Hurricanes TSA Line off to a strong start

Teravainen, Staal and Aho find chemistry

James Guillory—USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho (20) skates with the puck against San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward (42) while Jordan Staal (11) joins the rushNov. 15at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the San Jose Sharks 1-0.

RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes are hoping their newly formed line of Jordan Staal centering Finns Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho can continue to be good enough to stay together and push their nickname to league-wide prominence.In the two games since coach Bill Peters put them together, the TSA Line has found instant chemistry — and led Carolina to its first consecutive wins of the season.”It’s been two games, it’s still early, but it’s been a lot of fun playing with them,” Staal said of his new linemates. “I’ve said plenty of times they’re both very talented players, smart players that can skate but have got great skill and know how to move the puck. So it’s been fun.”In their first game together, both Teravainen and Staal had a goal and three assists, and Aho scored his first two NHL goals and also got an assist in Carolina’s 5-1 win over Washington.They followed up their four-goal, 11-point night with another strong performance in the Hurricanes’ 1-0 victory over San Jose Tuesday, highlighted by two minutes-plus in the Sharks zone on their second shift of the night that resulted in four shots on goal by Teravainen.Despite not scoring, the shift set the tone for the game.”Those are always fun shifts to play,” Staal said. “It’s too bad we didn’t finish with a big goal, but those are the shifts that win you games. And that’s the style of play we need to play to wear teams down and grind teams for a win.”Staal found similar success with teammates Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil last season, with that line effectively checking opposing teams’ top lines while contributing on the scoresheet. That trio, which averaged 203 pounds and more than 6-foot-2, dominated with a ferocious cycling game that utilized its size.Staal, listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, continues to use his size to his advantage. But his new linemates — both 5-foot-11 with Teravainen weighing 178 pounds and Aho at 172 — rely more on skating and skill to own the offensive zone.”I think they do it maybe a different style than myself and Nordy and Nesty,” Staal said. “They may not be sticking their back out and leaning on guys. [It’s] more of them using their speed and their hands to move the puck quicker and make guys react defensively faster instead of letting them come to them and them and kind of leaning on them and going from there.”Peters said Teravainen and Aho definitely use “more quickness than size and strength” to get the job done, but cautioned underestimating their ability in the trenches.”It’s funny when you watch Aho on the forecheck, he gets in and he moves people, too,” Peters said. “He gets good body position and he separates guys from pucks.”Staal said Aho thinks the game like a veteran despite being just 15 games into his NHL career. “He’s just a smart player,” Staal said of Aho. “[He’s] good positionally and kind of knows little holes to create offense and where to put the puck in areas to succeed. He’s offensively gifted, he’s got great hands and good speed, and he’s only going to get better. “He’s been good on both sides of the puck as well. He’s got a lot of hockey sense and that goes a long way at 19,” Staal added.Teravainen came to Carolina (5-6-4) with more than 140 games of regular season and playoff experience under his belt from his time in Chicago, but joining to a new team is an adjustment for any player — particularly one who just turned 22 in September.”I think I’m getting better every game,” Teravainen said, flashing a smile that maybe wasn’t there a month ago. “Just get to know all the guys better and the system better. So it makes me feel more comfortable.”After jumping from wing to center and now back through the first month of the season, Teravainen looks like he’s found his place on the ice — and is more at ease off it.”It just seems like he’s settling in,” Peters said. “There’s some instant chemistry there with him and Sebastian Aho, and I think Jordo’s an easy guy to play with. So far through two games it’s been a good line.”It’s premature to mint the TSA Line as one of hockey’s best — even too soon, perhaps, for the line to have a nickname at all. The Hurricanes just hope whatever is making it work will continue Friday when Carolina hosts 13-2-2 Montreal.”We played good two games, we win two games,” Teravainen said. “So that’s of course good. I think we just work hard and shoot the puck and help each other out there.”