A major reason for their turn of fortunes has obviously been their play after the trade deadline. While some fans screamed about how the team was giving up on the season, the players turned it the other way. They are 8-2-3 in the 13 games since January 9th, when they masterminded that blockbuster deal with the Swift Current Broncos.
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After pouring through the statistics of those 13 games, a few interesting questions came to mind.
#1. Will the Canes keep spreading the wealth?
Don't get me wrong, the team has had some standout performances. Brad Morrison has 21 points since the deadline and Jordy Bellerive has 20, including a couple of hat tricks. But it seems like everyone's been picking up the slack lately and not just on the scoresheet. Logan Barlage and Jadon Joseph have picked up the majority of the faceoffs from the departed Giorgio Estephan, while both Logan Flodell and Reece Klassen have been lights out in net, including five nights of 30+ save performances and one night each of facing 40+ shots.
#2. Will the real powerplay please stand up?
Here's an interesting factoid: prior to this weekend's wins against Swift Current and Edmonton, the powerplay was an abysmal 0-for-27 in its previous nine games. Somehow, the team did keep winning for most of that stretch, and actually still has the third-best unit in the entire WHL. Jordy Bellerive finally snapped the drought late in the first period of Friday's win over the Broncos, where they went 3-for-5 with the man advantage, following that up with a 2-for-6 performance against Edmonton on Saturday. The team will continue to do well if the powerplay keeps that up, and keeps the penalty kill in fine form. Since the trade deadline, the kill operated at an 83% efficiency, up from its season average of 77%. If you can win the special teams battles, you're likely going to win more games.
#3. Is it really in everyone's best interests for the Hurricanes to gun for Central Division crown?#WHLCanes earned a 5-2 win Friday over the Swift Current Broncos at the ENMAX Centre. Five different goal scorers lit the lamp while @loganflodell made 40 saves in the win in front of 4,893 fans! #CaneTrain #YQL— LethbridgeHurricanes (@WHLHurricanes) February 3, 2018
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I know this sounds like a weird question. Who wouldn't want to raise a banner? The question becomes: how many playoff rounds do you want to see? If you look at the standings, a first place finish in the Central would mean playing the top wildcard team in the conference. Who would that be right now? The Regina Pats, who would actually be the top team in the Central if it wasn't for them being log-jammed in the absolutely insane East Division. The Pats are four points back of Brandon and six ahead of Prince Albert and Saskatoon. So you're bound to get one of those teams. OR you could finish second in your division and play either Kootenay or Red Deer. I'm not saying either would be a cakewalk, and I'm not saying the Hurricanes couldn't beat any of the teams coming out of the East, as witnessed by beating the powerhouse Broncos on Saturday. And the Pats might be ripe for the picking, as they're the Memorial Cup hosts with a ton of pressure on them and playing them might be good in the sense of not having anything to lose. It's an interesting internal struggle the top team in the Central will have, so I guarantee everyone will be scoreboard watching over the last 20 games of the regular season.