Preseason #2 Vs. Tam: ‘What I’m watching’ — Canes seek continuation with NHL group in game 2 rematch

Preseason #2 Vs. Tam: ‘What I’m watching’ — Canes seek continuation with NHL group in game 2 rematch

Tuesday featured a road match of a young Canes group that was light on pure NHL talent playing the core of a Stanley Cup contender. But proving that the game is won on the ice, the Hurricanes group, led by the forwards, pushed pace and played an aggressive, skating brand of hockey that tilted the ice into the Tampa Bay end and resulted in a 4-1 Hurricanes win. If you missed it late last night, you can find my recap for that game HERE.  Preseason action continues tonight with a rematch in Raleigh. As one would expect, Wednesday will feature more of an NHL lineup for the Hurricanes and less of an NHL lineup for the Lightning.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning 1) Continuation of pace and pressure For me, the story of the game Tuesday was the strong forward play that dictated play, tilted the ice into the offensive zone and minimized pressure on the defense and goalies to stop the Lightning scoring stars. I closed with this for my game recap yesterday: 7) The burning question The forward play was impressive. They generally played a simple and aggressive game pursuing the puck in all three zones. At least theoretically, the pace and aggressiveness (and hopefully the success in Tuesday’s game) could potentially be the first part of what we call “Brind’Amour hockey”. But to be honest, I think the Caniac Nation, myself included, is so desperate for signs of a positive trajectory that 60 minutes of hockey in game 1 of the preseason could be taken for more than...
Canes catch up notes: Brett Pesce, Peter Mrazek, Greg McKegg and Jordan Martinook

Canes catch up notes: Brett Pesce, Peter Mrazek, Greg McKegg and Jordan Martinook

In case you missed it, a recap with player notes of the Hurricanes 4-1 win over the Lightning is HERE.   Today’s Daily Cup of Joe offers a quick burst of Canes notes that have not made it into another article yet or are covered in more detail here.   Brett Pesce As far as anything official, Brett Pesce who missed the tail end of the 2017-18 season with a shoulder injury, his usage thus far in training camp has looked odd to me. For the first practice sessions, Slavin, Hamilton, de Haan and Faulk were in one group and Pesce was in the other spending time with Jake Bean. Brind’Amour said very clearly not to read much into combinations in early practices, but the paranoid part of me figures Pesce for a top 4 defenseman and would logically expect him to be practicing with that group. If he plays regular minutes in Wednesday’s preseason game that would sort of put a stake in the sand that says the injury is behind him and that he is tracking to be ready by early October. WEDNESDAY NOTE ADDED: Pesce is in the lineup for Wednesday’s game, so I guess we can close this one. The watch shifts to getting an early read on how Brind’Amour plans to build his blue line with arguably five top 4 defensemen and only 4 slots plus the need to bump someone (likely Fleury) out of the bottom pairing.  UPDATE TO UPDATE: Pesce seems to be on the lineup card but not in the lineup? I guess we will see at game time, but perhaps...
Preseason Gm1 @Tam: Canes kids and grinders roll to 4-1 win over Tampa Bay All-Stars

Preseason Gm1 @Tam: Canes kids and grinders roll to 4-1 win over Tampa Bay All-Stars

Brief recap of Hurricanes 4-1 win over the Lightning As is often the case for road games early in preseason, the home team has a number of the top players dressed to play in front of the home crowd and skip some of the preseason travel, and just the opposite the road team travels without many of its top players and instead with a young group. That was exactly the case on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay with the Lightning icing what would figure to be the superior team on paper. But the paper meant nothing. The Hurricanes dictated play and were the aggressor pretty much from the outset. The young forward group to a man, attacked the puck and took away space especially on the forecheck and in the neutral. The result was a strong start in terms of puck possession and minimal pressure 5v5 on the defense and the goalie. Combined with a shaky first period from Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 2-0 lead. First, tryout defenseman Michal Cajkovsky made the most of his chance to suit up in a NHL uniform when he scored through a Morgan Geekie screen to put the Canes up 1-0. Cajkovsky. He looked you the next coming of Brent Burns for most of the first period playing much of the period creeping down to the top of the face-off circle to support the puck and then firing at will when it arrived. He had a least five first period shots, mostly of a good quality. Then Lucas Wallmark beat Vasilevskiy cleanly on a soft goal to...

Preseason #1 @Tam: ‘What I’m watching’ — Let the games begin!

After another long offseason, the Carolina Hurricanes are back on the ice in game action in the first of six preseason games to prepare for the 2018-19 NHL season. The game group travels to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. As is usually the case in early preseason road games, the Hurricanes lineup is slightly on the light side in terms of players expected to make the NHL roster and as is often the case, will play a Lightning team that is fairly stacked with its superstars. Both today’s game and Wednesday’s will feature ‘that one chance to impress’ for a number of players on the underside of the cut line before the roster starts to shrink and the team focuses more on NHL lineup preparation.   ‘What I’m watching’ for the Carolina Hurricanes versus the Tampa Bay Lightning 1) Young D under pressure As noted above, many of Tampa Bay’s big guns will be in the lineup and will be facing a young Hurricanes group on defense that includes only Haydn Fleury and Trevor van Riemsdyk for the 2017-18 NHL regulars. The game represents a big challenge and measuring stick for the group of aspiring young defensemen that includes Roland McKeown, Jake Bean, Josh Wesley, Daniel Renouf and Michal Cajkovsky. On Tuesday, I will be watching to see how the young group holds up against high-end NHL competition as a way of measuring proximity to NHL-readiness for these players.   2) Lucas Wallmark As detailed in my Daily Cup of Joe article on Monday on Victor Rask’s injury, I see Lucas Wallmark as the front runner to...
6 Carolina Hurricanes to watch in early preseason action

6 Carolina Hurricanes to watch in early preseason action

Below is a quick hitter list of 10 Carolina Hurricanes players to watch in early preseason action with an eye for finding dark horse candidates for roster spots.   Lucas Wallmark With Victor Rask’s injury, I would probably not call Wallmark a dark horse anymore, but he was definitely a player on the outside looking in just before training camp started. He had a phenomenal year at the AHL level in 2017-18. At the NHL level, he looked competent but not really impressive. I will be curious to see if Brind’Amour flanks him with NHL wings in preseason action to gauge his ability to step in at the NHL level.   Janne Kuokkanen Kuokkanen is another player who could step into Rask’s slot as a center, but I think Kuokkanen could also be a dark horse to win a roster spot at wing. His heady two-way play with a bit of offense actually projects to fit on Jordan Staal’s line, but as with all of the young players, the question is whether they will reach projections/ceilings and when. Seeing if Brind’Amour plays Kuokkanen at wing or center early on would give some idea of where he possibly fits, and seeing if he gets ice time with NHLers would also be a clue for where he currently sits on the depth chart for consideration to start the season at the NHL level.   Michael Fora To be honest, I am still unable to gauge how close Fora is to NHL-ready. He looked capable against younger competition in prospect camp and in Traverse City. But that level of play is well...