RALEIGH, NC --- The Carolina Hurricanes are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. That isn't an aberration, they are a darn good club.
After starting the season 0-2, the Canes are 8-2-1 and are 5-1-1 in their last seven games. The first six games of that stretch came on the road, a grueling 12-day trip that ended up serving the team well.
Not only did they pick up nine points traveling to New York, Toronto, Ottawa and Philadelphia, but the many new players grew more comfortable off the ice with the holdovers, and even more important, the chemistry on the ice grew exponentially.
Thursday night's 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs was simply an extension of the trip, though the Canes were more than happy to be back in the friendly confines of PNC Arena.
"It was really good," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "We missed that part of the bonding of the training camp and spending time together at the rink. The players came in and we started right away.
"At the beginn...