Penguins Prepare For The 'Bunch Of Jerks'

Raleigh News & Observer's Chip Alexander with an in-depth look at the Hurricanes

The Fan Morning Show
March 19, 2019 - 11:28 am
Hurricanes celebrate with duck, duck, goose

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- If you didn't already know, the Carolina Hurricanes have done some special things after home wins this season. In a non-traditional hockey market, the Canes have decided to mix things up and have a little fun by celebrating on the ice after a home win for their crowd. 

Postgame shows have included team celebrations like human bowling, duck duck goose, the limbo and a full-on baseball game. 

About a month ago, Hockey Night in Canada's Don Cherry expressed his disdain for the celebrations, calling Carolina "a bunch of jerks." 

Of course, the team and the fanbase has embraced the moniker and lit up the ice with the "bunch of jerks" motto during the next home game.

"They (the Hurricanes players) enjoy the celebrations so much they don't really care. I think they all kind of laughed it off a little bit," said Raleigh News & Observer Hurricanes writer Chip Alexander on The Fan Morning Show Tuesday. "Really if you think about it, it was an unfortunate choice of words by Don Cherry. I think he was trying to make a point that he just doesn't like it and it's certainly the old school thing and it doesn't fit his image of the league."

"But he happened to use those words and certainly they grabbed hold of it down here (in Raleigh). I don't think the players took it personally at all."    

More importantly for the Penguins, the Hurricanes are only 3 points back in the Metropolitan Division standings and they travel to Raleigh tonight for a game with playoff implications. 

He says the fans are getting excited about this team, realizing they can get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Alexander said you can't overstate how much Justin Williams' leadership has kept this team on track.

Tonight is extra special for Carolina as well as Pittsburgh.

"There's something about having Crosby here and certainly I know the Penguins will miss Malkin, that was an unfortunate situation there. Jordan Staal has really enjoyed his matchups against Evgeni Malkin but apparently now that Malkin's out he will be matched up against his old buddy Sidney Crosby. That'll be a key matchup tonight."

"You know, these are the pressure games now, this is going to be interesting to see how the Hurricanes handle this the next couple weeks, these last 11 games. This is the first real pressure game I think. These are the games that count the most. You look at the Penguins, three points ahead in the standings and you can move within a point with a win tonight. Tampa Bay is coming in on Thursday. It's not going to be an easy ride for the Hurricanes despite everybody talking about the playoffs." 

Alexander points out some of the things to look out for tonight as well as why they've had so much success this year. 

"[Head coach] Rod Brind'Amour will roll all four lines. I think he has a lot of confidence [in them]. A guy like Greg McKegg who came in midseason because of the injury to Staal has played very well for them. The [Sebastian] Aho line, with [Nino] Niederreiter and Justin Williams, they lean a lot on them but at the same time they've moved up Andrei Svechnikov, their first round draft pick to the second line. He's made that line a little bit more formidable, too. A lot of that has to do with Michael Ferland having some injury issues, but at the same time Svechnikov, who's matured during the year, has really grabbed hold of that opportunity and made the most of it."

Alexander also pointed out the great play they've gotten from their two goaltenders Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney throughout the year as a huge key to their success.       

You can listen to the entire interview with Hurricanes beat writer from the News & Observer Chip Alexander on The Fan Morning Show below.    

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