Eric Staal is the captain. Cam Ward is the backbone. They're still No. 1 and 1A in the Carolina Hurricanes' pecking order. With every game he plays, Jeff Skinner is closing in on them.

He's not there yet, but he continues to demonstrate his truly electrifying ability to make things happen with the puck on his stick, the kind of individual brilliance not often seen in these parts. It was Jussi Jokinen's vision that created the game-winning goal against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, but Skinner's hands that finished it.

Coming into the year, there were naturally worries of a second-year decline from the Calder Trophy winner. He's not catching anyone by surprise this season, and a scoreless preseason - more fights (one) than points (none) in five games - didn't exactly calm those fears. He looked better on camera during the NHL's New York media tour than he did on the ice in training camp.