The Noise: Drouin stepping up, Matthews flourishing in growing role
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

theScore's new series, "The Noise," is published every Monday. It kicks off each week with a quick look at three teams or players making headlines, good or bad.

Jonathan Drouin

Marred in a streak of misfortune, the Tampa Bay Lightning have desperately needed somebody to step up, and Drouin has been their guy.

Injuries to Steven Stamkos, Ben Bishop, and Nikita Kucherov have placed the club's Stanley Cup aspirations on hold and shifted the focus to obtaining a playoff spot.

While the club has struggled since its captain went down, Drouin has looked like the spirited competitor that emerged last postseason.

Over his last five games, Drouin has recorded four goals and three assists, bringing his point total to 20 in 27 contests. He'll need to continue producing in order for the Lightning to remain in the Atlantic Division mix.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Metropolitan Division is a gauntlet, and the Hurricanes, after a slow start, are caught on the wrong end of it.

With the Blue Jackets riding a 12-game win streak, the Flyers recently ending a 10-gamer of their own, along with the Penguins and Capitals being, well, the Penguins and Capitals, the Hurricanes have been lost in the shuffle despite coming on strong of late.

Carolina won three in a row entering the holiday break, and has earned at least a point in seven of its last eight. With the Metro occupying both Eastern Conference wild-card slots, the Hurricanes sit seven points out. However, in the weaker Atlantic Division, they would have found themselves just three points behind third-place Boston, with three games in hand.

The Hurricanes stumbled to a 2-4-2 October record, but have flown heavily under the radar since. Head coach Bill Peters deploys a vastly talented, youthful d-corps that is the strength of the club, as evidenced by it's league-best penalty kill (90.8 percent) and fourth-fewest shots against per game (27.5).

Auston Matthews

Matthews is coming into his own.

After a 13-game stretch without a goal, the Toronto Maple Leafs' No. 1 pick is on the most consistent run of his young career, notching 10 tallies in 14 games since the drought.

The 19-year-old has points in six of his last eight games, and is tied for the club lead with 26. More importantly, he's seen an increased role in Mike Babcock's system and his ice time continues to trend upward.

Babcock isn't sheltering his young pivot anymore, either. Over the past week-and-a-half, Matthews has gone head to head with Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Getzlaf, and has managed to drive play.

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The Noise: Drouin stepping up, Matthews flourishing in growing role
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