the board.

On the blue line, they upgraded by switching out Calvin de Haan for Jake Gardiner, and giving the minutes that went out the door with Justin Faulk to Dougie Hamilton, finally unleashing him on the hockey world. Hamilton has been playing like a man possessed, taking full advantage of all of that extra usage by producing huge numbers offensively. He's up over three and a half minutes in average ice time from last season, has scored four goals and added four assists in seven games. With Hamilton on the ice at five-on-five, the Hurricanes have controlled an impressive 55.1% of the shot attempts, 55.7% of the shots on goal, and outscored opponents 7-2.

In net, James Reimer appears to have shaken off whatever ailed him in Florida last season, quickly reaffirming the belief that those struggles more related to the defense in front of him than anything he was doing wrong. He's looked excellent in all three of his outings thus far, including an impressive pair of efforts on the road against the high-powered Panthers and Capitals attacks, during which he stopped 79 of the 84 combined shots he faced. With Reimer and Mrazek, the Hurricanes look well-suited to once again hover around a 50-50 split in net, which bodes well for their ability to keep both goalies fresh and optimize their performances later into the season.

As good as all of that is, the biggest strides have been made up front, where they appear to have added some legitimate secondary scoring punch. The most intriguing of the bunch is the new-look line featuring three players that weren't on the team during their postseason run last spring: Erik Haula (a trade acquisition), Ryan Dzingel (a free agent signing), and Martin Necas (promoted from the AHL). Those three encapsulate so much of what makes this Hurricanes team special, from the different paths they took in getting here, to the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, to the relentless up-tempo pace at which they like to play.

They have nine combined goals between the three of them, helping to carry an offense that's somehow still in the top 10 when it comes to goals scored per hour despite Sebastian Aho having just two points and Nino Niederreiter not having scored yet. Following Tuesday night's win in Los Angeles, that trio has now played just under an hour of five-on-five hockey for the season, and has crushed the competition:

Time on ice: 58:30

Shot attempts: 48-33

Shots on goal: 37-21

High danger chances: 11-4

Goal differential: 4-2

There's a lot of random variance this early in the season when it comes to performances on both an individual and team level. It's going to take a while before things stabilize and we truly get a more reliable feel for what's real and what's not. One takeaway that we can comfortably make right now however is that this Hurricanes team is once again very good, and that their impressive start to the campaign is no fluke. They can beat you in so many different ways, and they're putting that on full display already.

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