Gm4 @Edm: Jaccob Slavin and opportunistic scoring convert mixed bag overall into 5-3 Canes win

Gm4 @Edm: Jaccob Slavin and opportunistic scoring convert mixed bag overall into 5-3 Canes win

At the productivity level, Tuesday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was a huge success with a big two points on the road against a good hockey team. At the headline level, Tuesday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was also a success in that the Hurricanes scored in bunches with five tallies on the night. And especially with the Hurricanes early in the season, riding a two-game losing streak and trying not to dig a their usual hole on the North Carolina State Fair road trip, the results trump all else that follows. But Tuesday’s win was anything but textbook and a repeatable formula. When I condense down the Hurricanes win, two things jump out. The Hurricanes benefited from a tough night for the Oilers in terms of breakdowns and also a backup goalie but do deserve credit for opportunistically finishing at a crazy high rate. But between the intermittent grade A scoring chances gifted to them by the Oilers, the Hurricanes really did not play well at all. Puck possession, shots and most statistics other than the all-important goals leaned heavily toward the Oilers. The Hurricanes lost 61 percent their face-offs and were outshot 51 to 21. But I think there is a huge silver lining even in painting a bit of a tarnished image of the 5-3 win. That silver lining is the fact that the Carolina Hurricanes have twice now won games on far less than perfect nights via finding a way and opportunistic scoring. That story beats the good (or often not so good) old days when the Hurricanes dominated possession statistics but just...
Gm3 @Wpg: Failure to ignite offensively dooms Canes in 2-1 loss versus Jets

Gm3 @Wpg: Failure to ignite offensively dooms Canes in 2-1 loss versus Jets

On Saturday night in Winnipeg, the Carolina Hurricanes faced their first road test and came up short in a 2-1 loss to the Jets. If I had to summarize the game in one Twitter-size comment, I stand by my Tweet immediately after the game ended. Most troubling in #Canes loss is inability to generate anything offensively even when desperation level dialed up in 3rd period. — Canes and Coffee (@CanesandCoffee) October 15, 2017 The game was somewhat similar to Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Columbus. Jeff Skinner managed to notch a goal, but in total the Hurricanes offense was mostly ineffective and generated minimal even decent scoring chances despite holding their own territorially.   Notes from the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets From my ‘What I’m watching’ preview first… 1) The blue line As I suggested might happen a few days back, Peters shifted to balanced defense pairings over the top-heavy ones preferred at home. The top 4 was not perfect, but in total I think they had a solid night. Noah Hanifin had his best regular season game of the young season, and despite a few mistakes, the rest of the top 4 also held up its end of the bargain. Pesce and Slavin probably had a couple significant ‘oopses’ turning the puck over in bad places; luckily the team survived those. But Pesce especially also had some strong plays defending one on one.  Despite the miscues, I would take the outing from the top four defensemen. The third pairing struggled. Putting it bluntly, I just do not think Klas Dahlbeck is a serviceable third...
Gm2 Vs. Clu: Late Skinner tally steals OTL point against Columbus

Gm2 Vs. Clu: Late Skinner tally steals OTL point against Columbus

After an entertaining and exciting home opener on Saturday night, Tuesday’s Carolina Hurricanes game against the Columbus Blue Jackets was one of those games that can make NHL hockey a tough sell to casual fans. The game was actually a decent one with both teams playing reasonably sounds hockey and both goalies making up for whenever they did not. The result was a 2-1 overtime loss for the Hurricanes that featured some suspense but a whole bunch of raw entertainment value. Worth noting on a less successful night is that sometimes the other teams are good too. Columbus’ bread and butter is leaning on its blue line and Sergei Bobrovsky to be stalwart defensively, and they are a good hockey team that was successful with that formula against all varieties of teams in 2016-17. So having them tamp down the Hurricanes’ offense is not a shocking event. On top of that, three points out of four in two home games is roughly the pace needed to make the playoffs, so through two games the Hurricanes are on track.   Here are my collection of notes from the game:   1) Jeff Skinner Albeit only two games into the season, Jeff Skinner had had a quiet start before scoring what will hopefully be his first of many huge goals this season. After a handful of good scoring chances went by the wayside late in the third period, the game felt out of reach despite being a one-goal game. Then Skinner capitalized on a miscue to earn his team a point in the standings and a chance for another. Skinner gloved...
Gm1 Vs. Min: Canes season opener losing streak Staaled in Wild 5-4 shootout win

