Updated Jan. 10
When they began their schedule in Finland back in October, there was a perception that the All-Star Game the Hurricanes will host later this month would be the highlight of the season in Carolina.
|Goalie Cam Ward is one of the dwindling connections to Carolina's Cup champions. (AP)|
Well, Carolina isn't quite there yet, but the Hurricanes finished the first half of their schedule on a 5-0-2 run that has them quietly knocking on the door. And that's a hopeful sign for a team that has been one of the league's best second-half clubs in each of the past two seasons after nearly disastrous first halves of both.
Staal has led the way by averaging a point per game, while Ward, who has been sidelined with a minor lower body injury for the past couple of games, is among the top winners. Still the real story in Carolina has been how well some of the youngsters have performed, most notably 18-year-old Jeff Skinner, the league's youngest player and the leading scorer among rookies.
Meanwhile Carolina has eight other players with double-digit point totals, and more important, games in hand on all but one team ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.
"I like where we're at," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said.
He should. The rankings through Sunday night's games: