Category 5: Whalers Night, post-deadline success and Hurricanes’ tough schedule

Carolina has 16 games remaining in the regular season

Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb and Hurricanes forward Jesse Puljujarvi battle for a loose puck during their game March 11 in Raleigh. (Karl B. DeBlaker / AP Photo)

The Hurricanes have the first of three road games on Friday when they play the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

1. At practice on Thursday, several Hurricanes new to the team this year were breaking in their green and blue gloves for Whalers Night on March 26.

I went to plenty of AHL games in my youth — the old New Haven Nighthawks, Springfield Indians and Springfield Falcons — but my first NHL game was at the Hartford Civic Center, with the Whalers hosting Dale Hunter and the Washington Capitals.

More than 30 years later — and 25 since the team’s relocation to North Carolina — most NHL players either weren’t alive or too young to really remember seeing “The Whale” on the ice.

But they’re not completely forgotten.

“My father-in-law was pretty pumped because he was a Whalers guy back in the day, so it’s pretty cool,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, one of the guys working in the new gear, said following practice.

Gostisbehere’s wife is from Milford, Connecticut, a suburb of New Haven on the coast of Long Island Sound and about 45 minutes south of Hartford. The couple just built a summer home in Westport not far from there.

I grew up in West Haven before moving to Western Massachusetts — about 30 minutes from Hartford — in the middle of fifth grade, so I have plenty of memories of the Whalers from the 1980s and ’90s.

I also remember the jai alai buildings in Connecticut, and it’s been widely reported that Gostisbehere’s father, Regis, moved from France to the U.S. to pursue a career in jai alai.

Small world.

2. I asked a couple other new guys about the Whalers gear, and the consensus was positive. Brent Burns said he had faint memories of the Whalers — at 38 years old, he would have been 12 when the team moved — but had nothing but positive things to say about the look.

Calvin de Haan, a couple months shy of 32, would’ve been too young to really remember hockey in Hartford, but he agreed that it was fun to bring back the Whalers kit for a game.

I suggested the Jets should switch back to their logo from before the move from Winnipeg to Arizona, but he said he likes the new Jets logo.

One look we agreed should never return: The Canucks “V” look from the late ’70s through the mid-’80s.

3. Speaking of Whalers Night, the Hurricanes will host the Bruins in the last regular season meeting between the league’s top two teams.

The Hurricanes are one of two teams, along with the Senators, with a winning record against Boston this season: Carolina lost 3-2 in overtime at home on Nov. 25 then beat the Bruins 4-1 in Boston on Jan. 29.

Which got me thinking: Since the March 3 trade deadline, how have the Eastern Conference’s playoff contenders, listed in order of their points percentage before Friday’s games, fared?

Bruins — 3-3-0, .500 points percentage
Hurricanes — 5-2-0, .714
Devils — 4-2-2, .625
Maple Leafs — 2-2-1, .500
Rangers — 4-1-1, .750
Lightning — 4-3-1, .563
Penguins — 3-3-1, .500
Islanders — 4-2-0, .667
Panthers — 4-0-1, .900
Sabres — 2-3-2, .429
Capitals — 3-2-1, .583
Senators — 2-5-0, .286
Red Wings — 2-4-0, .333

The Hurricanes, despite suffering back-to-back shutout losses in the last week, are among the top performers in the Eastern Conference since the deadline. The Senators and Red Wings have seemingly played themselves out of playoff contention, and the Sabres are well on their way to doing so.

No team has been hotter than the Panthers, which could make for a tough first-round matchup for the winner of the Atlantic or Metropolitan divisions if Florida were to claim one of the two wild card spots.

The Rangers are the other team with a better post-deadline record than the Hurricanes, though three of their four wins came after regulation. New York has, however, won back-to-back games against the Caps and Pens — two teams in the mix for a playoff spot.

4. While we’re comparing post-deadline records, why not take a quick look at the deadline additions of those 13 teams, with the caveat that points (and certainly plus/minus) aren’t everything.


Dmitry Orlov: 10 GP — 3-9-12, plus-10, 20:44 TOI
Garnet Hathaway: 10 GP — 1-2-3, plus-1, 10:25 TOI
Tyler Bertuzzi: 6 GP — 0-3-0, plus-1, 16:34 TOI


Jesse Puljujarvi: 3 GP — 0-0-0, minus-2, 14:01 TOI
Shayne Gostibehere: 7 GP — 2-2-4, minus-4, 17:07 TOI


Timo Meier: 7 GP — 3-1-4, minus-2, 18:17 TOI
Curtis Lazar: 2 GP — 0-0-0, even, 8:56 TOI

Maple Leafs

Ryan O’Reilly: 8 GP — 3-2-5, plus-1, 15:46 TOI
Noel Acciari: 12 GP — 3-0-3, plus-2, 13:27 TOI
Jake McCabe: 7 GP— 0-0-0, minus-1, 18:29 TOI
Sam Lafferty: 7 GP — 0-1-1, minus-2, 12:36 TOI
Luke Schenn: 2 GP — 0-0-0, even, 11:26 TOI


Vladimir Tarasenko: 17 GP — 4-7-11, plus-2, 16:02 TOI
Niko Mikkola: 17 GP — 0-2-2, minus-1, 18:32 TOI
Tyler Motte: 10 GP — 1-2-3, even, 9:52 TOI
Patrick Kane: 7 GP — 3-2-5, minus-2, 18:43 TOI


Tanner Jeannot: 10 GP — 0-3-3, minus-2, 12:56 TOI


Mikael Granlund: 7 GP — 1-1-2, plus-2, 16:29 TOI
Nick Bonino: 3 GP — 0-0-0, even, 9:50 TOI
Dmitry Kulikov: 4 GP — 0-1-1, even, 12:40 TOI


Bo Horvat: 18 GP — 5-4-9, minus-3, 21:32 TOI
Pierre Engvall: 6 GP — 3-1-4, plus-2, 13:51 TOI




Riley Stillman: 6 GP — 0-2-2, plus-2, 12:55 TOI
Jordan Greenway: 6 GP — 1-0-1, minus-3, 14:27 TOI


Rasmus Sandin: 6 GP — 1-8-9, plus-1, 25:34 TOI


Jakob Chychrun: 8 GP — 2-2-4, minus-2, 21:35 TOI
Patrick Brown: 4 GP — 1-1-2, minus-1, 9:46 TOI

Red Wings


No team made more moves than the Leafs, and I asked Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour about Friday’s opponent and the sweeping changes Toronto made ahead of the deadline.

“I think the whole key to it is keep your main guys that you gotta have together,” he said. “Every organization is different, but they see a need and they go get it. And they felt they, obviously, had some holes they wanted to fill, and I give him credit for doing it.

“If it works, everyone’s gonna think is great. But, I mean, they had a good team anyway.”

5. The Hurricanes’ schedule the next 11 days is pretty rough. It starts Friday with the game in Toronto, the first of three straight on the road. A game Saturday in Philadelphia follows, and the road trip ends at MSG against the Rangers on Tuesday, the first game of a home-and-home with New York that continues Thursday at PNC Arena.

That is the start of a four-game homestead against some of the Eastern Conference’s best. After hosting the Rangers on Thursday, Carolina welcomes the Maple Leafs next Saturday, followed by Whalers Night the next day against the Bruins. The Hurricanes finish with Tampa Bay next Tuesday.

Carolina closes the season with six of its final nine on the road, but none of those travel games are against current playoff teams: Detroit, Montreal, Nashville, Buffalo, Ottawa and Florida. In fact, just one game — home on April 2 against the Islanders — in the last nine is against a team currently in a playoff spot.