Gm1 Vs. Min: Canes season opener losing streak Staaled in Wild 5-4 shootout win

Sorry for the extended yammering. After MONTHS with no hockey, I have a lot to say. 🙂 Feel free to stop reading at the point when you’ve had enough.   Leaving behind what I have called a ‘fan generation’ (maybe I’ll write what I mean by that on a slow day in the future) of losing behind requires change. At a simple level, the change is math like winning more games, collecting more points in the standings and finishing somewhere in the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference to make a return to the playoffs. But in sports where culture is important and expectations and habits can create repeating results regardless of changes in personnel or talent level, the biggest change that shifts a losing team to the winning column is a change in attitude and expectations. In terms of the simple math, Saturday’s season-opening win netted two points which is at least one more point than any other season since 2012-13. But more significantly, Saturday has the potential to become a small building block for making the bigger change in attitude and expectations. For the first time in a long while, the Hurricanes will not exit their first game and enter the practice that follows saying ‘it’s only one game; let’s win the next one’ or similar cliches uttered by losing teams early in the season that very often continue down the same path and become losing teams at the end of the season. I will leave the detailed recap to the many other outlets that post AP style recaps with who scored when and also a...
Preseason Gm7 Vs. Was: Canes close out preseason slate with 3-1 win over Caps

Preseason Gm7 Vs. Was: Canes close out preseason slate with 3-1 win over Caps

Friday night in Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes finished up their preseason schedule with a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. The game featured a healthy mix of sure NHLers working to round into form, young players trying to make a statement before final cuts and Coach Bill Peters doing some line tinkering.   Here are my notes from the game that largely line up with my ‘What I’m watching’ preview:   1) Players trying to make a statement Janne Kuokkanen I think he had a positive game in terms of thinking the game at NHL speed and making a high number of good decisions especially offensively. He had a few pucks just miss him from between the circles and was active offensively. The negative to Kuokkanen’s game was that he seemed to have a tough time hands-wise handling (mostly receiving) the puck. A few of the near misses might have been from the passes being a bit off or in his skates, but he also had at least three instances where he just failed to receive/handle a puck on his stick. I will take being in the right place and processing the game at NHL speed over the physical part any day, so despite maybe what could have been a bigger night for Kuokkanen, I will call it half full.   Martin Necas He continues to look at least capable of playing at the NHL level. Noteworthy is that his best sequence in my opinion again happened with him playing in the role of playmaking forward. He had the puck in the neutral zone, quickly sorted things out and...
Preseason Gm6 @Edm: Oilers get revenge in 4-0 win

Preseason Gm6 @Edm: Oilers get revenge in 4-0 win

On Wednesday night in Western Canada, the Carolina Hurricanes preseason schedule rolled forward into and through game six of a seven-game schedule. After a resounding 6-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday, the Oilers gained revenge with a 4-0 win on Wednesday night in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Oilers lineup was heavier in NHL-level players, and the Hurricanes offered a blue line primarily of non-NHLers and a lineup that was minus Jordan Staal’s line to try to slow Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Based on the lineups, I am not reading too much into the loss and am instead using it primarily as an evaluation point for individual players including a number of younger players who drew into the lineup.   Follow up on ‘What I’m watching’ preview 1) Martin Necas at right wing Probably the biggest news heading into the game was that Martin Necas would see ice time on an NHL line at right wing next to Jeff Skinner and Derek Ryan. Right now with Lee Stempniak sidelined by injury, that is the one slot that is potentially open for the start of the regular season. Necas did not so much look bad at right wing as he looked ‘meh.’ Cutting to the chase, based on a tiny one-game sample, I do not view him as a great option to fill a right wing slot. The greatest strengths of his game through five preseason contests was his play with the puck on his stick in the middle of the ice, especially on the rush. Playing on the wing and often on the walls replaced the part of...